Dummy is no Dummy

by Patricia Robles


(Imperial, CA, USA)

My favorite person from Deaf History is William “Dummy” Hoy.

William “Dummy” Hoy lived from 1862 to 1961 (almost 100 years!). He was born hearing, but became deaf at age 3 due to meningitis. He was a great athlete and played baseball, making it all the way to the Major Leagues! During his 15 years in the Major Leagues, he broke so many baseball records. He has the longest Major League Baseball career of any Deaf person. Additionally, he is the 2nd longest-living MLB player in history.

I grew up in a sports family, meaning my dad played baseball while I was a baby and child, and my brother played baseball while I was a child and teenager. All of my children have at one point played baseball, softball, basketball, and mostly soccer. During the years that my son played baseball, I would sometimes volunteer as official scorekeeper. This meant I had to play very close attention to every single part of the game. It always fascinated me how the catchers would communicate to the pitchers with signs, since they cannot communicate verbally during play.

Little did I know that a Deaf Major League Baseball player, yes, Dummy Hoy, had a huge impact on that enormous part of baseball! He is also credited for the umpire signs used in baseball, such as “out” and “safe.” These signs are used worldwide in the major leagues, in college/school baseball, in little leagues, in softball, etc. This is an important piece of history that I did not know and when I learned about Dummy, it made me happy to know that a Deaf MLB player did all this. Just look at the impact he made in the world of sports!

References:
deafpeople.com/history/history_info/ellsworth.html
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dummy_Hoy