News & Updates

“Eternal hope”:

Hall of Fame changes the rules

In Summer 2002, the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee announced major changes to the election procedure—increasing the size of the voting body, removing previous restrictions, and instituting a biennial election to replace the annual one. Note that the rules regarding eligibility of 19th-century players are still being re-evaluated. Will these changes enhance Hoy’s changes of being inducted? It’s too soon to tell.

April 8, 2001

Gallaudet University dedicated its baseball field as Hoy Field on April 8.

Here’s a newspaper report.

Gallaudet dedicates diamond

By Ellen Sorokin

The Washington Times

The Gallaudet University Bisons yesterday dedicated their on-campus baseball field to William “Dummy” Hoy, a player they called an inspiration and role model for the deaf community.

In a brief ceremony, the Bisons, in blue-and-white uniforms, stood along the grassy knoll behind the Field House as they named it Hoy Field. Hoy’s granddaughter-in-law, Miriam Skaggs, threw out a ceremonial first pitch to start the game against the Christendom College Crusaders.

Yesterday’s first pitch resembled the one Hoy threw to open Game Three of the World Series between the Cincinnati Reds and the New York Yankees in 1961. Hoy died two months later at the age of 99.

“He’s an inspiration to the entire deaf community,” said Scott Waldorf, a Gallaudet student and co-captain of the baseball team. “He’s a prime example that the deaf can succeed in the hearing world if you work hard like he did.”

Hoy was the first deaf and mute outfielder to play in the major leagues. In a career that lasted from 1888 to 1902, he was responsible for creating the system of hand signals umpires now use to call balls, strikes and outs.

To the deaf community, Hoy is also a hero who was able to break down the barriers between the hearing and the hearing-impaired, a task that was difficult to achieve in the early 20th century, when society was less accepting of the handicapped.

“He was a good example of someone who grew up deaf and then succeeded in the hearing world,” university President I. King Jordan said yesterday. “He showed that deaf people can make it in the world.”

Few, however, had made it as professional athletes. One is Curtis Pride, 31, a native of Silver Spring, Md., and a Kennedy High School graduate who has been deaf most of his life. He is now an outfielder with the Montreal Expos, the team with which he made his major league debut in 1993. He also has played with the Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox and the Atlanta Braves. Pride – who can talk and read lips, but does not use sign language – is the first deaf person to play on a big-league team since 1945.

Others challenge that stat and say Hoy was the first to represent the deaf and the mute community in a professional setting. And he was successful. Hoy threw out three base runners at home plate in one game while playing outfield for the Washington Nationals in 1889. He is one of only three professional outfielders to accomplish the feat. He also was the first one to hit what is now known as a grand-slam home run in the American League.

“It’s an honor to play on a field named after him because he exposed so many people to the deaf culture and its history,” said Joey Kolcun, a Gallaudet student and co-captain of the team, which is 7-13 this spring.

Earlier in the day, the school’s team paid tribute to Hoy at a breakfast program, during which former Baltimore Oriole Brooks Robinson praised Hoy’s accomplishments.

Hoy’s followers also used the event to gather more support to induct the legend into the Baseball Hall of Fame, an effort they began in 1990.

Despite their efforts, the Veterans Committee has continued to bypass Hoy. Hoy, however, has been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in his home state of Ohio.

Many fans consider it a snub to deaf Americans that he is not a member of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. But they haven’t given up hope that one day their hero will be welcomed.

“Let his record speak for itself," said Matthew Moore, president of the William Ellsworth Hoy Committee. “He deserves this not just because he is deaf, but because he was a great baseball player in his time. He was a gentleman and a very helpful and decent human being.”

Mrs. Skaggs, who flew from California to attend the ceremony, said she believes Hoy will be inducted into the Hall of Fame soon.

“He should be inducted because of his integrity and his passion for the sport,” said Mrs. Skaggs, whose husband, Carson Skaggs, is one of Hoy’s grandsons. “He was able to overcome many obstacles in order to play baseball.”

The Washington Times, April 9, 2001

Copyright © 2001 News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.

January 2001

A new affiliation for the Hoy Committee

In November 2000, the Hoy Committee voted to transfer its affiliation from the USA Deaf Sports Federation to MSM Productions, Ltd., which is bringing you this homepage. Plans include a dedicated chatroom, new business cards, letterhead, and E-mail addresses for executive members of the Committee, and a national convention for all Hoy advocates and supporters.

The official title and subtitle of the Committee are:

The William “Dummy” Hoy Committee

Hall of Fame/Outreach Campaign

Mission statement

The Committee's responsibilities are twofold:

1) Hall of Fame Induction Campaign—to get William Ellsworth “Dummy” Hoy elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame;

2) Outreach & Education—to conduct an ongoing outreach campaign to increase public awareness of the achievements of Hoy and other deaf baseball players.

And...

Other projects include purchasing Hoy memorabilia and artifacts for a possible mini-museum, and helping to get Hoy inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame.

To raise funds for the Committee, we plan to design and sell commemorative pins and T-shirts, among other items.

***

Spring 2000

A happy surprise for Hoy fans...

The Sunday, February 20, 2000 issue of the Rochester, New York Democrat and Chronicle contained a bonanza for Hoy fans: a beefy front-page story, “Going to bat for a deaf hero,” complete with several photos of Hoy! There was also a photo of Matthew S. Moore, who’s working on the Hoy biography, on the front page, and a photo of Hoy Committee member Bob Panara inside.

The article was written by Matt Leingang, and we appreciated its fair-mindedness and balance. Leingang put a lot of effort into gathering information and contrasting viewpoints. He discusses the case for having Hoy inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and also quotes the views of baseball historian Bill Deane, who argues that there simply isn’t enough evidence that Hoy was directly responsible for the introduction of umpire’s hand signals, and that, as far as he can tell, the signals were introduced into the game after Hoy retired. Deane takes the stance that Bill Klem and Cy Rigler were the first umpires to use the signals. As he sees it, Hoy’s connection to umpires’ signals is a baseball myth. He’s working on a book about baseball myths, to include a chapter on the “Hoy myth.”

Leingang interviewed Moore and Panara personally, and conducted telephone interviews with members of Hoy’s family, notably his granddaughter Joan Sampson, and baseball historians. (He also used a TTY for the first time to interview Hoy Committee member Steve Sandy.) He quotes Moore’s views on the discrepancy between the “official” Cooperstown view and the contemporary evidence linking Hoy to the introduction of signs and signals into major-league baseball.

Other news noted by Leingang: Rochester-based filmmaker Don Casper is working on a documentary about the origin of umpires’ signals.

...and an unhappy one

Matt Leingang’s story appeared 9 days before the Committee on Baseball Veterans convened and voted to choose the 2000 inductees into the Hall of Fame. We understand that the Veterans’ Committee’s balloting and voting was done very quickly. The voting was completed on February 29, and the results were published on March 1. Norman Thomas “Turkey” Stearnes (1901-1979) was this year’s inductee in the Negro Leagues category. John Alexander “Bid” McPhee (1859-1943) was the 19th Century player chosen. He was a fine defensive second-baseman who specialized in hitting triples. McPhee managed the Cincinnati Reds in 1901 and part of 1902, during Hoy’s last years on the team, so the two definitely knew each other. Hoy’s supporters were left fuming at what they saw as the Veterans’ Committee’s continued snub. And the Veterans’ Committee didn’t even elect a 19th Century player for 2001.


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