The Washington Post, March 27, 1911 – Page 8
BY JOE S. JACKSON
Should Jim McAleer ever go out to Gallaudet College to give the baseball candidates squad a little talk he is bound to make an awful hit, and is likely to be awarded his “G” as an honorary member of the squad. For Mr. McAleer would be right at home among the boys, who would not be forced to do any lip reading. He can talk in the sign language as well as anybody, though, right now, not so rapidly as some.
McAleer’s proficiency in this accomplishment was something entirely unsuspected until last night. After the dinner hour, when most of the players, McAleer with them, were sitting about the hotel corridor enjoying their cigars, several mutes strolled in. They were fans, and the main purpose of their visit was to get a close-hand view of Walter Johnson and some other players, in whom they were specially interested. They stood not far from McAleer’s chair, and, as two of them were wigwagging questions and answers to each other, the Washington manager suddenly raised his right hand, twirled the fingers a few times, and supplied a bit of information that one had been seeking.
Everything stopped right then, and the boys, four of them in all, put away little pads and pencils, that they had prepared to use to get information from the players, and had about a half hour’s conversation with the manager. They got a little too fast for him at times, and he had to check them, but the boys followed McAleer easily, and were sometimes ahead of him, guessing words before he had them completed, and nodding for him to skip ahead. And he seemed to be going along pretty speedily at that.
“Dummy” Hoy taught McAleer the art of sign talking, but years ago, when they were playing together in the National League, but on different clubs. The men were mutually attracted toward each other, and, when their two clubs were playing a series, they usually spent considerable time in each other’s company. When he broke into baseball in the South, McAleer had played with a mute pitcher named Dundon, and had got a smattering of the sign language from this player. Hoy picked him up and perfected his knowledge, so that they could converse rapidly in a short time. Later McAleer had begun to lose a little of his knowledge, but he says that it came back to him quickly after he got started talking last night.
It was a big hit with the boys to be able to talk with a regular big leaguer without having recourse to the slower method of pad and pencil. In ten minutes they got a brief biography of every player on the club. This was the more easy, as all of the players crowded around to watch McAleer, and all that the boys had to do was to point out their man and begin asking questions. They knew a few of the players by sight, and all of the veterans by reputation.