Luther "Dummy" Taylor - Deaf MLB Player

Luther "Dummy" Taylor was a deaf-mute Major League baseball player 1900-1908. ShaunaMullins/Getty Images

Dummy Taylor's Birth, Life, and Death:

His real name was Luther Haden Taylor. "Dummy" Taylor was born Deaf to hearing parents on February 21, 1875, and died August 22, 1958. 

Taylor attended the Kansas State School for the Deaf and started out in the minor baseball leagues before graduating to the major leagues. His primary role was as a pitcher. It is said that he had an advantage because of his deafness in that he was particularly good at reading facial expressions and picking up the other teams hand signals.

 

Dummy Taylor's Career Highlights:

Dummy Taylor's baseball career spanned 1900 to 1908. The first major league game he played was August 27, 1900, and his last game was September 29, 1908. For eight full seasons, he played with the New York Giants; part of one season was with the Cleveland Indians. His final record as a pitcher was 115-106.

Interestingly, on May 16, 1902, the Giants played against the Cincinnati Reds, who had another deaf player - Dummy Hoy. Hoy's team won.

Common Stories About Dummy Taylor:

His manager learned sign language. One day, he and the manager were talking about an umpire. The umpire knew sign language, realized they were talking about him and made both of them leave the game. Plus, Taylor's entire Giants team reportedly learned at least some sign language.

Another funny story is on page 294 of Deaf Heritage. That page has a cartoon and tells about the time that Taylor stopped a baseball game on a rainy day by wearing rain boots and carrying an umbrella.

(Also, page 271 of Deaf Heritage has a Giants team picture with Taylor).

Dummy Taylor's Retirement from Baseball:

After his baseball career ended, Dummy Taylor worked on the staff of three schools for the deaf - Kansas, Iowa, and Illinois. At these schools, he was either a supervisor and/or athletic director.

Dummy Taylor's Legacy and Honors:

The deaf community has honored Taylor in two different ways. First, in 1952, Taylor was inducted into the American Athletic Association of the Deaf (now the USA Deaf Sports Federation) Hall of Fame. Second, the gym at the Kansas State School for the Deaf was named after Taylor - the Taylor Gymnasium.

Dummy Taylor Baseball Collectibles:

Taylor was featured on various cards, including 1903 Sporting Life Cabinets, 1904 Allegheny Card Company, 1905 Rotograph Company, and 1906 Fan Craze NL. In addition, Taylor was also featured in a fictional novel, Havana Heat.

Dummy Taylor Baseball Statistics:

For those who are interested in detailed baseball statistics, the Baseball-Reference.com site has detailed statistics on Taylor's pitching, batting, and fielding.

Dummy Taylor Web Articles:

There is a nicely written article about Dummy Taylor on the Baseball Biography Project site. The bibliography for that article includes the book Great Deaf Americans.

Sources:

Anderson D (2004). Dummy Taylor. Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved September 29, 2015, from http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/14fca2f4

Updated by Melissa Karp, Au.D.

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