Osborne sees world differently, but baseball the same

Osborne sees world differently, but baseball the same

By Aaron Graff, @Aarongraff_DE

Less than a month ago a bicolored dress caused more than 10 million tweets debating if it was blue and black or white and gold. At least one saw pink and gold.

Saluki senior outfielder Parker Osborne was born with color deficiency, meaning he has a hard time telling similar colors apart. He has the hardest time differentiating between darker colors.

“I have no idea how anyone could see black in that,” Osborne said. “The more I look at it, I’m more convinced it’s pink. I’m not going to sit here and argue because I know I’m colorblind.”


Carl Bassi, an associate professor and director of research at University of Missouri-St. Louis’ optometry school, said 8 percent of males have some color deficiency. Bassi is also in charge of the color vision-testing lab at UMSL.  

He said it is usually a genetic mutation on the X-chromosome, but it is possible for females to be color deficient. He said much less than 1 percent of all women have it, because they have two X-chromosomes and they are less likely to get it. Bassi also said there are some diseases and toxic effects that can make color deficiency an acquired trait.

Bassi said the term colorblind is outdated because patients are not blind to color—they have difficulties distinguishing colors.

“People think it’s black and white,” Osborne said. “No. I just have trouble telling colors apart that are similar to each other.”

Bassi said it is most commonly tested with pseudo isochromatic plates, which are dotted, colored numbers with a different dotted, colored background.

“I’d always mess that up or get it wrong,” Osborne said.

Bassi said there are some occupations, such as piloting, that require good color detection. Osborne wants to be a baseball coach or athletic administrator, which does not have any of those limitations.


There is no cure currently but he said there are some ways to help the issue. However, it sometimes creates other color vision issues.  

“People wear special coated contact lenses or special glasses,” he said. “That really doesn’t help correct the color deficiency.”

Osborne said it is not a big deal because he has dealt with it for 22 years.

“A baseball is white,” he said. “That’s all I need to know.”

He said his biggest issue on the field is a soft toss drill, which uses four different colors of tape on each ball. The batter has to yell what color the ball is while they hit it to boost hand eye coordination and make sure they keep their eye on the ball.

“I kept seeing the green and the blue one as dark,” Osborne said. “I’d see it come in and yell, ‘blue.’ [someone else would say,] ‘No, it’s green, what the hell is wrong with you?’ I’m just like, ‘I don’t know, it looks blue.’”

Osborne said his trouble off the baseball field is making sure he has the right colored belt and socks. However, he had matching problems before he came to SIU.

His sister Julia Osborne, 20 of Chandler, Ariz., said his clothes were mismatched until his sophomore year of high school.

“He would wear a green shirt with purple shoes and think he matched well when he really didn’t,” Julia said. “He seriously thought he looked good all the time. Someone finally said something. We all just let him go with it until he finally started asking for opinions.”

Julia said Parker has always had a sense of humor about it because it is not his fault.

Parker said his friends also love to give him a hard time when they play sports video games and one player has to have white uniforms and the other has to have dark uniforms.

“Everyone gets a good laugh out of it,” Osborne said. “I just wear it.”

Aaron Graff can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 256