Silent Star: The Story of Deaf Major Leaguer William Hoy
Written by Bill Wise
Illustrated by Adam Gustavson
I am a pushover for books about people who overcome challenges to achieve greatness. I also really love baseball. So I was intrigued to read Silent Star, which tells the story of a deaf major league baseball player named William “Dummy” Hoy. I found the book to be a fascinating glimpse at a little-known baseball player whose achievements will still impress today.
William Hoy was born in 1862 and lost his hearing after a bout of meningitis when he was three years old. Despite his inability to hear or speak clearly, Hoy finished school and worked at a trade. But his true love was baseball. He was spotted by a coach for an amateur baseball team, and later got the opportunity to play for the Washington Nationals. Over a fourteen-year career, he became one of the best players in the National League and still holds several records today.
Author Bill Wise creates a fascinating narrative full of dramatic moments, such as Hoy’s faceoff against a deaf pitcher and the inventive way he managed to interpret umpire’s calls that he couldn’t hear. He also explains Hoy’s nickname, “Dummy,” with sensitivity and an understanding of the time period. Adam Gustavson’s illustrations perfectly capture the look and feel of the period. An Afterword provides more information about Hoy and his influence on baseball.
Silent Star is perfect for fourth-grade readers. Baseball fans will love the story, the action, and the detailed illustrations and will discover little-known insights into the game, while even non-sports fans will respond to the drama and heroism of Hoy’s story. The language is simple but effective, making the book work as a read aloud or something that a competent reader could tackle independently with few difficulties in comprehension. This book could also be a lively source for creating reading and writing activities centered on baseball or American heroes. Silent Star would be a great addition to any fourth-grade reading list.