Until now, I’ve never asked readers to sign a petition, but this one really hits home with me and thousands of other baseball enthusiasts. In short, William Ellsworth “Dummy” Hoy should be in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
He was deaf and a speedy outfielder who made important contributions to the game of baseball while playing for the Washington Nationals, Louisville Colonels, Chicago White Sox, and Cincinnati Reds from 1888-1902. In that era, most deaf athletes had the nickname “Dummy.”
He shares the major league record for the most times throwing out a runner at home in a game (three) and he hit the second grand slam in American League history. He had 1,004 career walks, about 600 steals, a .288 career batting average and 2,054 base hits. Hoy led both leagues in walks once, and led once in at bats and steals.
In 1901, he was on the Chicago White Sox team winning the first American League pennant and in 2003 was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame. Above all, he made a major contribution to the sport itself by being the person responsible for umpires beginning to use hand signals to indicate balls, strikes, and outs.
“Wahoo” Sam Crawford, 1957 Hall of Fame inductee and 1902 Hoy teammate, was quoted in the book “The Glory of Their Times” as saying, “Did you know (Hoy) was the one responsible for the umpire giving hand signals for a ball or strike?…He’d be up at bat and he couldn’t hear and he couldn’t talk….That’s where the hand signs for the umpires calling balls and strikes began. That’s a fact. Very few people know that.”
Helping lead the charge for Hoy’s induction is Gary Kaschak of Cedarbrook, New Jersey. In a telephone interview, Kaschak said, “The (11-member Hall of Fame) Overview Committee will make the decision this fall on who gets on the Veterans Committee ballot, and the Veterans committee will then decide who gets in (the Hall of Fame). We first want Hoy on the Overview Committee ballot, and once there, it’s our job to turn our attention to the Veterans Committee.”
To sign an online petition destined for the Overview Committee, type “Dummy Hoy Casper petition” into Google. Next week, read the heart-warming story of the deaf Little Leaguer sparking the recent surge in enthusiasm for Hoy’s induction.