Posted by: Ron DuBour | September 4, 2020

Knowing your American Heroes ~ William Ellsworth “Dummy” Hoy (18962-1961) ~ by rldubour

Friday! Time for an American Hero! Today is:


Knowing your American Heroes

William Ellsworth “Dummy” Hoy (18962-1961)

Dummy Hoy - Wikipedia

Born in Houcktown, Ohio

William Ellsworth Hoy

At age three had meningitis

Left him deaf this baby boy.


Sent to study in Columbus the

Ohio State School for the Deaf.

Was class valedictorian

His ability was deft.


Shortly after graduating.

Opened his own shoe repair store.

Played baseball on the weekends

This love would bring a great deal more.


Signed a professional contract

With an Oshkosh, Wisconsin team.

The year was eighteen-eighty-six

To play pro ball was his dream.


To the Washington Nationals

Of the American Association.

The year was eighteen-eighty-eight

Major league baseball his vocation.


The most accomplished deaf player

In major league history.

For offense and his defense

Could not hear but sure could see.


Set many major league records

All during his career.

Played in all four different leagues

Gave his fans reason to cheer.


Hoy and his wife Anna-Maria

Retired and bought a dairy farm.

A hero for not just deaf people

All of baseball knew his charm.


Two months before his death

At the age of ninety-nine.

Nineteen-sixty-one World Series

Threw the first ball and did fine.


Even though this man was deaf

And Dummy was his nickname.

He conquered all his dreams

And hangs in three Halls of Fame.


AUTHOR NOTES: Born in the small town of Houcktown, Ohio, Hoy became deaf after suffering from meningitis at age three, and went on to graduate from the Ohio State School for the Deaf in Columbus as class valedictorian. He opened a shoe repair store in his hometown and played baseball on weekends, earning a professional contract in 1886 with an Oshkosh, Wisconsin team which was managed by Frank Selee in 1887. In 1888, with the Washington Nationals of the American Association. Hoy became the third deaf player in the major leagues, after pitcher Ed Dundon and catcher Tom Lynch. In his rookie year he led the league in stolen bases (although the statistic was defined differently prior to 1898), and also finished second with 69 walks while batting .274. At 5’4″ and batting left-handed, he was able to gain numerous walks with a small strike zone, leading the league twice and compiling an excellent .386 career on base percentage. He is noted for being the most accomplished deaf player in major league history, and is credited by some sources with causing the establishment of signals for safe and out calls

He held the major league record for games in center field (1,726) from 1899 to 1920, set records for career putouts (3,958) and total chances (4,625) as an outfielder, and retired among the leaders in outfield games (2nd; 1,795), assists (7th; 273), and double plays (3rd; 72).

He was also an excellent base runner, scoring over 100 runs nine times, and often finishing among the top base stealers. He is one of only 29 players to have played in four different major leagues. His 1,004 career walks put him second in major league history behind Billy Hamilton when he retired, and he also ended his career ranking eighth in career games (1,796). His speed was a great advantage in the outfield, and he was able to play shallow as a result. On June 19, 1889 he set a major league record (which has since been tied twice) by throwing out three runners at home plate in one game, with catcher Connie Mack recording the outs. He and Mack joined the Buffalo Bisons of the Players League in 1890, after which Hoy returned to the AA with the St. Louis Browns under player-manager Charles Comiskey for the league’s final season in 1891, leading the league with 119 walks and scoring a career-high 136 runs (second in the league). He returned to Washington for two years with the Washington Nationals of the National League, and was traded to the Reds in December 1893, where he was reunited with Comiskey. Hoy spent the next four years with that club, hitting over 20 doubles each year and batting over .290 three times; in 1897 he led the NL with 359 putouts. Before the 1898 season he was traded to the Louisville Colonels, where his teammates included Honus Wagner, Fred Clarke and Tommy Leach (who was his roommate), and he hit .304 and .306 in his two seasons with the club; in 1899 he broke Mike Griffin’s major league record of 1459 games in center field. After playing for the Chicago White Sox in the American League during its last minor league season in 1900, where Comiskey was now the team owner, Hoy stayed with the team when the AL achieved major league status in 1901, helping them to the league’s (and his) first pennant; that year he broke Tom Brown’s record of 3623 career outfield putouts, and also led the league with 86 walks and 14 times hit by pitch while finishing fourth in runs (112) and on base percentage (.407). He ended his major league career with the Reds in 1902, batting .290 and breaking Brown’s record of 4461 career total chances in the outfield, and played for Los Angeles in the Pacific Coast League in 1903. In May of his last season with the Reds, he batted against pitcher Dummy Taylor of the New York Giants in the first face off between deaf players in the major leagues; Hoy got two hits. In Hoy’s time, the word “dumb” was used to describe someone who could not speak (as most deaf people at the time could not), rather than someone who was stupid; but since the ability to speak was often unfairly connected to one’s intelligence, the epithets “dumb” and “dummy” became interchangeable with stupidity. Hoy himself often corrected individuals who addressed him as William, and referred to himself as Dummy. Said to have been able to speak with a voice that resembled a squeak, he was actually one of the most intelligent players of his time, and is sometimes credited with developing the hand signals used by umpires to this day, though this view is widely disputed; Cy Rigler is believed to have created signals for balls and strikes while working in the minor leagues, and Bill Klem is credited with introducing those signals to the major leagues. Indeed, no articles printed during Hoy’s lifetime have been found to support the suggestion that he influenced the creation of signals, nor did he ever maintain that he had such a role. In addition, if Hoy could read the lips of an umpire only a few feet away, it is unlikely that he would have needed a manual signal as well. Nonetheless, due to the possibility that he may have played a role in the use of signals, as well as for his all-around play, there is a movement to support his election to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. In retirement, Hoy and his wife Anna Maria (who was also deaf) operated a dairy farm in Mount Healthy, Ohio, outside Cincinnati; among their six children was Carson, an Ohio judge, and their grandson Judson became a member of the Ohio State House of Representatives. They also raised his nephew Paul Hoy Helms, the founder of the Helms Athletic Foundation in Los Angeles. Hoy also worked as an executive with Goodyear after supervising hundreds of deaf workers during World War I. In 1951 he was the first deaf athlete elected to membership in the American Athletic Association of the Deaf Hall of Fame. At the age of 99 and just two months before his death in Cincinnati following a stroke, the Reds brought him back to Crosley Field, built on the site of his former home field, to throw out the first ball before Game 3 of the 1961 World Series. He could see, if not hear, the standing ovation he received. Upon his death that December, his remains were cremated according to family tradition and were scattered at Lytle Park in Cincinnati. Until the 1980s, he was believed to have been the longest-lived former player ever. In 2001 the baseball field at Gallaudet University was named William “Dummy” Hoy Baseball Field. He was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 2003. William Ellsworth “Dummy” Hoy (May 23, 1862 – December 15, 1961) was an American center fielder in Major League Baseball who played for several teams from 1888 to 1902, most notably the Cincinnati Reds and two Washington, D.C. franchises.

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