Sunday, July 27, 2003

Readers correct record about Hoy

Response to last week's column confirms that a lot of baseball experts read The Cincinnati Enquirer. While many wrote to praise the story itself or the career of deaf player William "Dummy" Hoy, a few wrote to set the record straight on myth attaching itself to Hoy.

From Jeanne Shannon, West Chester Township:

"My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed your article on 'Dummy' Hoy today. I went to school with his grandkids in Mount Healthy in the 1940s. His only granddaughter is living in Sycamore Township. Another grandson lives in California, and another, who died some years ago, was an Ohio state representative. There are several great-grandchildren. It would be nice to have some of them there (at Great American Ball Park on Aug. 3), inducting their illustrious grandfather into the Reds Hall of Fame."

From Steve Sandy, Columbus:

"As a serious researcher of 'Dummy' Hoy since 1989, I have collected articles, tidbits, a baseball card, a uniform, and even a wedding dessert plate given me by a Hoy family member. He first tried out for the Milwaukee Brewers, didn't like what they offered, tried out for Oshkosh and accepted. His last season was with Los Angeles (in the Pacific Coast League), playing all 212 games."

From Paul Herbert, Milford:

"I enjoyed your interesting and informative article on 'Dummy' Hoy. Well, almost all of it. The one irritating inclusion was the statement that signals made to Hoy by his coach in a game in Oshkosh led to the signs flashed in the game today. Umpiring hand signals began a year or so after Hoy retired. The signals to Hoy were used for his benefit and that's all. ... His induction into the Reds Hall of Fame is based on his achievements as a ballplayer, not because of that 'originated umpiring hand signals' fiction."

From Wayne Tucker, Taylor Mill:

"Even though many believe that he is the reason umpires began using hand signals, this is not the case. It has been verified for years by several baseball historians that this did not happen until after Hoy retired. A recent comment on this was in famed paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould's book Triumph and Tragedy in Mudville. On page 127, he notes: 'Popular sources hold that Hoy initiated a ubiquitous, if minor, tradition of baseball practiced ever since - the hand signals used by umpires. ... Best evidence indicates that the first umpire to use such signals did not enter baseball until 1905, two years after Hoy's retirement (although Hoy's teammates probably did signal him from the dugout, and perhaps with the same signs eventually adopted by umpires).

"Gould also goes on to support Hoy's election to the National (Baseball) Hall of Fame, saying that he 'belongs in the Hall of Fame by sole virtue of his excellent, sustained play over a long career. His case seems undeniable to me.' "

No one could put it better.

Contact Debra Kendrick by phone: 673-4474; fax: 321-6430; e-mail:<.

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