William Dummy Hoy: Professional American Baseball Player


English translation: Sara Gómez Herrero

William Hoy was a Major League professional baseball player in the United States of America. He lived 99 years, from 1862 to 1961, so that he was one of the longest-live professional American baseball players in the history. He was known as ‘Dummy’ because he turned deaf when he was three years old due to meningitis (at that time, dummy was a vulgar manner to call people who were deaf).

Dummy Hoy went down in history not only due to his impressive statistics and achievements in Baseball (he played 1792 games, scored more than 2000 hits and 1400 races), but also because he is credited with using the famous signals used by hitters. After all, Dummy Hoy usually used sign language to communicate.

Deaf Professional Baseball Player Dummy Hoy
Dummy Hoy (photo: Public Domain, by Goodwin & Co, vía Wikicommons)

Some people affirm that Dummy Hoy introduced the use of those signals that were specially used by the referees in Baseball, because he needed it due to his deafness, which is certified by references in sports press in 1888. Although the use of signals started in 1869, it seems that almost anybody doubts about how important Dummy Hoy’s influence was for its extension.

Caricature of former Braves coach Bobby Dews (photo: gtalumni.org)

In 2007 a forty minutes documentary film named I See The Crowd Roar: The Story of William Dummy Hoy was filmed. Here you have the trailer (with subtitles in English and ASL).


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