Royals to Honor Trailblazer Taylor

Do you know who Ryan Ketchner is? What about Curtis Pride? Both are baseball players. Both are trying to make their team’s Major League roster. Both are deaf.

Ketchner is a pitcher with the San Diego Padres’ Triple-A Portland team, while Pride, who has appeared in 421 games in 11 seasons in the Majors, is an outfielder for Salt Lake, the Class AAA affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels. According to the Padres 2007 Media Guide, Ketchner, 25, is “trying to become the first deaf pitcher in the Major Leagues since 1908.”And, as listed in the Los Angeles Angels 2007 Media Guide, Pride, 38, was “born 95 percent deaf due to rubella infection and is the fifth deaf Major League player in history and first since 1945.”

Both are following in the footsteps of Luther “Dummy” Taylor and his accomplishments of a century ago to overcome their hearing disability and follow their dreams of being baseball players.

On Saturday, the Royals will recognize Taylor for his contributions to baseball during pre-game ceremonies at Kauffman Stadium. As one of the few deaf players in the league, Taylor turned to sign language to communicate with coaches and teammates. The method proved successful for the Olathe, Kan., native, as he compiled a career record of 116-106 with a 2.75 ERA from 1900-1908. He won 21 games in 1904 for the pennant-winning New York Giants and compiled a 51-30 mark from the mound pitching for the Giants and the Cleveland Blues during the 1905-1908 seasons. The sign language used by deaf players during that time is credited for the league’s modern-day use of baseball signs today. And, players such as Taylor, helped paved the way for many young athletes looking to overcome a disability or impairment to see their dreams come true!

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