I guess every year you’ll just have to get used to reading about William Elsworth “Dummy” Hoy, a deaf professional baseball player from 1888-1902.
I’ve written more on him than anyone over the last decade: first, because he should be in the National Baseball Hall of Fame; he means as much to deaf people as Jackie Robinson does to African Americans; and lastly, because I’m a baseball fan.
A group of Hoy enthusiasts has been trying for years to get Hoy into the Hall. The greatest, Steve Sandy, helped facilitate Hoy’s induction into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame, and has been pushing for a “Hoy” USPS commemorative stamp. Other Hoy enthusiasts include David Risotto, Rex Bishop, Don Casper, and Gary Kaschak. The five have been working separately and as a team on various projects.
A center fielder with more than 600 stolen bases, 2,000 hits, and a rocket arm, Hoy played in an era in which every deaf baseball player had the nickname “Dummy.” He embraced the moniker.
He probably was responsible for umpires developing ball and strike hand signals, and coached in the minor leagues. He still shares the major league record for runners thrown out at home in one inning (three), and has been inducted already into at least four halls of fame.
What will it take for Hoy to make the Hall of Fame? Kaschak, for one, has been in contact with the Overview Committee, the group gathering names for the ballot. He has succeeded over the last couple years in terms of getting committee members to read his proposal, but Hoy’s stats alone apparently haven’t been quite good enough.
To make the Hall another way, boosters likely will promote Hoy for the next Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award, through which the Hall honors people who “enhanced baseball’s positive impact on society, broadened the game’s appeal, and whose character, integrity and dignity are comparable to the qualities exhibited by (Negro League legend) O’Neil.”
Separate from the above efforts, Risotto and Sandy have approached actor Billy Crystal about involvement in a film featuring Hoy, “The Silent Natural.”
In a telephone interview, Kaschak said, “For Hoy to get in, it will take someone (at the National Baseball Hall of Fame) to recognize the efforts put forth for decades, that (having Hoy inducted) is as important to Deaf people as Jackie Robinson’s (induction) was to the black community.”