Designed By Removal: The Invention Of The Baseball Hand Signal & How A Deaf Man Changed The Game Forever

Like an epidemic, a baseball craze hit New York City in the summer of 1865. Suddenly, a game played only in the streets by factory workers was being called a “national pastime” by local journalists. Baseball was bringing Americans together, a year later there would be sixteen area clubs formed around the sport’s first governing body.

403 miles away, a young boy was suffering from a severe case of meningitis that would eventually leave him deaf and mute, consequently changing baseball forever. William Ellsworth (Dummy) Hoy was born in Houckstown Ohio, the son of a local farmer. Years later he would graduate as the valedictorian of his high school class. Hoy like many other deaf people during the day, started a shoe repair shop afterwards. Apparently, summers in Houckstown were characterized by folk not wearing shoes. This left Hoy out of work and often bored. To fill his free time he would play baseball with the local children.

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