This picture book biography demonstrates how an extraordinary deaf player from the early days of baseball made a lasting contribution to the game.
I’ve had a battle with my hearing since I was little. I’ve had tinnitus since I can remember and I remember quite clearly when both of my eardrums ruptured simultaneously as I was walking into my Chemistry class my sophomore year of high school. My teacher, who seemingly hated his job and kids, thought I was just being disruptive when I was clearly in serious pain and couldn’t hear a thing. It was scary! Luckily, after a trip to two doctors, I had to have surgery to get tubes in my ears. Long story short, my ears became infected, I had some hearing loss, and I had many follow-up appointments and hearing tests as my ear drums healed. My tinnitus has gotten worse as I’ve gotten older and I go to an ear specialist every two years to test my hearing levels. It’s not something I like to divulge, but out of courtesy to the people I work with, I usually say I have some hearing issues, so if I ask you to repeat something, I’m not being rude, I just can’t hear you.
My hearing issues are not just an off chance for me in my family, my dad’s side has a history of hearing issues. Recently my older brother, in his late 30s, got diagnosed with otosclerosis (which is hereditary) and he now wears hearing aids. We live in a time when hearing aids can be barely detected, like the Alta2 CIC (Completely in Canal) hearing aids are not very noticeable and are programmed to gradually adjust to one’s hearing range as the brain gets acclimated to using them. My brother talks about how amazing it is to hear footsteps and hearing his fingers type on the keyboard again. Even hearing birds chirping was a brand new thing for him after years of hearing loss! Amazing. I’ve realized over time that hearing loss or tinnitus isn’t something to be embarrassed about and I feel lucky to live in an age where the technology and surgery have advanced so much that we can live quite normally in a hearing world, because I know that wasn’t always so. In fact, I wanted to read and review a story about a man named William Hoy, not only for his very interesting story and the way he changed major league baseball, he is also one of my relatives. They called him “Dummy” Hoy.
When my mom, the pseudo-genealogist, told me we were related to a man called “Dummy” Hoy from my father’s side of the family, who was a deaf baseball player, I was not surprised. My grandfather has worn hearing aids from the time that I remember and several of my dad’s cousins were deaf or had hearing loss issues. What I did not realize, until I read a new book through Albert Whitman called “The William Hoy Story: How a Deaf Baseball Player Changed the Game”, was that William (born in Houcktown, Ohio) was a great baseball player and is the reason that the umpires in baseball now use hand signals like strike, ball, and out. The fact that William, as a deaf man, even played on a professional team when he did is quite extraordinary. I had to look past the prejudice he faced, the terrible nickname of “Dummy” (which William embraced), and the real struggles that can still exist for those who are deaf to get to the heart of William’s story. You see, in Hoy’s time, the word “dumb” was used to describe someone who could not speak, and since the ability to speak was often unfairly connected to one’s intelligence, the words “dumb” and “dummy” became interchangeable with stupidity. Hoy, who was extremely intelligent, is noted for being the most accomplished deaf player in Major League history and was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds, his final team before retirement, Hall of Fame in 2003.
“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 (1862-1961) had an uphill battle in life after contracting meningitis at the age of 3 and lost his hearing. Hoy graduated from the Ohio State School for the Deaf in Columbus as class valedictorian and opened his own shoe repair store in his hometown while playing his beloved baseball on the weekends. In fact, all Hoy wanted to do was play baseball. Amazingly, Hoy was so good at baseball that in 1888, he earned a spot with the Washington Nationals of the National League, and became the third deaf player in the Major Leagues, the other two being pitchers Ed Dundon and Tom Lynch. However, as an outfielder, Hoy had many struggles he had to face, one being he could not hear the umpires’ calls. Once umpires began to use hand signals to make their calls, life in baseball became a lot easier for Hoy. In fact, over the span of his 14 year career in MLB, Hoy collected 2057 hits, 597 stolen bases, scored 1419 runs and was walked 1004 times. Hoy was known as an exceptional outfielder; in one game he threw out three men at home plate and, to date, only two other players have equaled this feat in baseball history. He also batted .300 three times and at age 40, had a batting average of .290. WOW! However, even with all the statistical evidence of Hoy’s contribution as a great player shows, his greatest impact is not found in numbers, it is found in the way every major league or little league game played today, anywhere in the world – with hand signals. William “Dummy” Hoy became one of the greatest and most beloved players of his time and now you can read all about his life in baseball in this delightful book. I am proud to call “Dummy” part of my family tree as well as being very proud of all those who have a disability and can accomplish amazing things – even changing the way a game is played! This is a perfect book for all children (and parents!) to read, especially those kids who are hearing impaired who can be inspired by “Dummy’s” journey.
About the Author: Nancy Churnin is a native New Yorker and a lover of baseball who is happy to call Dallas her home. Go Rangers! She’s the theater critic for The Dallas Morning News and a graduate of Harvard University, with a master’s from Columbia University School of Journalism. She lives in North Texas with her husband, Dallas Morning News arts writer Michael Granberry. Between shows and deadlines, they’re raising four sweet boys and two crazy cats.
About Albert Whitman & Company: The Illinois Albert Whitman & Company has been publishing books to help educate, entertain and encourage children for over 90 years! Wow! Albert Gayne Whitman was a Chicago-born actor in both radio and film between the years 1904-1957. Albert Whitman & Company has always been independently owned and operated and is best known for the classic series The Boxcar Children Mysteries.
List Price: $ 16.99 (On Sale through Amazon.com for $ 12.64)