Well, Mariners minor leaguer Tyson Gillies won’t hear any of it. That is, he can’t hear any of it - because Tyson is partially deaf. However, having such a handicap isn’t going to stand in the way of Tyson making his big-league dreams come true.
The TACOMA NEWS-TRIBUNE has the story on Gilles, a 20-year-old prospect from Vancouver, BC, who was drafted by Seattle in 2006. He’s already twice been named team MVP on the Mariners’ Arizona Instructional League squad. And the word on his scouting report: “Plus-plus speed. Plus-arm. Excellent bat control. Excellent fundamental player.”
All this despite the fact that Gillies only has 30 percent hearing in one ear and 60 percent in the other. As a result, he must take the field of play wearing hearing aids - and deal with an extra obstacle other ballplayers don’t have to:
“I have to dry my ears between innings because the sweat can knock out my hearing aids,” he said. “Guys notice, and they’re curious, but they usually won’t even ask. If I see them watching, I’ll tell them.
“There are times I have to ask people to repeat things, and that can be embarrassing. When you see a coach or manager talking to a group, I’ll always be the closest to whoever is talking.
So how did a Canadian kid decide to continue a career baseball instead of hockey? It was safer for his well-being:
“I grew up on the ice playing hockey. I didn’t get into baseball until I was 10. Hockey was a contact sport, and I got my hearing aids knocked out, then I couldn’t hear guys coming and I really got hit,” Gillies said. “After that, I started playing more baseball.”
But while some people might see Tyson’s hearing problems as a disadvantage, he sees it as an opportunity:
“On the field I depend on knowing every situation – cutoff plays, where baserunners are – because I can’t always hear people yelling. I rely on what I see and what I know about the game. I study it,” he said.
“I think my vision is probably phenomenal,” Gillies said. “I know I see things other people don’t. I think the lack of one sense forced me to use another more, so I see everything going on around me. I have to.”
If he wasn’t playing pro ball, Tyson said he would like to be an inspirational speaker, talking to others about what it was like to be teased at school about his hearing problem, and rising above such obstacles:
“I have to be patient with myself, and that’s difficult for me. I can’t let things get to me. I can’t get frustrated. I don’t look at it like I have a disability. It’s just my life,” he said.
Looks like his speaking career is already off to a good start.