Silver Spring player is deaf pitcher, MLB prospect
Gallaudet senior leads Thunderbolts staff with 1.27 ERA and three wins
Since his youth baseball days, Brandon Holsworth has always had help on the diamond.
This summer, as the ace of the Silver Spring Spring-Takoma Park Thunderbolts, he’s showing he might not need it.
Holsworth, a deaf pitcher from Gallaudet University, is dominating his competition in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League. The 6-foot-4, towering right-hander has a team-best three wins and 1.27 earned-run average, leading the Silver Spring pitching staff despite playing without college teammate and interpreter Danny O’Donnell for part of the summer.
“They say 87 percent of communication is not verbal, so we find ways around it, but he has such an outgoing and enthusiastic personality that it’s fun to catch him,” catcher Robert Lucido, Jr. said.
Holsworth, a rising senior at Gallaudet, is hoping his performance in the competitive college wood bat league can help him earn a spot in the Major League Baseball draft.
“I’m really doing everything I can to be the best I can during this season because this is the one opportunity before I go into my senior year,” Holsworth said through O’Donnell. “I don’t know if I’ll have another opportunity to face competition like this.”
Holsworth, who was born deaf, grew up playing baseball and basketball. Communication has been his biggest barrier athletically, his father Chris Holsworth said, but with assistance and support from family and teammates the talented right-hander has dealt with the challenges. In little league, his father would be in the dugout to help him communicate with teammates. In high school, he had a state-hired interpreter, as was required by law in Michigan. In college, he found a fit at Gallaudet, where his teammates and coach — former Major League Baseball player Curtis Pride — are fluent in American Sign Language.
Holsworth learned about the Thunderbolts through O’Donnell, a fully hearing teammate at Gallaudet last season, whose parents are deaf. O’Donnell, a pitcher, has acted as an interpreter for Holsworth during his meetings at the mound.