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Deaf Topics:  "Dummy Hoy and Dummy Taylor."


By Sarah McCluskey

Dummy Hoy and Dummy Taylor


Today, the word "dummy" is considered offensive and is used with the intent to insult someone. In the past, however it was common for people to use the word "dummy" to simply mean that a person was silent or mute.

There have been a number of Deaf athletes that were nicknamed "Dummy."

One famous Deaf athlete was William "Dummy" Hoy. His real name was William Ellsworth Hoy. He accepted the nickname "Dummy," correcting people who called him William. He was a major league baseball player in the 19th century. His career started in 1888, playing as a center fielder. It is important for the outfielders, second baseman, and shortstop to communicate with each other. They don't use hand signals though because they are watching for the ball. Only William calls for the ball if he has it because he can't hear the others. If the other outfielders and infielders heard William's squeaky sound, they knew it meant that William "had it." He posted a statement on the clubhouse wall saying, "Being totally Deaf as you know and some of my teammates being unacquainted with my play, I think it is timely to bring about an understanding between myself, the left fielder, the shortstop and the second baseman and the right fielder. The main point is to avoid possible collisions with any of these four who surround me when in the field going for a fly ball. Whenever I take a fly ball I always yell I'll take it--the same as I have been doing for many seasons and of course the other fielders let me take it. Whenever you don't hear me yell, it is understood I am not after the ball, and they govern themselves accordingly."

His best years were in Cincinnati as a Red from 1894-1897 and 1902*. During his 14-year career, he played for seven teams from both leagues. He died at the age of 99 in 1961. He threw the ceremonial first pitch before game 3 of the World Series between the Yankees and the Reds. In his last year as a Red in the majors, he batted against another Deaf player who was a pitcher for the Giants. The pitcher's name was Luther Haden "Dummy" Taylor.

Luther Taylor's career lasted nine seasons. He wanted to be a boxer but his parents said no so he started playing baseball. His career in the majors started in 1900 when he received a call up to the New York Giants to finish the rest of the season. In 1902, he started his season with the Cleveland Bronchos. He wasn't happy to be in Cleveland because he felt left out. Players didn't learn sign language and were uncommunicative. The Giants owner sent their catcher, Frank Bowerman, to get Luther back. He would sit in the grandstand and every time Luther walked to the pitching mound and back to the bench, he would talk with his fingers. Luther shook his head as Frank raised the money. Finally, Luther nodded his head and left Cleveland. Before he did, an umpire named Napoleon Lajoie, said Luther was the only Deaf mute to ever be tossed out of a game for talking back to an umpire. His Deafness didn't stop him from arguing or talking back. He could read other team's signs because of his eyesight and read a base runner's intentions by studying his facial expressions. One time, Taylor had thrown out five guys who had attempted to steal third. The last guy he caught, he went over to him and signed that he could hear them stealing. When he coached first base, he was making a spinning motion, indicating that the umpire, Hank O'Day had wheels in his head. O'Day got even, spelling, "You go to the clubhouse. Pay $25." O'Day happened to know sign language, being raised by a Deaf parent and other relatives. After his playing days, he became an umpire from 1915 to 1938. Those who loved to ride umpires were lucky because Taylor couldn't hear them. In 1933, he began working for the Illinois School for the Deaf in Jacksonville. He was a coach, teacher, and housefather for the school until 1949. He died at the age of 82 in 1958.

It is not really surprising that there are Deaf athletes in the world. They use hand signals to communicate with the Hearing people around them, (such as coaches and teammates). They work hard and practice just as their Hearing teammates do. The achievements of Deaf athletes are inspiring because they show others, Hearing and Deaf alike, that it is possible to overcome physical challenges in order to pursue that which they are passionate about doing.

Works Cited:

Hannah. "The Open Book." The Open Book. Lee & Low Books, 16 Aug. 2012. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. <>.

Berger, Ralph. "SABR." Dummy Hoy. SABR, 2012. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. <>.

Anderson, David. "SABR." Dummy Taylor. SABR, 2012. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. <>.

* Editor's note:
Appreciation to: Steve Sandy (Hoy Researcher) for supplying the information that "Dummy Hoy's years with the Reds were from 1894-1897 and 1902."

Also see: "Dummy Hoy"
Also see: "Dummy Hoy & Dummy Taylor"
Also see: "Baseball"
Also see: "Baseball and ASL"

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