of Hoys Career
|In 1886, age 24, Hoy began his professional career in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. During his stint in Oshkosh, he arranged for the third-base coach to signal strikes and balls to him.
After two seasons, he was grabbed by the Washington Senators, his first major-league team. By the end of his rookie year with Washington, Hoy led the National League in stolen basesan astounding 82. For the Senators, he set a fielding record that still stands. On June 19, 1889, he threw out three Indianapolis baserunners at home plate from the outfieldthe first of only three outfielders in history to do so.
In 1890, Hoy, together with his Senatorial teammates (including Connie Mack), jumped to the Buffalo Brotherhood team of the short-lived Players’ League. The club and league folded after a single season. Charlie Comiskey brought Hoy to the American Association’s St. Louis Browns in 1891the best team Hoy had played for so far. Hoy led the league in walks with 119 and led the Browns with 136 runs scored. But the American Association folded after the 1891 season, so Hoy returned to Washington and put in two more seasons with the unlucky Senators.
After the regular 1893 season was over, Hoy joined the Boston Beaneaters’ winter-league team in California, a barnstorming aggregation casually called the Boston Baseball Club. His last play of the seasona stunningly calculated 9th-inning catch in a thick gray San Francisco fogclinched the 1894 pennant for his team.
In 1894, he was sold to the Cincinnati Reds, then under Comiskey’s management. There he played center field again as an outstanding flyhawk. The Cincinnati fans adored him. He was with the Reds four seasons, his longest stay with any team, and liked Cincinnati so much that he settled there during the off-season.
In 1898, he was traded to the hapless Louisville Colonels shortly before the club was dropped from the National League, joined a minor league, and disbanded. (Fred Clarke was player-manager, and Hoy’s teammates also included Honus Wagner, Tommy Leach, Rube Waddell, Nick Altrock, and other notables, several of whom formed the nucleus of the new Pittsburgh Pirates’ aggregation after they left the Colonels.) He gave Louisville two of his finest seasons, batting .318 in 1898 (his best average in the majors) and .306 in 1899.
On May 1, 1901, Hoy hit the second grand slam in the newly-formed American League. (His teammate Herm McFarland had hit the first one earlier in the same game.) That year, he played in 130 games and hit .294 for Comiskey’s Chicago White Sox (under Clarke Griffith’s management), and helped win the first AL pennant for them. He had 45 assists from the fielda record for any league.
He returned to the Reds for what was to be his last major-league season. On May 16, 1902, “Dummy” Hoy, going to bat for the Reds, faced Luther Haden “Dummy” Taylor (1875-1958) of the New York Giants. (The Giants won that game 5 to 3 with 5 runs in the 9th inning.) It was the only time in major-league history that two deaf players faced each other. Hoy and Taylor, a colorful, peppery character, later played as battery-mates (Taylor pitching, Hoy catching) in the opening game of the Ohio State Deaf Softball Tournament in Toledo (Toledo vs. Akron “Rubber City Silents”) on Labor Day Weekend, 1942.
On August 7, 1902, in the middle of a dissension-ridden season, the Reds released Hoy. He took his leave cheerfully.
After racking up 1,792 games in the major leagues and a .288 lifetime batting average, Hoy finished out his career with the Los Angeles Looloos, in the newly-founded Pacific Coast League, with an impressive 46 stolen bases and 413 putouts. He played in 211 gamesthe complete 1903 schedule. Two of his teammates were Joe Corbett, brother of “Gentleman Jim” Corbett of boxing fame, and Clifford Carlton “Gavy” Cravath, one of the notable sluggers of the pre-Ruth era. Hoy’s able fielding and hits helped the Looloos win the pennant.
Following his exciting PCL season in 1903, Hoy, now 42, bought a 60-acre dairy farm near Mount Healthy on the outskirts of Cincinnati. He operated it for 20 years, and sold it in 1924. During World War I, he was a personnel director of several hundred deaf worker at Goodyears. He coached the Goodyear Silents baseball club from 1919 to 1920, when the Akron “Deaf colony” was at its absolute peak and boasted outstanding sports clubs. He also umpired Deaf-team games. After the Armistice, he and his family returned to Cincinnati.
In 1951, Hoy was unanimously voted the first player to be enshrined in the American Athletic Association of the Deafs Hall of Fame. The AAAD (now the USA Deaf Sports Federation) began lobbying to get Hoy inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, while he was still alive.
Despite having influential friends in the top echelons of organized baseball, Hoy never promoted his own cause. Instead, he lobbied on behalf of the late August “Garry” Herrmann, the genial, popular owner of the Reds and a member of the triumvirate of commissioners who ruled baseball before the one-man commissioner system was instituted. (To date, Herrmann has not been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, although his name has been included on recent ballots.)
Even after retiring from professional play, Hoy retained his enthusiasm for baseball. He joined a local amateur team, coached Deaf-community teams, attended meetings of the Baseball Players of Yesterday, and kept in contact with old friends and researchers. A 1939 reunion with Clark Griffith and Connie Mack made headlines, and a press photographer snapped the trio enjoying a nostalgic chat in sign language.
On October 7, 1961, Hoy tossed the first ball at Opening Day of the third World Series game in Crosley Field (Reds vs. Yankees). Shortly afterwards, he became ill and was hospitalized. On December 15, 1961, he died of a stroke. He was 99 years, 5 months, and 8 days oldjust over 6 months shy of his hundredth birthday. He had hoped to reach 100and almost did.
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