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ASL University: "Dummy Hoy"


By Mallaidh Mleziva


William E. Hoy was born on May 23, 1862 in Houckstown, Ohio. He became deaf when he was two and attended Columbus Ohio School for the Deaf. No one would have expected him to become, in just a few years, one of the most talented and loved major league baseball players ever known.

Shortly after his graduation, he began to play semi-pro baseball. At the age of 24 in 1886, Hoy joined his first professional team, Oshkosh, Wisconsin of the Northwestern League, where he played for two seasons. This was the beginning of his national career. Hoy work out a system with the third-base coach to signal strikes and balls to him. The signals were later adopted by the umpires. A lifted right arm was a strike and a lifted left arm was a ball.

In 1888, Hoy started as an outfield with the Washington Senators. He was soon one of the best players on the team, setting many records. Being short and fast, Hoy was an amazing baserunner. Being ambidextrous, he threw with his right hand and batted left handed. In his first year, he was the Senator's leading hitter, led the team with 82 stolen bases, and set a Senator fielding record that still stands. On June 19, 1889, he made a outfield play seen only two times in history: throwing out three batters at home play from an outfield position.

After the Senators in 1891, Hoy was recruited by the American Association to play for the St. Louis Browns. This was the most skilled team that he had yet played on and he set some outstanding records. That year he led the league with 119 walks and led the Browns with 136 runs scored. However, the American Association folded after that season and Hoy returned to the Senators where he stayed for another two seasons.

Next, Hoy played for the Cincinnati Reds for four seasons. He was loved by the team and fans alike, settling there during the off-season. He was missed when he was traded in 1898 to the Louisville Colonels, where he played his two finest seasons. In 1898, he batted a .318 average. In 1899, he batted a .306 average. However, Hoy's amazing talent and record-breaking did not end after those two seasons. He went on to play for the White Sox in the new American League in 1901. That year, he hit the second grand slam seen by the league. Also that year, he played 130 games and hit a .294 average, assisting with the win of the first AL pennant for the White Sox. He set the overall baseball record of 45 assists from the field.

Hoy's major-league career was coming to a close when he returned to the Reds in 1902. Released in the middle of the season, Hoy was cheerful to move on. He joined the minor-league Los Angeles Looloos of the Pacific Coast Winter League, where he played his last game. In the last baseball game of his life, on a foggy night, Hoy caught a fly ball and got the third out. Not only winning the game of his team but also winning a pennant for the team. Hoy finished the Pacific Coast League with an outstanding 413 putouts and 46 stolen bases.

At the age of 42, Hoy went on to live a full life after his baseball career. Married to Anna Marie Lowery, they ran a 60-acre dairy farm outside of Cincinnati for 20 years. Hoy also became a public speaker, traveling to deliver his speeches. Not only did he carry on with those two hobbies but he also became the personnel director of several hundred deaf workers at Goodyear, coached their club baseball team for a year, and umpired many games for the Deaf teams.

In October of 1961, Hoy threw his last pitch at Crowley Field in Cincinnati. He tossed the first ball of the third World Series. Two short months later, on December 15, 1961, William Hoy passed away at the age of 99. Hoy left a legacy in baseball and also in the Deaf community. He had played 18 seasons on professional teams, raking up 1,792 games (or 1,798 depending on the source), with a .228 batting average, 1004 walks, and 2,954 hits. He was one of the few players who played in 4 of the 5 recognized major leagues: the National League, the short-lived Players' League, the original American Association, and the American League.

Hoy was a gentlemanly and polite man, well-liked by teammates and fans alike, and well-known for his honest. In a time with baseball could often be heated, Hoy was known for remaining calm and collected, never being thrown out of a game. He is commonly known as "Dummy" Hoy, as most of the Deaf players were called, such as "Dummy" Taylor who played for the New York Giants for a time. Hoy taught his teammates to communicate with some sign language and even the fans picked up on this by performing an early form of "Deaf applause," standing on the bleachers and waving their arms and hats. Paving the way for a permanent change in baseball, he was the start of the "out" and "safe" signs of the umpire.

Hoy was an outstandingly talented and loved player. He was loved by the Deaf community and baseball fans as a whole. His stand-up, gentleman ways earned his place in the hearts of many people. He also earned his place in the American Athletic Association of the Deaf's Hall of Fame. Hoy was the first person to be enshrined and was voted in unanimously. A campaign continues in its efforts to get Hoy into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Joshua Leland Evans of the Sports Collectors Digest said, "Maybe Dummy Hoy didn't hit as many home runs as Babe Ruth or Hank Aaron or have as many singles as Ty Cobb or Pete Rose. But he did more. He is a symbol of people who just need to be given a chance -- a chance to be treated just like everyone else. Put Dummy Hoy in the Hall of Fame."

Citations:

1. "Dummy Hoy Statistics and History | Baseball-Reference.com." Baseball-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Web. 14 June 2015. <http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/h/hoydu01.shtml>.

2. "Dummy Hoy (William Hoy) - The First Deaf Major League Baseball Player." Start ASL. Web. 13 June 2015. <http://www.start-american-sign-language.com/dummy-hoy.html>.

3. "Welcome to the "Dummy" Hoy Homeplate." Welcome to the "Dummy" Hoy Homeplate. MSM Productions. Web. 13 June 2015. <http://www.dummyhoy.com/>.
 

 


Also see: "Dummy Hoy & Dummy Taylor"
Also see: "Baseball"
Also see: "Baseball and ASL"


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