A different kind of Sign

    Mark Gillman / Roundup

    Two innings pitched, no runs, one hit, one walk, and two double plays.

    Every relief pitcher who takes the mound views this as a successful outing, including Pierce College hurler William Chapman.

    This was Chapman’s outing against Long Beach City College Thusday afternoon. He did what he does best: Enter a game during the middle to late innings and get batters out.

    What you might not know is that the Brahma right hander’s feel for the game of baseball could very well be unmatched. It has to be, William Chapman is deaf.

    Chapman’s condition doesn’t affect his pitching at all. He won’t let it. He toes the slab with the intention of retiring every batter he faces. The same mentality that the Mariano Rivera’s of the world take to the mound with them every day. 

    “All I want to do is help my team win games,” Chapman stated through his interpreter.

    His teammates and coaches have all made it easy for Chapman to fit in.

    “Will’s been a real welcomed addition to the team,” head coach John Bushart said. “He’s pitching much better and his teammates have really rallied around him.”

    Chapman agreed with his coach.

    “This is a very close group of guys, everybody gets along,” Chapman said.

    Communication hasn’t been much of an issue either for the former Calabasas High School standout, as Will has taught a lot of his teammates to sign.

    “I taught a bunch of the guys a little sign language,” Chapman said. “Mostly things like good job, or nice play. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Keeping things simple goes a long way.”

    “It’s a universal game,” Bushart said in agreement. “Communication hasn’t really been a problem for the guys. It’s been a positive experience for everybody.”

    This isn’t Will’s first team since graduating high school in 2007. He earned himself a division one scholarship to UC Davis. Chapman red-shirted after the coach that recruited him left the university and decided to brimg his game to Pierce once coach Bushart took over the Brahma baseball program.

    “I’ve known coach Bushart for a long time,” Chapman said. “I like the way he coaches. He wants us to do things the right way, staying mentally focused and he gives everyone a chance.”

    Growing up in a very competitive baseball community, Chapman didn’t let his condition affect him then.

    “I started playing baseball when I was two years old, throwing the ball around with my dad in the backyard,” Will said. “I played throughout my childhood in Little League and Pony baseball as a teenager.”

    It turns out that baseball isn’t the only sport Chapman excels at. He played guard and forward in high school for the Calabasas high basketball team. Chapman still heads out to the court whenever he gets the chance.

    “I played three of years of basketball for Calabasas and really enjoy playing the game in my spare time,” Will said.

    Another focus of Chapman’s away from the diamond is his education. He is a history major who enjoys learning in the classroom, but says that it is sometimes difficult to communicate with his professors with the different interpreters.

    “It’s harder to communicate in a classroom setting than it is on the baseball field,” Chapman stated. “Different classes have different interpreters with different styles.”

    As for the season at hand, Chapman’s expectations are high for his ball club, who through Friday had won six of their first seven games with their most recent being a 26-1 drubbing of Long Beach.

    Conference play is right around the corner and his Brahmas are looking stronger than ever.

    “We have a very good team,” Chapman said. “Everyone looks out for one another. No selfish players.”

    Overcoming obstacles has been part of everyday life for Chapman. Through it all, he’s kept a positive frame of mind. His enthusiasm on the ball field is infectious as it rubs off on his coaches and teammates daily.


    Head Coach Bushart (32) signs instructions to William Chapman with the help of Chapman’s interperter in preperation of his relief appearance versus Long Beach. Pierce won the game 26-1. (Gerard Walsh / Roundup)