Guest post by Nancy Churnin, author of The William Hoy Story

A dream can change your life.

It doesn’t even have start out as your dream. But if you let the dream into your heart, you can make it your own. That’s when amazing things start to happen.

In 2003 I found out about Steve Sandy’s dream to get William Hoy in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Steve, like William Hoy, is Deaf. Steve told me how much it would mean to him and other members of the Deaf community for William Hoy to be honored there.

The more I learned about William Hoy, about what this amazing player who was born when Abraham Lincoln was president, what an honest and hard-working person he was and how he taught umpires the signs for safe, out, ball and strike so he could play the game he loved, the more I realized he was deserving of this honor. But how could I help?

I thought if I write a children’s book about William Hoy, the kids will help by writing letters to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

A promise kept

It took me more than a decade to learn how to write my first children’s book, but I couldn’t give up. I had made a promise. I had to keep it!

The William Hoy Story came out in 2016, and kids have written more than 1,000 letters asking to include Hoy in the Hall of Fame. (If your children want to send a letter, they should address it to James L. Gates Jr., Library Director/National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum/25 Main Street/Cooperstown, NY 13326.)

Here’s the truly thrilling thing. The letters ARE making a difference! William Hoy was selected as the most Overlooked 19th Century Baseball Legend for 2018 by the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) on June 23 at the Nineteenth Century Committee’s annual business meeting held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

This is an important vote. Officials consider this vote when it comes time to have the official vote about which 19th Century player deserves to be inducted in 2020. But the big vote is still two years away. So everywhere I go, I ask kids to keep those letters coming.

Here’s the article about the SABR vote.

And here’s my Hoy for the Hall page where I’m posting some of the letters kids have written.

The journey to the Baseball Hall of Fame

The William Hoy Story started a wonderful journey for me. The book is on multiple state reading lists and has received amazing accolades and reviews. I have since sold six picture book biographies about people who inspire me that I hope will inspire you. But I will never forget that William Hoy started it all for me. I will never forget that it was because I wanted to make someone else’s dream come true, I ended up making my own dream come true — a dream to write books for children — a dream I didn’t even realize I had.

One of the most inspiring things to me about William Hoy is that William was proud of being a Deaf man. One of most important messages I tried to convey in The William Hoy Story is that William’s difference – his Deafness – was his gift. It was because he was Deaf that he knew sign language. By introducing sign language to baseball, he made the game better for everyone.

I have traveled the country telling William’s story, from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown to the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum (where he is in their Hall of Fame). I am very grateful to Charlotte Riggle for encouraging me to share William Hoy’s story with you. I hope you will be as inspired by William’s story as I have been. I hope you will write letters to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on his behalf. Together we can make a difference. I look forward to the day that we can journey to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and see him honored there.

Accolades for The William Hoy Story

Nancy Churnin’s book, The William Hoy Story: How a Deaf Baseball Player Changed the Game, has received the following honors and awards:

Winner – 2017 Storytelling World Resource Award Honor Book

Finalist – 2017 North Texas Book Festival Best Children’s Books

2016 New York Public Library Best Books for Kids

2017 Texas 2×2 Reading List

2017 Texas Topaz Nonfiction Reading List

2017 Best Children’s Books of the Year, Bank Street College

2017-2018 Kennebec Valley Book Award Books

2018 Illinois Monarch Award Master List

2018 Connecticut’s Charter Oak Book Awards

2018-2019 Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice awards

Resources to use with The William Hoy Story

Loads of resources are available to help you use The William Hoy Story in your classroom or homeschool. You can start with the book trailer for The William Hoy Story.

Crossroads, an association supporting Deaf education in Texas, provides a variety of classroom resources, including an interview with Nancy Churnin that is translated into ASL, and an ASL reading of her book. And primary sources related to William Hoy are available from the TPS Teacher’s Network.

When you use this link to get a copy of The William Hoy Story, I’ll receive a small commission that helps support this website.

Read More

The William Hoy Story: A baseball biography: Read my review of Nancy Churnin’s biography of William Hoy.

Dad, Jackie Robinson, and Me: More than a baseball story: Jackie Robinson has just joined the Brooklyn Dodgers. A young man and his Deaf father are Jackie’s biggest fans.

14 picture books with disabled characters: If you want picture books that feature engaging stories and compelling characters who have disabilities, start with this list.

Charlotte Riggle, author of Catherine's Pascha and The Saint Nicholas Day Snow
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