AJAX, Ontario (Reuters) - Tyson Gillies could barely hear any of the exuberant pandemonium that erupted as Canada successfully defended their Pan Am Games baseball title with a 7-6 victory over the United States on Sunday.
“It’s pretty difficult to hear the crack of the bat, you know with the noise in the crowd and wind against my ears,” Gillies, who wears hearing aids, told Reuters at the final that was held in suburban Toronto.
“But to be honest, baseball is a lot of hand signals and a lot of communication and signs so it never really affects me too bad on the field.”
Gillies has 30 percent hearing in one ear and 50 percent in the other. No one knew he was deaf until he was four because he had learned to read lips.
The 26-year-old has said the assumption that he is incapable because of his hearing impairment has proven to be one of the biggest obstacles he has faced in his baseball career.
At the Pan Am Games he proved any doubters wrong.
Gillies entered the gold medal game with a perfect fielding average, tied for second in home runs, third in runs batted in and fourth in both runs scored and slugging percentage.
In the 10th inning of the final, he scored a run that cut the U.S. lead to 6-5, moments before the U.S. pitcher botched a pick off attempt at first base that saw his throw go into the outfield.
The right fielder’s throw then sailed wide of third, allowing Canada to score two runs and clinch the gold.
“This might be one of the best moments in my life,” said Gillies, who is a member of the San Diego Padres’ minor league affiliate in San Antonio.
“Everybody knows I don’t hear too well but man it’s sure loud out here right now.”
Editing by Greg Stutchbury