A few weeks ago I ran a Ticker item linking to this photo of Jim Kyte blow-drying his hearing aid. That led Teebz to post a comment linking to the photo you see at right — Kyte’s specially modified helmet, with ear coverings to protect his hearing aids. And that in turn led me to ask if anyone knew of other deaf athletes with specialized equipment needs.
The response was fascinating. Here’s a sampling:
• From Brad Larocque: “I remember Jim Kyte coming to our school and talking to us about playing with his impairment. He told about his trick of watching the reflections in the glass to see where everyone was on the ice, since he couldn’t hear them very well.”
• From Joe Falender: “I wear hearing aids, as I can hear about 50% in both ears. I used to play a lot of hockey, all the way up to high school. For my hearing aids, I wore the behind-the-ear model. But by the third period, or even the second period, the sweat would get into the hearing aid and it would have to be dried out, which takes about an hour or two, so I would give the hearing aid to my dad and play the rest of the game without them. Finally after being fed up with this, we got these rubbery covers that would slide over the hearing aid and protect it from the sweat. It worked like a miracle. (Nowadays I wear the in-the-cannal aids that are very small and I don’t have to worry about the sweat at all.)
• From Travis Waldron: “Not sure about the rules and regulations on hearing aids, but the University of Kentucky football team had a deaf defensive lineman, Terry Clayton, for the past four years. He couldn’t wear his hearing aids on the field because the crowd noise was magnified over everything else, creating background noise that kept him from hearing anything on the field.”
• From David Kendrick: “I am hearing-impaired and play ice hockey in a regular recreational league. I always let the refs know before the game that I don’t hear very well and ask them to cut me some slack when giving verbal commands (for example, look directly at me so I can try to read your lips). Some do, some don’t. Most of the other players have been around a few seasons and know about it. I’ve played in deaf leagues and tournaments as well. I don’t wear a hearing aid as the Jets player did, but I do wear my eyeglasses when I play. I’ve got the double smackdown: partially deaf and 20-600 nearsightedness.”
• From: Daniel Weimann: “I go to the Rochester Institute of Technology, which has the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, one of the two largest deaf schools in the country. I’m a member of the swim team and we have several deaf students, as well as a former swimmer and now a coach who are deaf or hard of hearing, ranging from cochlear implants to hearing aids. They always take their hearing aids off before they swim, of course. Sometimes they forget to turn them off in their lockers and they make high-pitched squealing sounds.”
• From: Mark Doescher: “Defensive back Martel Van Zant plays for the Oklahoma State football and is completely deaf. He has an interpreter who stays on the sidelines during practice and games and communicates between both the coaches and the player. There’s more information here”
• From Christian Bitto: “Steve Downie of the Flyers wears a hearing aid. His has a disorder caused by a car accident from when he was younger. On January 22nd, he fought David Clarkson, and at the end of the fight, as he was skating off the ice, the ref gave him his hearing aid that was knocked out. Unfortunately, I can’t find any video of the fight that goes past the refs breaking them up.”
• From: Vince Grzegorek: “Just found this article on an all-deaf soccer team in Iraq. Refs at their games have to wave a flag instead of using a whistle.”
• From Eric Hodges: “Interesting article here about the way Gallaudet University in DC used a drum to help time the snaps and how a new coach shifted things up.” [You can see the drum on the sidelines here, and there’s additional info here. — PL]
• From Joshua Wagner: “When playing football in high school, I never once considered wearing my hearing aids, because they are highly fragile machines worth thousands of dollars. As a cornerback, I merely learned the defensive signals and read them from the defensive coordinator as he was signaling to the middle linebacker in the huddle. Also, I had worked out some hand signals with my fellow players. I had an interpreter on the sidelines at all times, but I was on my own on the field. Being deaf actually made me a better player, because it forced me to be more observant by noticing subtle things, like the pressure on people’s feet and hands signaling their intent to drop back or run forward. Similarly, when running track, sometimes I would have the starter stand directly behind my starter blocks, because then they would be close enough for me to feel the starting gun rather than hearing it. In basketball, I was a point guard and my interpreter would sit next to my coach and sign what he was telling me as I dribbled the ball up. My coach would also signal a play number to me.”
Tremendous stuff. Big thanks to all who contributed, and especially to those who shared their personal experiences.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Kevin Millar shattered a pink bat the other day. … While working on last Friday’s ESPN column about the ABA, I happened upon a few shots of the Nets wearing memorial “4” patches on their warm-up shirts. Anyone know who that was for? … Pueblo Central High in Colorado pulled some major throwback action last week — dig those belts! Too bad they ruined it with those period-inappropriate headbands (with thanks to Patrick Chippeaux). … Hmmm, do the Walsh University Cavaliers look just a bit familiar? (Thanks, Vince.) … This page has a nice little video showing Mizuno reps making glove repairs and modifications for some of the Astros in spring training (with thanks to Matt Englander). … Larry Bowa is being diplomatic, as always. … OHL report from Brian Thompson, who writes: “Wanted to point your attention to last Thursday night’s game between the Belleville Bulls and the Windsor Spitfires, which was the Spitfires’ first game since captain Mickey Renaud passed away last Monday. Not only did the Spitfires come out in Mickey Renaud warmup jerseys, but so did the Bulls. After the warmups concluded, the Spitfires had a ceremony laying their Renaud jerseys on a table, revealing their game jerseys with a small memorial chest patch.” … Reprinted from Friday’s comments: Jose Reyes appears to have been stretching his pants under his heel (which got Pedro Martinez fined in 2006) the other day. … Really interesting story here about Jaromir Jagr using logo-free sticks. … We’ve talked before about the inconsistencies among teams mistaking their 10th season for their 10th anniversary (or 20th, or 30th, or whatever). But Eric Iwamoto has noticed a particularly amusing anomaly: The Giants wore this patch in 1997, but they’re now wearing this one in 2008 — 11 years later, not 10. … FC Dallas unveiled new uniforms last week (with thanks to Mark Dancer). … Wouldn’t it be better if Stephen Valiquette wore this on the front of his mask? (Thanks to Michael Romero.) … Interesting racer-back girls’ hoops jersey concept here — note the team name on the rear neckline (with thanks to Michael Orr). … According to Chad Back, Kentucky will have new hoops unis next season, as seen here and here. “Nike is calling the design ‘Secretariat,'” says Chad, “because the checkerboard design on the new unis is reminiscent of the silks that Secretariat’s jockey wore.” Yeah, patterning a uniform worn by the sports world’s tallest athletes after a design worn by the smallest athletes — that sounds like a really great idea. … AJ Brandt reports that the Flames are wearing an 18 decal in tribute to their draft pick Mickey Renaud, who passed away last week. … Georgia Tech’s women’s hoops team wore throwbacks the other day. Not as cool as this, but still pretty good (with thanks to Richard Musterer and Sean Bedford). … Aside from the obvious button issues, how does an A.L. pitcher end up with such a big dirt stain while pitching at home? (Card provided by Stuart Greenlee.) … Jeremy Brahm sent along this 2001 photo of Yakult Swallows catcher Atsushi Furuta wearing a knee brace outside his pants. Never seen that before. … Characteristically eagle-eyed branding report from Mark Mihalik: “Last year I noticed that Gary Sheffield, a longtime Nike guy, had started wearing non-Nike cleats, and he also had a unique logo on some of his gear–particularly his wristbands. In this photo, you’ll see something that looked like an S or a 3. I figured it was some kind of signature logo, but it turns out it’s actually a signature company called GS3. Even though there’s apparently absolutely nothing on the internet about this brand, I found an auction for a pair of his game-used cleats that confirms it. It’s also what his Tigers teammate Carlos Guillen was wearing through parts of last season, and both he and Sheffield have been wearing the same model so far this spring.” … Just because it was called the MLB Urban Invitational, did Southern’s coach have to leave the sticker on his brim? (Screen grab courtesy of Randy Williams.) … Buncha good spring training pics from Kenn Tomasch: Flapless helmets being worn by coaches Roberto Kelly, Mike Quade, and Ivan DeJesus (good to see that the Cubbie coaches get to wear the team’s standard embroidered felt logo appliqués), and a vendor who knows a thing or two about striped socks. … Wren Wrangler notes that Andres Nocioni was wearing tights yesterday. As you may recall, these were banned except for instances of medical necessity — can’t wait to hear if Nocioni had a doctor’s note for this one. … Last week I ran this photo of the new Oregon State baseball uniforms, but I didn’t realize they were using striped stirrups (with thanks to Mark Snider). … Numerological observation from Duncan Gee, who writes: “In the third quarter Friday night against the Sixers, the Golden State Warriors had Stephen Jackson, Mickael Pietrus, Al Harrington, Chris Webber, and Baron Davis on the court for a few minutes — Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, respectively. Consecutive numbers maybe an East Bay thing — last year, the Oakland A’s on many occassions had Mike Piazza (#31), Jack Cust (#32), and Nick Swisher (#33) as the 3-4-5 heart of the batting order.” … On Friday I ran Paul Wiederecht‘s analysis of that old Yankee Stadium vendor’s uniform, including his mother’s recollection that the stadium’s dominant color had been green until Lou Dorfsman had the facade painted white and had the seats changed to blue. Now he’s provided a bunch of old shots that show the stadium’s green phase, as seen here, here, and here. … I’ll be on the road today, so please play nice while I’m gone. Thanks.