A Baker’s Dozen Things You Should Know About Dummy Hoy

Dummy Hoy

Dummy Hoy

1. William Hoy was born in Ohio in 1862.

2. He contracted meningitis at age three. He lost his hearing and his speech. By trade he became a shoemaker. By preference, a ballplayer.

3. After a number of teams turned him down because of his “handicap”, he signed with Oshkosh (Wisconsin) in 1886. He stayed there through 1887.

4. The Washington Nationals (not the current team) signed him in 1888 to play the outfield. By this point the “Dummy” nickname was already attached to him. It’s hard to tell if he liked it or not, but he accepted and tolerated it. By this point he was so well-known by the nickname that he would insist fans call him by it rather than his given name. That season he led the National League in stolen bases.

5. In 1889 playing centerfield he threw out three runners at home in one game. It was a record that has been tied but not broken.

6. In 1890 he joined the Player’s League team in Buffalo. After the failure of the league, he went to St. Louis in the American Association where he led the league in walks.

7. He spent the 1890s playing with Washington, Cincinnati, and Louisville. While with the latter team, he played with Honus Wagner and roomed with Tommy Leach.

8. In 1900 he moved to the Western League (minor league) team in Chicago where he played one season. The next year Ban Johnson renamed the Western League the American League and began competing with the National League as a Major League. Hoy was the White Stockings (now White Sox) original right fielder. The Sox won the pennant. It was Hoy’s only championship.

9. His last big league season was 1902. He was back at Cincinnati in the NL and on 16 May came to bat against Dummy Taylor, the first meeting between the two premier mute players of the era. Hoy got a single.

10. By 1903 he was 41 and at the end of the line. He played for Los Angeles in the Pacific Coast League that season and retired.

11. For his career, his triple slash line is .288/.386/.374/.760 with an OPS+ of 110. He had 2048 hits, scored 1429 runs, had 725 RBIs, 248 doubles, 40 home runs, walked 1006 times, struck out 345, and stole 596 bases (most of them of the pre-1897 variety). His WAR (Baseball Reference.com version) is 32.5.

12. In 1961 he threw out the first pitch in game three of the World Series (in Cincinnati). He was 99 at the time and the oldest living Major League player. He died later that year. The baseball field at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC is named for him.

13. Dummy Hoy is supposed to be the man for whom umpires developed the hand signals for balls and strikes. There is actually no contemporary evidence this is true.


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8 Responses to “A Baker’s Dozen Things You Should Know About Dummy Hoy”

  1. steve Says:

    I never knew about that Oshkosh team. As usual, you got me excited to do some internet searching. Thanks v. It’s so wonderful to hear about a man who had the courage to overlook the deafness and pursue his dream.

  2. William Miller Says:

    Good stuff. Certainly a player who should be recalled fondly for his efforts on the field, and for overcoming his disability.
    Nicely done,

  3. glenrussellslater Says:

    Speaking of Dummy Taylor, V, did you ever hear of this novel? “Havana Heat”? I read it. It’s a novel based on Dummy Taylor. Yeah, I realize that you wrote this about Dummy Hoy, but I thought you might be interested. It was a pretty good book.



  4. glenrussellslater Says:

    Speaking of deaf ballplayers, V, do you remember Curtis Pride, who played in the 90s for several major league teams? He’s deaf. I just looked him up, and he is the head coach at Gaulladet University, the well-known college for deaf students in Washington D.C. I wonder how he would do being the manager of a major league team.

    Anyway, I saw him back around 1987 playing for the Pittsfield Mets (New York-Penn League) at Waconah Park in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. At the time, I was living and working on a farm outside of Pittsfield at the time; this was shortly before I moved to Portland, Maine to work as an announcer at WPOR.

    I was hoping that Pride would have come up with the New York Mets, but he didn’t. He was released and picked up by the Expos.



  5. glenrussellslater Says:

    Pardon. I mispelled Wahconah Park. <<<<<——– THAT'S how Wahconah is spelled.


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