On May 1, 1901, Detroit Tigers pitcher Ed Siever gave up the first grand slam in American League history. It happened at South Side Park in Chicago, and it was the third road game in Tigers history.
The man who hit the grand slam was William Ellsworth Hoy, and he didn’t hear any of the cheers from the reported 2,400 fans. He couldn’t. He was unable to hear or speak. In fact, he wasn’t known as William or even Bill. He was known as Dummy Hoy, an incredibly insensitive name to put on someone who had been hit with such a devastating situation. However, he actually referred to himself as Dummy and would correct people when they called him something else.
Hoy, who lost his hearing due to an illness in his childhood, hit his grand slam in the bottom of the fifth inning as the White Sox pinned a 19-9 thumping on the Tigers, who arrived in Chicago with a 4-0 record after sweeping four home games against the Milwaukee Brewers. Detroit split two games in Chicago before the game on May 1.
Hoy, a graduate of the Ohio School for the Deaf in Columbus, Ohio, was no gimmick. At the time of his grand slam, he had played in the major leagues since 1888, and he led the National League in walks with 117 in 1891. In his only season with the White Sox in 1901, he led the American League with 86 walks and hit .294 with two home runs, 60 RBIs and 112 runs scored.
Hoy was three weeks shy of his 39th birthday when he hit the grand slam, and he played one more season in the majors. Amazingly, he finished his major-league career with 2,048 hits and a .288 career batting average.
He is credited with the use of hand signals that are still in the game today. When he began playing, umpires shouted out the calls, but when Hoy would bat, he requested that umpires raise their right arm to signal a strike and raise their left hand to signal a ball.
Hoy lived to be 99 years old and died on December 15, 1961, in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Siever, meanwhile, spent his first two major-league seasons with the Tigers in 1901-02 and the final three of his time in Detroit in 1906-08. He led the American League with a 1.91 ERA in 1902 despite an 8-11 record, and he was 18-11 in 1907 for the first pennant-winning team in Tigers history.
Siever started Game 3 of the 1907 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at West Side Gronds in Chicago and was the losing pitcher in a 5-1 game. He died in Detroit at age 44 on February 4, 1920.