William E. Hoy was born hearing in Houckstown, Ohio, on May 23, 1862. He became deaf before he was three years old.

Later, he attended the Columbus “Ohio” School for the Deaf from the age of ten to the age of eighteen. As a student, he learned to play baseball; from then on, he was always involved with baseball.

Following his high school graduation, Hoy started playing semi-professional baseball while he worked as a shoemaker. Eventually, Hoy began playing professional baseball in 1886 for Oshkosh (Wisconsin) of the Northwestern League.

In 1888, he started as an outfielder with the old Washington Senators. Hoy was a small man, and he was fast. As a result, he was an outstanding base runner. In addition, he was very good at stealing bases during his career.

In fact, during the 1888 major league season, he stole 82 bases. Moreover, he was the Senators leading hitter in 1888. Most importantly, he invented the arm signals, still used by umpires.

Hoy’s last ball game in 1903 was amazing. At that time he was playing for Los Angeles of the Pacific Coast Winter League. It was a memorable game.

To illustrate, it was foggy; therefore, it was very hard to see the ball. In the ninth inning, while two men were out, Hoy managed to catch the ball in spite of the fog.

Consequently, Los Angeles won the pennant for that year.
When his last game was over, he retired from playing baseball. He knew that as he became older he was not playing as well as when he was younger.

Nevertheless, he stayed very busy running a dairy farm near Cincinnati for 20 years and taking several weekly 4 and 10-miles walks.

In October 1961, after so much time away from baseball, Hoy appeared at Crowley Field in Cincinnati. He tossed the first ball of the World Series. Soon, after that, Hoy died on December 15, 1961, at the age of 99.*

Source: *Adapted from: Goodstein, A., and Walworth, M. (1979). Interesting Deaf Americans. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University. Reprinted with permission from the Gallaudet University Alumni Association. Revised by Daphne Goodall & Ellen Beck.

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