William “Dummy” Hoy
At least once annually, I offer my best “pitch” for the late, rocket-armed, speedy William “Dummy” Hoy and for his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. He hasn’t been chosen yet. Repeatedly passed over by the Hall of Fame, Hoy had the character and his resume has the credentials. His exclusion has been a blot on baseball.
After a record-setting major league career from 1888-1902, Hoy went on to become America’s greatest professional baseball player all-time with a disability. (People in his day used the moniker “Dummy” for all deaf players. It wasn’t a put-down.) What keeps him excluded from the Hall has been a complete mystery to many people with disabilities, who see him as a role model and their champion.
Hoy was one of 29 players to earn a paycheck in four different major leagues, playing for the Washington Nationals, Louisville Colonels, Chicago White Sox, and Cincinnati Reds. A center fielder, he played alongside Hall of Famers Honus Wagner, Charles Comiskey, and Connie Mack, and starred for the 1901 American League champion Chicago White Sox. The Cincinnati Reds inducted him into their Hall of Fame in 2003.
After the Cincinnati Reds chose him to throw out the first pitch in Game 3 of the 1961 World Series, he passed away just two months later at age 99 as the oldest former player in major league history. Most baseball historians credit him, in the least, with popularizing umpire hand signals for outs, balls, and strikes.
When ending his career with the Cincinnati Reds in 1902, he held major league records in center field games played, career put-outs, and chances, was second all-time (for all players) in walks, with 1,004, and was third in outfield double plays, with 72. He had nearly 600 steals, a .288 career batting average, 2,054 hits, and scored over 100 runs nine times. He blasted the second grand slam in American League history. In 1951, the American Athletic Association of the Deaf Hall of Fame chose him as its first inductee and in 2001 Gallaudet University renamed its baseball field after Hoy.
Many people with disabilities view William “Dummy” Hoy through the same lens as many African-Americans view Jackie Robinson-as a societal ground breaker and champion. For the record, Hoy retired from the major leagues with more at bats, games played, hits, runs scored, triples, walks, and steals than Hall of Famer Robinson.