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May 16, 2003

Reds centerfielder Hoy spurred umps' signals

From: Cincinnati Enquirer, OH - May 16, 2003

On May 16, 1902, Reds centerfielder William Ellsworth "Dummy" Hoy stepped to the plate against New York Giants pitcher Luther Haden "Dummy" Taylor at the Palace of the Fans in Cincinnati. It was the only game in Major League Baseball history in which one deaf player batted against another.

Hoy - the first deaf person to play in the majors - hit two singles and scored a run, but the Reds lost 5-3.

In 1886, Hoy asked the third-base coach for the Oshkosh Club, his minor league team at the time, to use hand signals to convey balls and strikes called by the umpire. At the time, umpires only shouted out the count. Thanks to Hoy, such hand signals were picked up by umpires at every level of baseball. Hoy later adapted for baseball the "out" and "safe" signals from American Sign Language.

Born in Houcktown, Ohio, in 1862, Hoy played five seasons for the Reds, from 1894-97 and again in 1902. A good hitter (.288 lifetime) and one of the best base runners and outfielders in the game, he was adored by Cincinnati fans. He retired in 1903 and bought a 60-acre dairy farm near Mount Healthy, which he operated for 20 years.

In October 1961 - at age 99 - Hoy threw out the first ball in the third World Series game between the Reds and the Yankees, at Crosley Field. He fell sick shortly thereafter and died in Cincinnati on Dec. 15.

Copyright 1995-2003. The Cincinnati Enquirer , a Gannett Co. Inc. newspaper.