From Kansas to Giants, a Pioneer’s Trail of Wins and Wit; Deaf BB Player

October 24, 2014 in Community News, Hearing Loss & Deafness

 

 

New York Times

OLATHE, Kan. — A Giant is buried in Kansas.

Baldwin City, Kan., is a mere 50 miles from Kauffman Stadium, the home of the Kansas City Royals, this year’s American League champion. It is where Luther Taylor, who was known as Dummy Taylor, was buried in 1958, the year his former team, the Giants, began play in San Francisco, having moved from the Polo Grounds in Upper Manhattan.

Taylor was a pioneering pitcher, a colorful and charismatic character who could neither hear nor speak but who could throw a baseball with expertise. He helped the Giants win their first World Series of the modern baseball era, in 1905, and bridged a gap between hearing and nonhearing athletes, and he remains a unique link between Kansas City and the Giants.

During Taylor’s time with the Giants, from 1900 to 1908, many of his teammates learned to sign, and Taylor kept them laughing — and sometimes winning — for much of his career.

“He stands as an inspiration to many people,” said Sandra Kelly, a former teacher and principal at the Kansas School for the Deaf, where Taylor starred in baseball and later coached, in Olathe (pronounced oh-LAY-tha), a city 20 miles southwest of downtown Kansas City, Mo. “It’s pretty clear from the stories how much his teammates loved and respected him.”

Photo

Luther Taylor kept his teammates loose with his sense of humor and umpires on edge with his salty sign language.CreditGeorge Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress 

Kelly is now the executive director of the Deaf Cultural Center here, which sits directly across the street from the school. The center houses a museum with an exhibit dedicated to Taylor, one of the school’s most celebrated graduates, along with Paul Hubbard, who is said to be the inventor of the football huddle.

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