Hunter Samworth, a 7-year-old boy who is deaf, enjoys baseball like any other kid might. But imagine his elation when Samworth and his family attended a recent Dayton (Ohio) Dragons minor league game and encountered Heater, the team's mascot — who struck up a conversation using sign language.
The Samworths were stunned — in the best possible way. Hunter's dad captured the moment on video and uploaded it just so family and friends could watch, but their experience has gone viral.
“You can see on the video, his smile is like, 'He gets me, he speaks my language, he understands me,' ” Hunter’s mother, Cheri Samworth, told local ABC affiliate WKEF. “Just a completely different experience for Hunter.”
An irony, of course, is that mascots don't usually talk. It's part of their mime-like code. Their actions speak — which probably is an attraction in the first place for people who are hard of hearing. Hunter Samworth appears to wear a cochlear implant, a device that helps the deaf hear, but he's described by his parents as being "non-verbal."
By making an effort to speak Samworth's language, Heater created a real-life version of the moment in "Miracle on 34th Street," when Kris Kringle speaks to the deaf child (or the Dutch one, as in the original version). It must have felt like a miracle to Samworth. Imagine that: Samworth got to experience something most other kids who like Heater could never do because he is deaf. And the conversation doesn't even violate the Mascot's Code of Silence because no sounds were made! Everybody wins.
No matter if it's happenstance that Heater and Hunter Samworth met, or if it was set up special by Dayton, a Class A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, it's a wonderful moment in the baseball season.
If you watch the conversation closely, you can see the gesture for "baseball" in American Sign Language:
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