It was on this day (May 23) in 1862 that William Ellsworth Hoy
was born. "Dummy" Hoy played in the major leagues for 7 seasons, mostly for the Cincinnati Reds
. Hoy lost his hearing as a child due to meningitis. He graduated from the Ohio State School for the Deaf as class valedictorian. He signed his first professional contract in 1886 and made the Major Leagues
in 1888 where he played until 1902, Only five feet four inches, Hoy had a small strike zone. The first deaf player in the majors, Hoy had a .287 career batting average and more than 2,000 hits. An excellent base stealer, he swiped 549 bases. A standout center fielder, Hoy set a record in 1889 by throwing out three runners at home plate in a single game. He became a member of the Cincinnati Reds
' Hall of Fame in 2003. Because he couldn't hear the umpire calling the balls and strikes, Hoy is often credited with creating the hand signals that umps still use. However, a deaf pitcher named Ed "Dummy" Dundon used hand signals as early as 1883-84 and later in a game that he umpired in 1886. Also, early accounts of baseball signs do not credit Hoy with originating their use. However, he probably played a role in spreading their use because of his long career as a standout player. Hoy could read lips, but also used sign language, which he taught his teammates. He preferred the name Dummy and even corrected people who called him by his given name, William. He throw out the first pitch at the 1961 World Series between the New York Yankees
and the Cincinnati Reds
and died a few months later at the age of 99. In 2012 a play based on his life was performed in Oregon at the Pentacle. The Signal Season of Dummy Hoy
was written by Allen Meyer and Michael Nowak a quarter of a century ago for Meyer’s deaf daughter.