Baseball player with autism becomes the first to join a major league club

(WSVN) - He may be in the minors, but one pro baseball player is making history: he’s considered to be the first individual with autism signed to a major league club.

Tarik El-Abour, a 25-year-old outfielder, spent the last two seasons with the Empire Pro Baseball league in New York.

According to Yahoo! Sports, he has now joined the Kansas City Royals minor league system.

“He knew he had to practice. He knew he loved it,” his mother Nadia Khalil said. “He told me that when he grew up and played baseball, he would buy me a house wherever he plays, so that I could watch his games live. He did not know yet how different he was. He did not know yet how autism was going to speak for him before he could speak for himself.”

It isn’t his first experience with the Royals. The team invited El-Abour to throw out the first pitch at a 2017 game for the their Autism Awareness Night.

El-Abour was named the Empire League’s Rookie of the Year in 2016 and won the championship with the Plattsburgh Red Birds in 2017.

“He has been a champion every year he has stepped foot on an Empire League field. His mindset is set on one goal and that’s Major League Baseball. We believed in Tarik like many doubters did not,” said Empire League VP Jerry Gonzalez in a press release. “I am so beyond excited and happy for this kid I can’t explain it. This is a great day for Tarik’s career and we are beyond happy that we were able to help him along his path.”

He is expected to play the entire 2018 season in the minors.

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