By Sarah McCluskey
Dummy Hoy and Dummy Taylor
Today, the word “dummy” is considered offensive and is used with the
intent to insult someone.
In the past, however it was common for people to use the word
"dummy" to simply mean that a person was silent or mute.
There have been a number of Deaf athletes that
were nicknamed “Dummy.”
One famous Deaf athlete was William “Dummy” Hoy. His real name was
William Ellsworth Hoy. He accepted the nickname “Dummy,” correcting
people who called him William. He was a major league baseball player
in the 19th century. His career started in 1888, playing as a center
fielder. It is important for the outfielders, second baseman, and
shortstop to communicate with each other. They don’t use hand
signals though because they are watching for the ball. Only William
calls for the ball if he has it because he can’t hear the others. If
the other outfielders and infielders heard William's squeaky sound,
they knew it meant that William "had it." He posted a statement on
the clubhouse wall saying, “Being totally Deaf as you know and some
of my teammates being unacquainted with my play, I think it is
timely to bring about an understanding between myself, the left
fielder, the shortstop and the second baseman and the right fielder.
The main point is to avoid possible collisions with any of these
four who surround me when in the field going for a fly ball.
Whenever I take a fly ball I always yell I'll take it--the same as I
have been doing for many seasons and of course the other fielders
let me take it. Whenever you don't hear me yell, it is understood I
am not after the ball, and they govern themselves accordingly."
His best years were in Cincinnati as a Red from
1902*. During his 14-year career, he played for seven teams from both
leagues. He died at the age of 99 in 1961. He threw the ceremonial
first pitch before game 3 of the World Series between the Yankees
and the Reds. In his last year as a Red in the majors, he batted
against another Deaf player who was a pitcher for the Giants. The
pitcher’s name was Luther Haden “Dummy” Taylor.
Luther Taylor’s career lasted nine seasons. He wanted to be a boxer
but his parents said no so he started playing baseball. His career
in the majors started in 1900 when he received a call up to the New
York Giants to finish the rest of the season. In 1902, he started
his season with the Cleveland Bronchos. He wasn’t happy to be in
Cleveland because he felt left out. Players didn’t learn sign
language and were uncommunicative. The Giants owner sent their
catcher, Frank Bowerman, to get Luther back. He would sit in the
grandstand and every time Luther walked to the pitching mound and
back to the bench, he would talk with his fingers. Luther shook his
head as Frank raised the money. Finally, Luther nodded his head and
left Cleveland. Before he did, an umpire named Napoleon Lajoie, said
Luther was the only Deaf mute to ever be tossed out of a game for
talking back to an umpire. His Deafness didn’t stop him from arguing
or talking back. He could read other team’s signs because of his
eyesight and read a base runner’s intentions by studying his facial
expressions. One time, Taylor had thrown out five guys who had
attempted to steal third. The last guy he caught, he went over to
him and signed that he could hear them stealing. When he coached
first base, he was making a spinning motion, indicating that the
umpire, Hank O’Day had wheels in his head. O’Day got even, spelling,
"You go to the clubhouse. Pay $25." O’Day happened to know sign
language, being raised by a Deaf parent and other relatives. After
his playing days, he became an umpire from 1915 to 1938. Those who
loved to ride umpires were lucky because Taylor couldn’t hear them.
In 1933, he began working for the Illinois School for the Deaf in
Jacksonville. He was a coach, teacher, and housefather for the
school until 1949. He died at the age of 82 in 1958.
It is not really surprising that there are Deaf athletes in the
world. They use hand signals to communicate with the Hearing people
around them, (such as coaches and teammates). They work hard and
practice just as their Hearing teammates do. The achievements of
Deaf athletes are inspiring because they show others, Hearing and
Deaf alike, that it is possible to overcome physical challenges in
order to pursue that which they are passionate about doing.
Hannah. "The Open Book." The Open Book. Lee & Low Books, 16 Aug.
2012. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. <http://blog.leeandlow.com/2012/08/16/when-did-the-word-dummy-become-derogatory/>.
Berger, Ralph. "SABR." Dummy Hoy. SABR, 2012. Web. 13 Sept. 2012.
Anderson, David. "SABR." Dummy Taylor. SABR, 2012. Web. 13 Sept.
* Editor's note:
Appreciation to: Steve Sandy (Hoy Researcher)
for supplying the information that
"Dummy Hoy's years with the Reds were from
1894-1897 and 1902."
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