/Quebec Capitales fielder Tyson Gillies puts in the work to overcome hearing loss

Quebec Capitales fielder Tyson Gillies puts in the work to overcome hearing loss

They say to be a good athlete you have to work hard and play hard, and Tyson Gillies will tell you no one works harder than he does.

Gillies, one of a number of new names on the Quebec Capitales roster this season, is legally deaf.

He said throughout his baseball career, he has had to outwork his competition.

“That was the way for me to kind of make scouts and colleges overlook my disability, and not think too much about it and say, ‘Hey, that’s Tyson, the legally deaf baseball player,’ not, ‘Hey there’s Tyson — he is working hard again today.'”

The 30-year-old Vancouver native wears hearing aids. He says playing baseball with his condition wasn’t always easy, but he makes up for it on the field by making sure he is prepared, knowing who’s on base and what he has to do with the ball if it’s hit to him.

As a child, Gillies was so good at reading lips that people only started to realize he was having issues hearing when he was four and a half.

That skill gives him an advantage — he can sometimes figure out what advice coaches are giving the team or pitcher during mound visits.

He was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 25th round of the 2006 Major League Baseball draft, and since then he has played for more than 20 teams in the minor leagues and independent ball. He has also played for the Canadian national team.

The centrefielder from Vancouver says the clubhouse camaraderie is already pretty strong among his teammates. (Carl Boivin/Radio-Canada)

Though it’s his first season in Quebec City, it’s not his first time playing there — two years ago, Gillies played against the Capitales there when he was with the Ottawa Champions.

The game was … memorable.

“I got booed by the home crowd, so being able to, me personally, hear that, I was like, ‘That’s what I want to be part of — I want to be a part of a crowd with that kind of energy,'” said the centre fielder.

“This town is very engaged in baseball, and it makes it very exciting to come out here every day.”

He said he is already having a lot of fun on the team and is hoping the camaraderie in clubhouse persists.

“That’s one thing I can tell the young kids: be a good teammate, because you know, the baseball gods are watching, and karma’s a big thing in this game. So just be together, and you’ll see what happens.”

Slashing concession prices

The Capitales started their season Friday with the first of a four-game set in Trois-Rivières and will return to Stade Canac for the home opener Tuesday, May 21.

This year, a night at the ballpark will be easier on the wallet — the Capitales have cut the prices of certain food items, water and draft beer by between 17 and 44 per cent.

While concessions at big league parks cost big money, that shouldn’t be the case in his ballpark, said team president Michel Laplante.

“We don’t have guys who are making millions of dollars. This is a place to go have fun. We think our prices should be reasonable.”

Laplante said he has wanted to make the change for years but was only convinced it would work after the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons made the same move in 2017 with what they call their “fan-first pricing.”

The concession stands used to be run by a third party, but this year the team has taken control over that operation, allowing them to lower the prices on pizza, fries, poutine and hot dogs.

Laplante said the hope is that the move will be a good one for the team in the long term.