New film about famous Deaf baseball player featuring Miles Barbee
Last September, a movie trailer was released about the life of a famous Deaf baseball player, William E. Hoy, best known as “Dummy” Hoy. The movie is called, “The Silent Natural,” It is produced by David Risotto. Miles Barbee, a Deaf actor, portrays the main character, Hoy. There are some other familiar actors in this movie such as Anne Lockhart from “The Time Traveler’s Wife” and Courtney Gains from “Back to the Future.”
The movie premiere will be hosted in Hopkinsville, Kentucky at the Alhambra Theatre on May 31st at 7:30pm.
Hoy was born in 1862 in Ohio. He became deaf when he was 2. He began playing professional baseball in 1886. His small body frame and speed made him an outstanding base runner. He was good at stealing bases during his baseball career. He was also good at hitting. He was ambidextrous - he threw with his right hand and batted left hand.
Hoy created arm signals for umpires to use and we still see them today! Thanks to Hoy.
Hoy played for several professional baseball teams in 4 major leagues, most notably the Cincinnati Reds. Eventually he retired from baseball and ran a dairy farm in Ohio. He died in 1961 at the age of 99. At that time, he was the longest-living former MLB player
The Daily Moth reached out to Miles Barbee to share his experience acting as Hoy.
How did you prepare yourself to act the role of Hoy?
MILES BARBEE: My preparation in taking on the role of Dummy was tough because there were no videos about Dummy Hoy. He lived during a time before film existed, so I kept looking at his pictures. Most of these pictures showed Dummy with a stoic face. So how could I take on his personality with what I had? I thought about it and decided to throw out my identity as Miles Barbee and assumed only Dummy Hoy’s identity. That helped me to do what I needed to do rather than dwell on the personality part. I’d rather doing less thinking than too much during every scene. Think less and more focus on what was more important; the relationships and what’s happening during these scenes instead of too much of that internal conflict.
Renca: Wow, no videos of Hoy to study from. Definitely challenging. Barbee also mentioned that there was an ASL translator, Linsay Darnall Jr., who is an expert with signs from the 1800's and made sure that Barbee's signs fit that era.
What did you find challenging in your role?
MILES: My most challenging experience with the role of Dummy Hoy was, after a full month, being able to stay in that role. We filmed for 21 days. My mood and feelings were changing, but I had to set these aside and focus only on the role. I’m impressed with myself being able to stay in this role continuously. Whenever I acted, I usually do it for the night or for just one day or it’s with the same show I’ve rehearsed many times. Every scene was different. I had to think and the same time, stay in the role. I couldn’t waver for a moment. That’s what acting is and it was really tough for me.
Renca: Was there something similar with your personal experience and Hoy's experience that you feel connected with?
MILES: I do think, I’ve noticed similarities between myself and Dummy in that he’s stubborn and he’s persistent. Even though he had obstacles, he didn’t give up. He fought through barriers and made it. When he made it, he still kept going. I’ve noticed his generousness towards the deaf community. We’re the same because I want the best for the deaf community and the best future for the kids. That’s what I want and we are similar in that way. He contributed a lot of money to the deaf community, but I’m not there yet.
Renca: Anything you would like to add?
MILES: I couldn’t do this film without my teammates whether they’re deaf or hearing, We all worked together in making this happen. Yes, I was in the lead role, but I saw everyone who was there and who left. I was always there from the beginning to the end. After all this, I’m deeply thankful to everyone who was there and made this happen. I would’ve not be able to do this without them.
Renca: Thank you Barbee for sharing.
In 2001, a baseball field at Gallaudet University was named after Hoy. In 2003, he was inducted in the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame.
You can find more information about this film on Facebook titled as “The Silent Natural.” The link is in this transcript.