- The Washington Times - Monday, April 9, 2001

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 a 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."

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