Who’da Thunk it?
The Kansas City Royals in the World Series! Of course, they are playing the San Francisco Giants and the series is going on as this is posted on October 28, 2014. At Hearing International we had a baseball post a few weeks ago about Dummy Hoy, a deaf player instrumental in the development of the sign language used on the baseball field. The New York Times has called our attention to another famous player who provides an interesting yet little known connection between Kansas City and the Giants….
The Story Begins….
As a teenager Arnold Taylor moved from Iowa to northeast Kansas with his parents, settling in Oskaloosa. Oskaloosa was and still is a farming community about 50 miles west of Kansas City and about half way between Topeka and Leavenworth. As a young man, Arnold worked hard on the farm and was part of a group instrumental in insuring that Kansas did not join the western slavery states of the time. Thanks to his efforts and those of other like-minded Kansans, the state was admitted to the union as a free state in January 1861, only 3 months before the outbreak of the US Civil War.
For a number of years during the war the Kansas militia and other military units were in disarray, as many of the citizens sympathized with the South, others with the North. Many of the Southern sympathizers did not agree with the free state policy and created havoc around the state and Quantrill’s Raiders became active in Kansas and to the east in Missouri, a slave state. By 1864 the Civil War had come to Kansas. Arnold enlisted in Company B of the 17th Kansas Volunteer Infantry and fought alongside other Union loyalists in battles within the state.
After the war, Arnold returned to Oskaloosa, married Emeline Chatford in 1866, and began to build his family and a successful farm. The Taylors were active in community affairs and other activities offered in late 19th century agrarian society. Arnold and Emeline had 6 children, the third of whom, born February 21, 1875, was Luther Haden Taylor.
It is not known if Luther was born deaf or if his deafness was an acquired impairment from disease or other causes. He was not listed as a handicapped child in the 1880 census. Possibly his parents did not know of his deafness by age 4 or so, as the discovery of hearing impairment took much longer in the 19th century than it does now. By age 10 Luther was living and studying at the Kansas School for the Deaf in Olathe, Kansas. He worked hard at school, dreamed of being a famous boxer, and was the valedictorian of his 1895 graduating class. He also developed a passion for baseball.
When he was not farming, young Luther spent much of 1895 to 1900 playing in the semiprofessional baseball leagues around Kansas, Missouri and Illinois. Also playing in these leagues then was another famous Kansan, Dwight Eisenhower, before he attended West Point. In 1900 Luther signed with the New York Giants, where he became a successful major league pitcher while also revolutionizing some common techniques of his time and inventing others. “Dummy” Taylor, as he inevitably became known, developed new hand signals to some thought to have been invented by Dummy Hoy, an accomplished contemporary deaf player for the Cincinnati Reds.
Taylor, who led the National League in games pitched one season with 45, spent 9 years with the Giants. During this time, he won 115 games and lost 103 and had a 2.77 ERA (Earned Run Average), impressive numbers for any pitcher, whether deaf or hearing. In 1904, his record was 16-9 and he was part of the Giants World Series team for that year.
Not only was he good on the field, but he also revolutionized the interactions in the clubhouse with deaf players. Luther also had a great sense of humor with his teammates and most of them, encouraged by the Giants’ manager, John McGraw, learned sign language so they could communicate with him, tell jokes, and appreciate his great humor and clubhouse banter.
Among the many Dummy Taylor stories is one about how he wore a raincoat and rubber boots as a third base coach in a game on a rainy to shame the umpires into calling the game. He got ejected from the game for that one! Or there was the time he was cussing out an umpire in sign language and got thrown out of the game and fined $25 because the umpire knew sign language.
Later in life, Luther returned to the Kansas School for the Deaf and became a coach and later coached and also taught physical education at the Iowa and Illinois Schools for the Deaf. Anderson (2014) says that Taylor “accomplished a great deal in his life, building a bridge between those who could hear and those that didn’t.” In 1936 he was awarded a lifetime pass to the major leagues. In 1952 he became the second player inducted into the American Athletic Association for the Deaf. He remained involved with baseball until the 1950s, umpiring local games and scouting for the Giants, Luther Haden “Dummy” Taylor died at the age of 82 in Jacksonville, Illinois in August 1958. In 1961, the Kansas School for the Deaf named its gymnasium for him. In 2006 Luther Taylor was inducted into the Kansas Baseball Hall of Fame. (Click here or on the man to the left for a video)
So there is a strong connection between the two teams in the 2014 World Series. Luther “Dummy” Taylor played for the Giants, when they played in New York, but he was a kid from just outside Kansas City. He not only “bridged a gap between hearing and non-hearing athletes,” but he also forged “a unique link between Kansas City and the Giants.”
Walstein, D. (2014). From Kansas to Giants, a pioneer’s trail of wins and wit. New York times, October 22. Retrieved October 27, 2014: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/23/sports/baseball/world-series-2014-a-silent-link-between-the-giants-and-kansas-city.html?_r=0
Find a Grave, Arnold B. Taylor. Retrieved October 28, 2014: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=13703557
Family Search, 17th Regiment Kansas Infantry. Retrieved October 27, 2014: https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/17th_Regiment,_Kansas_Infantry
Wikipedia (2014). Luther Haden “Dummy” Taylor. Retrieved October 27, 2014: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dummy_Taylor
Baseball reference.com (2014). Retrieved October 27, 2014: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/t/taylodu01.shtml?redir
Burke, J., People- Luther “Dummy” Taylor-deaf professional baseball player. About Health. Retrieved October 28, 2014: http://deafness.about.com/od/sports/p/dummytaylor.htm
Anderson, D., (2014). Dummy Taylor. Society for American Baseball Research, Retrieved October 27, 2014: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/14fca2f4
Dummy Taylor, Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved: October 28, 2014: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dummy_Taylor
Official Site, Kansas City Royals Baseball Club (2014). Retrieved October 28, 2014: http://kansascity.royals.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=kc
Official Site, San Francisco Giants baseball Club (2014). Retrieved October 28, 2014: http://sanfrancisco.giants.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=sf
Collector focus.com (2014). Dummy Taylor baseball card. Retrieved October 27, 2014: http://www.collectorfocus.com/collection/Topp64/t206s
Team picture 1894 Baseball Team. Kansas State School for the Deaf. Retrieved October 27, 2014: http://mobile.nytimes.com/slideshow/100000003191337/2014/10/23/sports/baseball/world-series-2014-a-silent-link-between-the-giants-and-kansas-city.html
Deaf History Dummy Taylor, Retrieved October 28, 2014: http://www.mashpedia.com/Dummy_Taylor
Taylor was no Dummy, (2010). Eufala Tribue. Retrieved October 28, 2014: http://www.dothaneagle.com/eufaula_tribune/obituaries/article_ebf96161-f18d-50a4-9e14-5f1dd49411a4.html