Dummy Hoy

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.

Hoy 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.[1][2][3] 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 baserunner, 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 played (1,796).

William Hoy
Dummy Hoy
Center fielder
Born: May 23, 1862
Houcktown, Ohio, United States
Died: December 15, 1961 (aged 99)
Cincinnati, Ohio
Batted: Left Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 20, 1888, for the Washington Nationals
Last MLB appearance
July 17, 1902, for the Cincinnati Reds
MLB statistics
Batting average.288
Runs batted in725
Stolen bases607
Career highlights and awards


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 National League, Hoy became the third deaf player in the Major Leagues, after pitcher Ed Dundon and pitcher Tom Lynch. In his rookie year he led the league in stolen bases (although the statistic was defined differently prior to 1898),[4] 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 a .386 career on-base percentage.

Hoy's 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 Senators of the National League, and was traded to the Reds in December 1893, where he was reunited with Comiskey.

Dummy Hoy baseball card
Baseball card of Hoy

Hoy later joined 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 faceoff between deaf players in the Major Leagues; Hoy got two hits.

Hoy retired with a .287 batting average, 2044 hits, 1426 runs, 726 runs batted in, 248 doubles, 121 triples and 40 home runs. He had 487 stolen bases from 1888 through 1897, and 107 more after the statistic was redefined to its present meaning in 1898. His 1795 games in the outfield ranked second to Jimmy Ryan (then at 1829) in Major League history. Jesse Burkett broke his Major League record for career putouts in 1905, and Clarke topped his record for career total chances in 1909. His record for career games in center field was broken by Tris Speaker in 1920.

Personal life

In Hoy's time, the word "dumb" was used to describe someone who could not speak, 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,[Buffalo Morning Express, April 13, 1890, p.14] 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 (although, in the November 6, 1886 issue of The Sporting News, the deaf pitcher Ed Dundon is credited as using hand signals while umpiring a game in Mobile, Alabama on October 20 of that year), and Bill Klem is credited with introducing those signals to the Major Leagues, in the early 20th century. 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. 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.[5]

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 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.[6] 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.


Upon his death in 1961 at the age of 99, Hoy was the longest-lived former MLB player ever. (In 1973, Ralph Miller broke Hoy's "record" by becoming the first ex-major leaguer to reach the age of 100. Altogether, 13 former big league ballplayers have become centenarians, the oldest being Chet Hoff, who was 107 when he died in 1998.)

At the time of his death, Dummy Hoy was the last surviving participant of both the American Association and the Players' League.

In 2001 the baseball field at Gallaudet University was named the William "Dummy" Hoy Baseball Field. He was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 2003.

The William "Dummy" Hoy Classic is a baseball game held every two years during Rochester (New York) Deaf Awareness Week; it is contested between members of the Rochester Recreation Club of the Deaf and the Buffalo (New York) Club of the Deaf, at a recreated 19th-century ballpark at Genesee Country Village and Museum.[7]

In 2008, the Documentary Channel aired the biography Dummy Hoy: A Deaf Hero (aka: I See the Crowd Roar). The documentary, using photographs of Hoy and actors to recreate certain events, chronicled the highlights of Hoy's life and his contributions to baseball; Hoy was portrayed by Ryan Lane.[8]

The William Hoy Story: How a Deaf Baseball Player Changed the Game, a children's picture book by Nancy Churnin, was published in 2016.[9] "Silent Star: The Story of Deaf Major Leaguer William Hoy: by Bill Wise was published in 2012


  1. ^ Sandy and Miller, p. 48.
  2. ^ Gould, pp 127–9 refutes this.
  3. ^ Gannon, Jack. 1981. Deaf Heritage–A Narrative History of Deaf America, Silver Spring, Maryland: National Association of the Deaf, pp. 291–295 (PDF Archived 2012-04-24 at the Wayback Machine)(PDF Archived 2012-04-24 at the Wayback Machine)
  4. ^ Sandy and Miller, p. 50.
  5. ^ Sandy and Miller, p. 49.
  6. ^ Sandy and Miller, p. 53.
  7. ^ Memmott, Jim (September 19, 2012). "Playing a game to honor a baseball legend". Democrat and Chronicle. Rochester, New York. Gannett Company. pp. 1B, 4B. Archived from the original on September 20, 2012. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
  8. ^ Rich Davis (19 October 2008). "Crew films documentary on 19th century deaf baseball player 'Dummy' Hoy". Evansville Courier & Press.
  9. ^ https://www.albertwhitman.com/book/the-william-hoy-story/


  • Sandy, Steve; Miller, Richard. "No Dummy: William Ellsworth Hoy." Timeline, March–April 2000, pp. 48–53.
  • Gould, Stephen Jay (2003). "The Amazing Dummy". Triumph and Tragedy in Mudville. New York: W.W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-32557-1.

External links

Preceded by
John Leighton
Oldest recognized verified living baseball player
October 31, 1956 – December 15, 1961
Succeeded by
Buster Burrell
1888 Washington Nationals season

The 1888 Washington Nationals finished with a 48–86 record in the National League, finishing in last place.

1890 Buffalo Bisons season

The 1890 Buffalo Bisons baseball team was a member of the short lived Players' League, and an "outlaw" franchise that used the name of the existing minor league Buffalo Bisons without permission. They compiled a 36–96 record, which landed them in last place, 46½ games behind the pennant-winning Boston Reds and 20 games behind the seventh-place Cleveland Infants in the eight-team league. After the season, the league folded, as did the team.

1891 St. Louis Browns season

The 1891 St. Louis Browns season was the team's tenth season in St. Louis, Missouri and the tenth season in the American Association. The Browns went 85–51 during the season and finished second in the American Association.

This was the Browns final season in the American Association. The league folded after the season, and the Browns moved to the National League where they remain today as the St. Louis Cardinals.

1894 Cincinnati Reds season

The 1894 Cincinnati Reds season was a season in American baseball. The team finished in tenth place in the National League with a record of 55–75, 35 games behind the Baltimore Orioles.

1895 Cincinnati Reds season

The 1895 Cincinnati Reds season was a season in American baseball. The Reds finished in eighth place in the National League with 66 wins and 64 losses, 21 games behind the Baltimore Orioles.

1896 Cincinnati Reds season

The 1896 Cincinnati Reds season was a season in American baseball. The team finished in third place in the National League with a record of 77–50, 12 games behind the Baltimore Orioles.

1901 Chicago White Stockings season

The 1901 Chicago White Stockings season was their first season as a major league team, and their second season in Chicago. It was also the inaugural season of American League as a major league.

The White Stockings had a very balanced lineup, which was led by outfielders Dummy Hoy and Fielder Jones, and scored the most runs in the AL. They relied primarily on speed, as Frank Isbell, Sam Mertes, and Jones finished 1–2–3 in stolen bases. The pitching staff was anchored by Clark Griffith, who went 24–7 with a 2.67 ERA.

The White Stockings finished 83–53. They won the pennant by four games.

Buffalo Bisons (1890) all-time roster

The Buffalo Bisons were a Major League Baseball franchise based in Buffalo, New York. The team existed for one season, 1890, and played in the Players' League. The Bisons played their home games at Olympic Park. Hall of Famer Connie Mack was part owner and catcher for the Bisons.

In their only year as a major league franchise, the Bisons finished the 1890 season with a 36-96 record, last place in the PL. Jack Rowe managed the majority of the teams games, with 99 games, and Jay Faatz managed 33 games. Dummy Hoy led Buffalo with a .298 batting average, and both Bert Cunningham and George Haddock led the team with 9 wins.

Buffalo Bisons (PL)

The Buffalo Bisons of 1890 were a member of the short-lived Players' League. This baseball team was managed by Jack Rowe and Jay Faatz, and they finished eighth (last) with a record of 36-96 while playing their home games at Olympic Park. Hall of Famer Connie Mack was a part-owner of the franchise, having invested his life savings of $500 in the team, none of which he ever recouped.

In addition to owning part of the team, Mack also played catcher, batting .266 in 123 games with the league. Famed deaf player Dummy Hoy played for the 1890 Bisons, as did two players who appeared in the previous NL incarnation of the Bisons, Jack Rowe and Deacon White.

The PL Bisons were an "outlaw" franchise that played concurrently with the minor league Buffalo Bisons and apparently used the stock Bisons name without the permission of the established club; the Players' League club also acquired the lease to Olympic Park for the seasons, forcing the "legitimate" Bisons to play elsewhere. They settled on the amateur Buffalo Baseball League's grounds near East Genesee Street and the Belt Line Railroad. They moved back to Olympic Park after the Players' League folded. The current Bisons franchise does not recognize the PL Bisons as part of their history.

Dummy (nickname)

Dummy was a nickname often used by deaf athletes.

Dummy may refer to:

Dummy Deegan (1874–1957) a pitcher for two games

Ed Dundon (1859–1893), an American Association pitcher credited with being the first deaf player in Major League Baseball history

Dummy Hoy (1862–1961), a deaf center fielder

Dummy Lebey (1896–1959), American college football player

Dummy Leitner (1871–1960), a deaf pitcher

Dummy Lynch (1926–1978), a second baseman

Dummy Murphy (1886–1962), a shortstop

Dummy Stephenson (1869–1924), an outfielder

Dummy Taylor (1875–1958), a deaf-mute pitcher

Dummy Taylor

Luther Haden "Dummy" Taylor (February 21, 1875 – August 22, 1958) was a deaf American right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball from 1900 to 1908. He played for the New York Giants and Cleveland Bronchos and was one of the key pitchers on the Giants' National League championship teams of 1904 and 1905.

In 1901, his first full season in the major leagues, Taylor led the National League by pitching in 45 games and ranked second in the league with 37 complete games. In 1904, he won 21 games for the Giants, and in 1906 his 2.20 ERA was the lowest on a pitching staff that included Baseball Hall of Famers Christy Mathewson (2.97 ERA), and "Iron Man" Joe McGinnity (2.25 ERA).

Taylor was the only successful deaf pitcher in Major League Baseball and was regarded, along with Dummy Hoy, as a role model and hero in the American deaf community in the early 20th century. In the 1900s, Taylor was reported to be the highest paid deaf person in the United States. He was also known as the comedian of the Giants teams, waving a lit lantern when an umpire refused to call a game due to darkness and coaching at third base in rubber boots when an umpire refused to call a game due to rain.

In 2000, author Darryl Brock wrote the historical novel Havana Heat about Taylor's experience in professional baseball. The book won the Dave Moore Award in 2000 as the "most important baseball book" published that year.

Houcktown, Ohio

Houcktown is an unincorporated community in Hancock County, in the U.S. state of Ohio.

Hoy (surname)

Hoy (Irish: Ó hEochaidh) is an Irish surname. Other surnames developed from "Ó hEochaidh" include: McKeogh, Kehoe, Hoey, Haughey, Haugh and Hough. Hoy is sometimes considered to be a variant of Haughey, and it is very common in Ulster. The first recording of the surname in Ireland is of one Elizabeth, daughter of Leuise and Martha Hoy, on February 8, 1646 at Holy Trinity (Christchurch), Cork.

People named Hoy include:

Agnete Hoy (1914–2000), English potter

Aine Hoy (born 1987), British water polo player

Alexandra Hoy, Canadian jurist

Andrew Hoy (born 1959), Australian equestrian

Bettina Hoy (born 1962), German equestrian

Bobby Hoy (born 1950), English former footballer

Campbell Hoy (1893–1985), British flying ace

Chris Hoy (born 1976), Scottish track cyclist

Charles M. Hoy (1897–1923) an American museum collector, active in Australia and China

Col Hoy, Australian cricket umpire

Cyrus Hoy (1926–2010), American English scholar

Dummy Hoy (1862–1961), American Major League Baseball player

Elizabeth Hoy, Irish author

Ernest Charles Hoy (1895-1982), Canadian First World War flying ace and aviation pioneer

Frank Hoy (1934–2005), Irish-born Scottish professional wrestler

James Barlow Hoy (1794-1843), Irish-born politician

James Hoy, Baron Hoy (1909-1976), Scottish politician

Jen Hoy (born 1991), American soccer player

Garry Hoy, Canadian lawyer

Henry Hoy (1855–1910) British locomotive engineer

Linda Hoy, British children's author

Marie Hoy, Australian musician

Marjorie Hoy (born 1941), American entomologist and geneticist

Mick Hoy (musician), Irish musician

Mick Hoy (footballer), Irish footballer

Pat Hoy (born 1950), Canadian politician

Peter Hoy (born 1966), Canadian baseball player

Phil Hoy (politician) (born 1937), American politician

Phil Hoy (rugby union) (born 1987), English rugby union player

Renate Hoy (born 1930), German actress

Roger Hoy (born 1946), English footballer

Robert Hoy (1927–2010), American actor

Ron Hoy (born 1932), Australian rules footballer

Sadie Hoy (born 1982), Canadian Actor

Sean Hoy (born 1964), Irish diplomat

Shirley Hoy, Canadian bureaucrat

Thomas Hoy (poet) (1659-1718), English poet and physician

Thomas Hoy (botanist) (c. 1750-1822)

Tom Hoy (born 1950), Musician (Natural Acoustic Band - Magna Carta)

Will Hoy (1952-2002), British racing driver

William Hoy (born 1955), American film editor

Leadoff hitter

In baseball, a leadoff hitter is a batter who bats first in the lineup. It can also refer to any batter who bats first in an inning.

List of Major League Baseball career fielding errors as an outfielder leaders

In baseball statistics, an error is an act, in the judgment of the official scorer, of a fielder misplaying a ball in a manner that allows a batter or baserunner to advance one or more bases or allows an at bat to continue after the batter should have been put out.

An outfielder is a person playing in one of the three defensive positions in baseball, farthest from the batter. These defenders are the left fielder, the center fielder, and the right fielder. An outfielder's duty is to try to catch long fly balls before they hit the ground or to quickly catch or retrieve and return to the infield any other balls entering the outfield. Outfielders normally play behind the six other members of the defense who play in or near the infield. By convention, each of the nine defensive positions in baseball is numbered. The outfield positions are 7 (left field), 8 (center field) and 9 (right field). These numbers are shorthand designations useful in baseball scorekeeping and are not necessarily the same as the squad numbers worn on player uniforms.

Tom Brown is the all-time leader in errors committed by an outfielder with 492 career. Brown is the only outfielder to commit more than 400 career errors. Dummy Hoy (394), Paul Hines (385), Jesse Burkett (383), George Gore (368), Jimmy Ryan (366), George Van Haltren (358), and Ned Hanlon (350) are the only other outfielders to commit more than 300 career errors.

List of Major League Baseball stolen base records

Stolen bases were not officially noted in a baseball game's summary until 1886, and it was not until 1888 that it officially earned a place in the box score. The modern rule for stolen bases was adopted in 1898. While some sources do not include stolen base records before 1898 because they are difficult to compare to the era after 1898, as the sourcing on the below list indicates, Major League Baseball continues to recognize them.

Source: Notes:

Historical totals reported by other sources may vary—for example, Baseball-Reference.com ranks Arlie Latham ahead of Eddie Collins, with totals of 742 and 741, respectively.

As of the 2019 MLB season, only one currently active player, Rajai Davis, has more than 400.

Paul Helms

Paul Hoy Helms (September 19, 1889 – January 5, 1957) was an American executive in the baking industry and sports philanthropist. He founded the Helms Bakery in 1931 and the Helms Athletic Foundation with Bill Schroeder in 1936.

Ryan Lane

Ryan Thomas Lane (born November 23, 1987) is an American actor. Beginning his professional career at the age of nineteen, Lane is best known for his portrayal of Cincinnati Reds center-fielder William Ellsworth Hoy in the Documentary Channel biography Dummy Hoy: A Deaf Hero, and for his recurring role as Travis on the ABC Family drama series Switched at Birth, which earned him the RJ Mitte Diversity Award at the 2013 Media Access Awards.

Washington Nationals (1886–1889)

The Washington Nationals, sometimes referred to as the Washington Statesmen or Senators, were a professional baseball team in the mid to late 1880s. They existed for a period of four years as a member of the National League (NL) from 1886 to 1889. During their four-year tenure they had six different managers and compiled a record of 163-337, for a .326 winning percentage. The franchise played their home games at Swampoodle Grounds, otherwise known as Capitol Park (II).

Their most notable player was catcher Connie Mack, who went on to a Hall of Fame career as manager of the American League Philadelphia Athletics from 1901 to 1950. Outfielder Dummy Hoy, notable for being deaf, played for the 1888 and 1889 Washington teams. Jim Donnelly also spent time with the Nationals.


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