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William Ellsworth Hoy

"Dummy Hoy"

The Father of Baseball Sign Language



Born - May 23,1862

Houckstown, Hancock County, Ohio

Occupations - Shoemaker, Farmer (Milking Cows),

Major League Baseball Player, Farmer

Married - October 26, 1898

Marriage  took place at the Children' Home

in Cincinnati, Ohio, Where Anna Grew Up

Died - December 15, 1961

Cincinnati, Ohio

Burial - His body was cremated and his ashes were scattered in Lytle Park located on Fourth Street in Cincinnati.



Wife -Anna Maria (Lowery) Hoy

Born - May 11,1876

Cincinnati, Ohio

Died - September 24, 1951

Cincinnati, Ohio

Adopted Father - John Lowery Jr.

Born - November 26, 1850

Adopted Mother - Katherine (Eagen) Lowery

Born - April 7, 1849 - Ireland

Grandfather - John Lowery Sr.

Born - 1800 - Scotland 



 Son - Carson Hoy

Born - December 28, 1902 

Born - Hamilton County, Ohio 

Marriage - October 25, 1922

Erlanger, Kentucky

Died - May 31, 1966

Jewish Hospital, Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio

Wife - Dorothy (Peters) Hoy

To This Union 5 Children Were Born 


Daughter - Carmen Hoy

Born - January 26, 1907

Hamilton County, Ohio

April 3, 1939

Somerville, New Jersey

Husband - Donald Morris

To This Union a Daughter Was Born


Daughter - Clover (Hoy) Skaggs

Born - November 13,1909 - per Ohio Death Records

Alternate Date of Birth - February 6, 1910

Hamilton County, Ohio 

Died - November 15, 1989 - Nevada

Husband - Marshall Skaggs

To This Union 3 Children Were Born


Son - Custer Hoy

Born -February 16, 1911

Mt. Healthy, Ohio

Died - February 18, 1911

Mt. Healthy, Ohio


Son - Cosmos Hoy

Born/Died  - August 13, 1912

Mt. Healthy, Ohio


Daughter - Castle Hoy

Born - April 15, 1916

Mt. Healthy, Ohio

Died - May 31, 1916

Cause - Spanish Influenza



Brother - Lyman Franklin Hoy

Born - September 27, 1853

Jackson Township, Hancock County, Ohio

Wife - Ella (Treece) Hoy


Brother - John Freeman Hoy

Born - December 11,1855

Jackson Township, Hancock County, Ohio

First Wife - Malissie E. (Hays) Hoy

2nd Wife - Eliza Samaria (Miller) Hoy


Brother - Smith Hoffman Hoy

Born - August 1858 /1859

Jackson Township, Hancock County, Ohio

Wife - Saloma Ellen (Ella) Hoy - 1863


Sister - Ora Ella (Hoy) Helms

Born - June 24, 1866

Jackson Township, Hancock County, Ohio

Husband - Rev. Elmer Ellsworth Helms



Father - Jacob Hoy

Mother - Rebecca (Hoffman) Hoy


William Ellsworth Hoy was born in Houckstown, Ohio in 1862. He played major league baseball from 1887-1904 as an outfielder for six different teams. He was known as an outstanding defensive player with one of the best outfield arms of his time. He was one of the best lead off hitters and fastest men in baseball during his career. Not many people have heard of him outside of Cincinnati. Recently, the Cincinnati Reds inducted him into their hall of fame. This man had a huge impact upon the game of baseball although he is not remembered.

"So far, no one in the Hall of Fame has beaten Dummy Hoy in stolen bases during his rookie year!"
—Steven R. Sandy - Dummy Hoy Family Historian since 1989.

William Ellsworth Hoy collected 2057 hits, 597 stolen bases, scored 1419 runs and was walked 1004 times during his 14 years in major league baseball. These statistics alone would warrant high praise for the man’s ability on the base paths and with a bat. He was deadly accurate as an outfielder too; in one game he threw out three men at home plate. Only two other players have equaled this feat in baseball history. He batted .300 three times and at age 40, had a batting average of .290! Yet, his greatest impact on the game cannot be found in his statistics and yet, it can be clearly seen in any major league or little league game played today, anywhere in the world.

"Dummy wound up his major league career with 1784 games, 2057 hits in 7053 times at bat, 1419 runs, 236 doubles, 118 triples, 41 homers, .292 average. Died at 99, highly respected by all who had seen him play, or who knew him in later years."
—Gene Karst and Martin J. Jones, Jr., Who’s Who in Professional Baseball, c. 1973

“Dummy” Hoy played baseball in a different era; people were very different as well. Baseball players through the years have always had nicknames; some humorous, some geographical, some depicting a physical attribute and some downright cruel. William Ellsworth Hoy was unable to hear or speak, hence, the nickname “Dummy.”

This man, however, was so good that baseball made an accommodation for him. Due to the fact that he was hearing impaired, the umpires came up with hand signals to let him know if the pitch was a strike or a ball. These same hand signals are still in use today. Umpires through the years have added many extra dramatics to the signals but those basic accommodations for Mr. Hoy have become baseball tradition. He also was accommodated because of his quickness on the base paths.

Through the use of hand signals, a first base and third base coach could communicate the play while he was on base. The hand signals could relay whether the batter was going to bunt, hit and run or sacrifice. These hand signals too, have become a series of almost non-sensible and baffling motions throughout the years.
What started out as an accommodation for one man changed the game. People with disabilities have impacted America’s game as well as America’s society. An accommodation for one was good for all.

"When outfielder Hoy made a brilliant catch, the crowd arose ‘en masse’ and wildly waved hats and arms. It was the only way in which they could testify their appreciation to the deaf-mute athlete."
—Henry Furness, Sporting Life, 1892

At the age of 99, William Ellsworth Hoy threw out the first pitch of the third game during the 1961 World Series between the Cincinnati Reds and the New York Yankees.  1n 2001 he was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame as “William Ellsworth Hoy” not “Dummy.”

“Dummy Hoy . . . 99 years old! Wonder if that’s his real age or his baseball age?”
—Commentator Joe Garagiola on Opening Day of the third World Series game, Cincinnati Reds vs. New York Yankees, October 7, 1961, on seeing Hoy throw the first ball of the game

The next time you watch a baseball game and see the umpire behind the plate making a call, take into mind the impact that one person can have. Because baseball made accommodations for a talented player with a disability, it allowed a man to show his abilities and to contribute to the game. Everyone benefited from his inclusion.

His abilities were so much greater than his disabilities; he was a baseball player and not a disability. He was William Ellsworth Hoy, not “Dummy.” He was an individual who was given accommodations so that he could participate and contribute to the sport he loved.

"Maybe Dummy Hoy didn’t hit as many home runs as Babe Ruth or Hank Aaron or have as many singles as Ty Cobb or Pete Rose. But he did more."

"He is a symbol of people who just need to be given a chance—a chance to be treated just like everyone else."

"Put Dummy Hoy in the Hall of Fame."
—Joshua Leland Evans, in Sports Collectors Digest, July 26, 1991


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Last Up-Date   03/05/2010 10:17:11 AM