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Deaf child stunned and overjoyed by baseball mascot speaking sign language with him

May 30, 2014 By Joey

The Dayton Dragons are an affiliate team of the Cincinnati Reds and are one of the most popular teams in minor league baseball. One of their biggest fans is 7-year-old Hunter Samworth, a shy kid who’s also deaf.

When he approached the mascot at a recent game, Hunter was surprised that a team employee escorting the dragon began speaking with him in ASL. Then Heater the Dragon started signing with him too…

As mom says in the background, “I think I’m gonna cry.”


  1. Noam Sienna says:

    So actually this video is a little strange for a couple of reasons: the kid has cochlear implants and his parents are speaking to him, so clearly his parents have opted for the oral strategy, i.e. speaking with their child and medically enhancing his hearing rather than learning sign language.

    Then there’s someone with him apparently interpreting into sign, except the kid doesn’t appear to understand what is being said to him either by the interpreter or by the mascot (or what is spoken to him by his parents, for that matter). The interpreter finger spells his own name to him but he parrots it back, and then the mascot signs “you like baseball?” but he just mimics back “baseball”. The father asks him orally “did you like that” but he doesn’t seem to register that either. So this seems to be a sad moment of a kid with little access to language either oral or signed, as many Deaf* children unfortunately are, due to parental ignorance, and lack of community resources. The only reason this became popular, I’m guessing, is because of the apparent novelty of a mascot who knows a few words in sign language.

    (This comment co-written with my brother, a student of ASL and interpreter-in-training).

  2. M says:

    This is a very sweet video. The smile on Hunter’s face says it all.

    Noam Sienna – The other person who is signing is a team employee helping the mascot, not an interpreter. At the very beginning of the video you can see the tail end of Hunter fingerspelling his own name. Then the employee introduces himself. Hunter is repeating him for clarity. He does respond to the dragon. You don’t know that the man speaking didn’t sign at the same time. The fact that we didn’t see Hunter respond could mean any number of different things – he is excited and distracted – not to mention you can’t see his hands.

    Perhaps this child’s parents have chosen to embrace the bi-lingual/bi-cultural model. Maybe they speak to him at home and someone signs with him at school. Maybe they started out with the oral strategy but found it wasn’t working for their child and so started to learn sign. Maybe he has been very successful orally and has chosen to learn ASL for fun. Maybe they primarily speak but sign when conditions are not optimal for hearing (i.e. loud baseball games). Maybe Hunter and his family face other challenges that we know nothing about.There isn’t one correct way to do raise a D/deaf child. Many people who have cochlear implants consider themselves to be culturally Deaf. Placing judgement on people based on a 1 minute video is ignorant at best – downright hurtful at worst.

  3. James says:


    I’m a season ticket holder for the Dayton Dragons, and while I have no authority to speak on their behalf – I would like to state that the team does an EXCELLENT job of trying to embrace all types of people here in the Dayton market. With regard to what was the parents and the child with implants having I’m not sure, but if you watch the video posted by the local news team (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/02/deaf-fan-meets-mascot-sign-language_n_5432840.html – shows it) – you’ll see that the boy was amazed that the mascot was signing.

    I’m proud of my team and my town – GO DRAGONS!

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