By Reid Dunlavey, Contributor

With Major League Baseball clubs reporting for spring training it got me thinking again about William “Dummy” Hoy (1862-1961). He was a baseball player who was deaf and played in four different major leagues from 1886 until 1902. He had a stint with the Cincinnati Reds and a year in Buffalo, New York playing with Hall of Fame catcher Connie Mack.

Mar. 2012 blog - Home run for William “Dummy” Hoy - 1

Some credit Hoy with the development of hand signals for safe and out calls because he couldn’t hear what the umpires were saying. While I think an innovation such as hand signals that have greatly expanded in the modern game is reason enough for Hoy to be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame (which he is not by the way), there is much more to his legacy than that.

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Hoy finished his career with the Cincinnati Reds in 1902 with a .288 career batting average not an eye opening average but a very good one. He had 2,048 hits which puts him 242nd all-time and scored 1,429 runs putting him in 80th place for his career. The offensive number that stands out to me is Hoy’s 596 stolen bases, 82 in 1888 alone, that puts him 18th all-time 110 years after he retired, an amazing achievement. Defensively, Hoy was a speedy center fielder who, when he was playing in Buffalo in 1890, threw out three players at home plate in the same game. Only two other players have accomplished the same feat. When he retired he held the career record for most putouts by an outfielder.

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In an era of suspicion, both today and in the last 15 years, of players using steroids to pad their numbers, I think to myself that Hoy’s numbers stand up and could continue to do so in the future. With 297 inductees in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, I am shocked that “Dummy” Hoy is not one of them. He helped the game innovate, was a solid offensive player and was a great center fielder. In 2003, Hoy was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame but he deserves greater recognition.