Sean Patrick “Skip” Flanagan isn’t your typical college baseball player. Although the second year Psychology major dons a cap and has the build required, there is one thing about him that stands out — he’s deaf.
With an interpreter accompanying him and a baseball bag sitting next to him, he comes prepared for an interview. In it, he talks of many things — including how he grew up playing baseball as a young kid, and started getting serious around middle school.
The kid that played in middle school, however, grew along with his talent, and considered going to Gallaudet University, a college for the deaf located in Washington, D.C. as he was recruited by former major league baseball player and current coach Curtis Pride. However, he turned down this offer to attend RIT.
This past summer, Flanagan played in a southeastern Massachusetts/Rhode Island league called the Cranberry League. According to the RIT Athletics web site, Flanagan was chosen to participate in the 19th annual “Oldtime Game” in Cambridge, Mass. in August. Flanagan says he was the first hearing-impaired player chosen to play in the game.
An article in the Cambridge Chronicle and Tab reported that Flanagan recorded three hits and scored one run through four at-bats, and was the game’s Most Valuable Player.
The team Flanagan played for this summer was the Easton Huskies. He said via text message that he came in to the Cranberry League “expecting nothing from the experience, but had to work for everything, and it all turned out nicely.”
While Flanagan was more willing to say that his first year on the RIT baseball team was a learning experience, one positive memory he has on the field is of the time when he struck out 10 batters against Union College.
“That was the best game I’ve had in a long time,” he said.
Asked what could be improved on in baseball for deaf people, Flanagan replied: “Personally, I don’t really know, because everything’s perfect for me here.”
Does Flanagan have any goals for the upcoming season?
“Just to play better than last year,” said Skip.
And how much of an impact does Deaf culture have on baseball?
“It’s big because everyone who is playing baseball are showing signs of Deaf culture. Everything we do is very visual. We use body language gestures, facial expressions, and so forth in the game of baseball itself.”