Going to Bat for Dummy Hoy

In July of 2011, my oldest son Darren (age 12) had the opportunity of a lifetime: A week-long baseball tournament at Cooperstown Dreams Park. Along with his teammates, the 12U Montgomery Wolverines travel team, Darren had a wonderful experience he'll never forget.

At the same time, neither Darren nor I could ignore the irony: He was playing on a field not far from the Cooperstown Hall of Fame. Any deaf baseball fanatic will tell you that the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown is where William Ellsworth "Dummy" Hoy deserves to be enshrined. Darren and I are no different.

Prior to the tournament, Darren had "Dummy" written on the back of one of his cleats and "Hoy" on the other. He dedicated the tournament to Dummy and vowed to play the game in a manner that would make him proud.

Sure enough, one of the hits Darren had was a RBI bunt single where he was safe by a step and promptly took second base when the first baseman threw home. After dusting himself off, Darren gave the "thumbs up" from second base and pointed at his shoes.

Of all the baseball games I've been to, I don't think anything gave me goosebumps more than that.

As mentioned in a previous post, Darren wrote a letter on behalf of Dummy Hoy and was determined to hand it in at the Hall of Fame in person. He was graciously received by the Hall of Fame staff and later had a private meeting with Brad Horn, the Senior Director of Communications and Education. Darren came out of that meeting with a great appreciation for baseball history and an understanding of how hard it is to get inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Darren's letter will be presented to the Historical Overview Committee that will nominate 10 candidates for the Pre-Integration Era Ballot. Hopefully, Hoy will wind up on the ballot and eventually get inducted.

In the meantime, Darren has agreed to let me post the contents of his letter on Deaf Culture Online. Scroll down below and enjoy.

Way to go, kid. I'm proud of you.

Have you ever heard of Dummy Hoy? He was the first deaf baseball player to have a long career in the pros. Today, I seriously think that Dummy Hoy is supposed to be in the Hall of Fame. Here are some reasons why Hoy should be in the Hall of Fame.

Dummy’s real name is William. Back then, “dumb” or “Dummy” meant someone who cannot speak. Even if he was deaf, he wouldn’t let people ruin his dream to be a baseball player. Anyway, one of the most interesting things about Dummy was that he couldn’t understand the ump. During his first season, he hit .219 because he was confused after every pitch. So what he did the next year was, he told the 3rd base coach to give him signals. When the 3rd base coach raised his right arm, it meant strike, and left arm meant ball. That year, Dummy understood every pitch and he hit .367. Speaking of batting, he played 1,797 games with a total of 7,115 at bats, 1,429 runs, 2,048 hits, and 596 stolen bases. Dummy Hoy was one amazing baseball player.

On defense, he made tremendous plays at centerfield. His speed and arm was just like a pistol. One time he threw out three runners at home plate in one game. His speed was very unique and he was one of those I-can-fly people. Every time when Hoy made a brilliant catch, the crowd waved their hands because Dummy couldn’t hear them clap. Dummy had 3965 putouts and 276 assists in his career.

Dummy Hoy should be in the Hall of Fame. Right now, he’s in the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame. I’d like to see him in the Cooperstown Hall of Fame but am not sure if the committee will say yes or no. Wouldn’t it be wrong to not let him be in the Hall of Fame? I believe that Dummy Hoy is a deaf hero.

Also, I have a story about myself when I played baseball. Sometimes I compare myself to Dummy because I went through the same thing. I started playing baseball when I was 2. Then when I was 6 I started going deaf. I wouldn’t let that destroy my dream to play baseball. I love baseball and have played many years. Right now I’m on a travel team. I’ve been on the Montgomery Wolverines for 2 years and this is my 3rd year. I believe Dummy made a big difference when he played because I see the same things when I play. When I get a hit and am on first base, the first base coach and the third base coach move around so I can see them better. My dad calls this “The Darren Shift.” Also they help make sure I know the count if the umpire is not clear. But it was Dummy who started it and he played many years in the pros.

Baseball is the greatest sport I’ve ever played and it fits me. It would be awesome to have Dummy Hoy in the Hall of Fame. So what do you think? Please let William “Dummy” Hoy in the Hall of Fame. Many deaf people are rooting for him to get in. He’s like our Jackie Robinson. If you do let him in the Hall of Fame, you would be my hero. To some people, baseball is just a game, but to me, it is life.

Darren Drolsbaugh (Age 12)