The William Hoy Story: how a deaf baseball player changed the game


William Hoy on Good Morning Texas!

William Hoy on 105.3 The Fan with Jared Sandler!

The New York Times

Bookshelf: Baseball

By MARIA RUSSO    APRIL 28, 2016

The William Hoy Story
Written by Nancy Churnin. Illustrated by Jez Tuya.
This delightful and illuminating biography recounts the extraordinary life of William Hoy, who was born in Ohio in 1865 and went deaf at age 3 after a case of meningitis. William adored baseball, practicing constantly, and he had a big, loving family who supported him when he was asked to try out for a professional team. By the time his career was over, he had revolutionized the sport by suggesting to an umpire that he make calls — balls and strikes, out and safe — understandable to him by using American Sign Language, along with saying the words. An added benefit was that fans in the stands would be able to know the calls immediately. Soon players and managers, too, took William’s idea a step further, using signs to communicate plays to each other without revealing them to the other team.

Anyone who plays or watches baseball today will experience a jolt of recognition as Churnin explains the genesis of this small but central aspect of the game. She tells William’s story patiently and clearly, with a wonderfully matter-of-fact tone about the ways a deaf person navigates life. She strikes just the right balance between reporting the hardships and discrimination he faced — an owner who tried to underpay him, fellow players who laughed at and tricked him — and emphasizing the personal grit that allowed him to persevere and overcome daunting obstacles. Tuya’s simple digital illustrations are filled with feeling and individuality, neatly conveying motion and action but also, somehow, the dignity of William’s silence.

32 pp. Albert Whitman. $16.99. (Picture book; ages 4 to 8)




by daniel j. vance










































By: Daniel J. Vance, MS LPCC

What young Joshua had would have concerned any mother. What arose from their experience has benefited many people with disabilities.

Nancy Churnin is theater critic for the Dallas Morning News. In a telephone interview, she said, “My youngest child (Josh) was not speaking at age 3. The doctor thought it might be because of meningitis he had when younger. We didn't know how serious it was, but entered into the special needs community to get him therapy. It turned out (what he had) was a speech impairment and he was able to overcome it.”

During her three-year stretch involved with disability-affected families, and while believing her son had a disability, Churnin began re-thinking parenting and how society viewed the worth of children. For example, she said, “I learned to love children for who they were and not on what they accomplished. I saw that in the (special needs) parents and it made me a better parent.”

Though Joshua didn't have a disability, the Churnins stayed connected to the organizations and families they had grown to love. For instance, now at Austin College and playing varsity tennis, Joshua is a Special Olympics coach. His mom said, “I'm proud of his heart and feel the reason he connects so well in Special Olympics is because he realizes we're all the same (as people).”

As for Churnin, years ago she was critiquing a play, The Signal Season of Dummy Hoy. It's about the greatest-ever baseball player with a disability, Dummy Hoy, who many insiders believe should be in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. (This columnist included.) Hoy was deaf, played outfield in 1888-1902, and made the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame.

Blown away by Hoy's life story, Churnin began corresponding with Steve Sandy, a champion of the “Hoy for the Hall” movement. That correspondence led to a children's book authored by Churnin: The William Hoy Story: How a Deaf Baseball Player Changed the Game.

She said, “I hope it inspires kids to believe in themselves, not give up on their dreams, and have an open heart to others who are different. Hoy was told he was too small and couldn't hear. He not only found a way to play, but used his lack of hearing to make the game better.” Churnin desires to write other books that encourage children, and help parents and teachers see every child's potential.

Facebook: Disabilities by Daniel J. Vance. [Sponsored by Blue Valley Sod and Palmer Bus Service.]


from publisher's weekly

This rousing underdog story from newcomers Churnin and Tuya introduces William Hoy, who became a major-league baseball player in the 1880s, despite being left deaf from a childhood bout with meningitis. Though an early manager tried to take advantage of him, and teammates would hide their mouths so Hoy couldn’t read their lips, Hoy taught his teammates American Sign Language—symbols that Hoy eventually got umpires to use, too, and (possibly) helped pave the way for officiating gestures still in use. Tuya’s bright cartoons give a solid sense of the period, as well as Hoy’s pride, satisfaction—and some hurtful moments—on his way to becoming “king of center field.” An afterword provides additional details about Hoy’s life, personality, and influence. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Karen Grencik, Red Fox Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Charlie Bowden, Pickled Ink. (Mar.)