William Ellsworth “Dummy” Hoy
May 13, 2003 12:57 PM   Subscribe

William Ellsworth “Dummy” Hoy was the first deaf Major League baseball player. He played in four major leagues, hit the first grand slam in the American League, stole 82 bases in his rookie year, and was the first outfielder to throw out three runners at home plate in one game. He's the reason for umpires' hand signals. Gallaudet University dedicated its baseball field to him. There's a campaign to get him inducted in the Hall of Fame (here's his stats.) [via The Baseball Crank]
posted by kirkaracha (7 comments total)
Great links, thank you.
posted by scottymac at 3:02 PM on May 13, 2003

Yeah. Great post! I hadn't heard of this man!
posted by Marquis at 5:42 PM on May 13, 2003

Nor had I; thanks for the link(s). My question is, the first deaf major leaguer? How many have there been? (I'm pretty sure there will never be another one nicknamed 'Dummy.')
posted by LeLiLo at 10:20 PM on May 13, 2003

Uhhh, no, Hoy was not responsible for umpire's hand signals. Here's a few notes from Bill Deane, former senior research associate at the Hall of Fame library:

"It doesn’t hold up to scrutiny," said Deane, whose upcoming book on baseball myths includes a chapter on Hoy. "I don’t question that coaches gave him signals. But there’s nothing that goes beyond his opinion that he influenced umpires."

Two things bother Deane. First, he can’t find any newspaper articles or other documents from Hoy’s playing days that specifically give him credit for umpire hand signals–any such references come after the 1940s. Also, records indicate that hand signals came into play about 1905, three years after Hoy retired.

Deane said the most accurate statement anybody can make is this: Minor-league umpire Cy Rigler started the tradition of raising his right hand on called strikes in 1905, about the same time that Rochester native Klem popularized emphatic arm and hand signals in the majors.

Hoy’s claim also conflicts with a 1909 edition of Spalding’s Official Base Ball Guide, which said umpires adopted signals so fans could follow the game. "I would think that if Hoy had anything to do with it, he would have been mentioned here," Deane said.

(taken from this website)

Baseball is a game rich in myths that need to be put to rest (Ruth's called shot, Buckner causing the Red Sox to lose, Ken Griffey Jr.'s career). Sure Hoy appears to have been a great player, possibly even Hall of Fame worthy. But responsible for hand signals? Not by a longshot.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 4:53 AM on May 14, 2003

Ghost: "Ken Griffey Jr.'s career" Thank you for making my day.

(And don't forget to add to your list of myths: "Montreal fans won't support the team.")

Hoy's stats

Curtis Pride is 95% deaf and played professional baseball from 1993 - 2001.
posted by ?! at 5:19 AM on May 14, 2003

Great post. And there was also Luther "Dummy" Taylor, who won 116 games for the Giants a century ago; there's even a novel about him. (Deaf players were called "Dummy" as routinely as Indians were called "Chief" and players with a screw loose were called "Bugs"; them was incorrect times.)

Oh, and don't forget the biggest myth of all!
posted by languagehat at 8:41 AM on May 14, 2003

Baseball: A Ridiculous Liberal Myth
posted by Captain_Tenille at 11:23 AM on May 14, 2003

« Older When the split hits the fan   |   the new Dr. StrangeLove Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments