PITTSBURGH — William Ellsworth “Dummy” Hoy is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame. But thanks to the efforts of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) his plight is drawing much more attention.
At its annual business meeting in Pittsburgh last week, Hoy was selected as SABR’s Overlooked 19th Century Baseball Legend for 2018. The title determined annually to represent a 19th-century player, manager, executive or other baseball personality not yet inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
Of the 11 men nominated this year, Hoy received 418 points in voting by SABR members attending the event. Jim Creighton (410), Bobby Mathews (391), Charlie Bennett (369) and Paul Hines rounded out the top five.
Previous Overlooked Legends were Pete Browning in 2009, Deacon White in 2010, Harry Stovey in 2011, Bill Dahlen in 2012, Ross Barnes in 2013, Doc Adams in 2014, Tony Mullane in 2015, Jack Glasscock in 2016, and Bob Caruthers last year. White became the first Overlooked Legend to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013.
Born in Houcktown on the edge of Findlay, Hoy, who was deaf and had difficulty speaking, nonetheless played 14 seasons in four major leagues, spending the most time in Cincinnati and Washington of the National League. Despite his challenges, he was among the best center fielders and leadoff hitters in the game. He accumulated 2,048 hits with 121 triples, had a career .288 batting average, drew 1,006 walks, scored 1,429 runs, and stole 596 bases.
According to a SABR release: “Some historians credit Hoy with umpires using hand signals for balls and strikes and safe and out calls, but their view is open to question. Historian Bill Deane challenges that claim. Deane said, “We can find no contemporary articles about Hoy, or even any written while he was alive, that claim a connection between Hoy and the umpire’s hand signals — much less any claim by Hoy himself.” Bill Klem, a showboating umpire who began his umpiring career two years after Hoy retired, is officially credited with inventing hand signals as noted on his Hall of Fame plaque. Still, the deaf boy from Ohio became one of the best players of his era and lived to be 99 (at the time, a record age for a former major league player).”
When Hoy retired, he ranked ninth in games played, second in walks, fourth in stolen bases and sixth in hit by pitches. He was the career leader in games played in center field (1,727) until 1920. Hoy is the only player two score 100 or more runs in a season in four major leagues, doing so in the Players League (1890), American Association (1891), National League (1892″”94, 96, 98″”99), and American League (1901).