Deaf Baseball Players
There was some deaf professional baseball player, who was successful players in the Major League Baseball (MLB), beginning in 1883. But, first thing is give credit to the first deaf player in the MLB was Ed Dundon. Even though Mr. Dundon was the first professional deaf baseball player, William Hoy is given more recognition since he played longer in the MLB. The most recent deaf professional baseball player is Curtis Pride. Becoming a MLB player was not easy for these men. The new and upcoming player is currently playing college baseball for Texas A & M University.
According to the Royals Review, there are some questions; “what would baseball be without sound? What if the filter were turned the other way, screening out sound instead? How would you experience the game? How would you play it?” Since the game is played using hearing, from the umpire calls to hearing the ball hit off the bat. How are these men being so successful in the world of baseball? In a country built on the belief of individual freedoms, defining the first word has sometimes been more difficult than ensuring the second.
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Mr. Ed Dundon’s hearing loss is thought to be genetic since he has two siblings that were deaf also. Neither of his parents was deaf. He was born in Columbus Ohio in 1859. He stayed at the Ohio Institute for the Education of Deaf and Dumb during the school year, starting at the age of nine until his twenties. Ed Dundon MLB career was short-lived; he only pitched for two seasons with the Columbus Buckeyes. His nickname was Dummy. After retiring, Mr. Dundon became an umpire. He was believed to the first person to use hand signals to make calls on the field.
William Hoy was born into a world that did not understand or know how to handle his deafness. “His nickname was ‘Dummy,’ which he wore with pride.” Since his deafness was shaped by a bout with meningitis as a child. During the time he was growing up “dumb” and “mute” were interchanged meaning the same thing, lack of communication with the hearing world. He worked to be recognized as an individual and not defined by being deaf. When Mr. Hoy was approached by the scout, and the lack of being able to communicate with the scout, had originally frightened the scout away. But, the scout did not stay away, the next day he came with paper and pencil to communicate with Mr. Hoy and had him a contract to play professional baseball. Hoy had a specific way to communicate with his teammates on the field, because of his deafness. He wrote the following sentence on the clubhouse wall about fielding “Whenever you don’t hear me yell, it is understood I am not after the ball, and they govern themselves accordingly. Since William’s time deaf players have become rarer. “After 1945, only Curtis Pride has made the major leagues as a deaf player, 1993-2006.”
Curtis Pride has been the last deaf major league player. “He played in the MLB for 13 years”. Although being profoundly deaf since birth, it was not discovered until he was 9 years old. Making to the major leagues was extremely hard for Pride, his teammates and coaches along the way said he would not make it to the majors. He like the few that made it to the majors were ridiculed and made fun of for having such high goals. These people actually motivated him if they realized it or not, because he refused to give up. It took Mr. Pride 8 years of playing in the minors before he got his MLB debut. Mr. Pride is currently in his ninth season as the baseball coach for Gallaudet University, and was named to the MLB Ambassador for Inclusion in 2016.
Today, we still struggle with the right way to handle differences between ourselves, especially when it comes to communication. We have as a nation gotten some better, but still a long way to go. Because of the communication barrier people avoided or not even bother to try to talk to the deaf players. Most journalists did not seem to want to get to know the players, because they did not want to or maybe care to take the extra time to write the questions or read the answers. These men were/are smart educated men. It is a shame that as a society we are afraid of people who are different, not just deaf people, but anybody that is different than the “norm”.