Who introduced the signals for ball and strike, safe and out in baseball?
William Klem, an umpire who took credit for creating the signs for strikes and balls in 1906, a practice that became standard in 1909, was inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1953 for changing the game of baseball with that brilliant addition to the game of baseball.
But did he deserve the credit? On August 20, 2019, the Major League Baseball Umpire Association itself called this claim into question (https://mlbua.com/press-single?id=134).
It turns out that there was another umpire, Francis O’Loughlin, who had used hand signals during that very same 1906 season. But here’s the kicker. In a Washington Post article from that time, after spraining his voice, O’Loughlin “employed [William] Hoy’s mute signal code.”
William Hoy’s mute signal code? That’s right. William Hoy, a Deaf player who started his 14-year major league career in 1888, had taught umpires signals, including American Sign Language gestures for safe and out, so he could play the game he loved. Local newspapers covering Hoy’s games described and at times sketched how he would watch his third base coach hold up his right arm for a strike and his left for a ball after each pitch.
Now, even William Hoy fans don’t claim he was the first to use hand signals, mainly because he wasn’t the first Deaf player in baseball. That honor goes to Ed Dundon, a pitcher who used hand signals both as a player from 1883-1884, followed by pitcher Tom Lynch, who played one season in 1884.
But while Hoy was the third Deaf player in professional baseball, his career was longer and encompassed eight teams in four leagues (the now defunct Players’ League and American Association as well as the ongoing National League and the American League). That’s a lot of umpires and players who would have observed the use of Hoy’s hand signals.
Why is it important to give credit where it is due? For many in the Deaf community, Hoy brings pride as someone who didn’t “overcome” a challenge of being Deaf, but used the gift of being Deaf to change the game of baseball for the better. To overlook the contributions of Deaf players to baseball feels, to many, like giving white musicians credit for playing the jazz that Black artists created. Today, Steve Sandy, a Deaf historian and friend of the Hoy family, continues a campaign to get Hoy inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, where he would be the first Deaf player honored there.
Steve Sandy is acknowledged as a key resource source for The William Hoy Story, How a Deaf Baseball Player Changed the Game (illustrated by Jez Tuya, Albert Whitman & Company) and the co-writer and co-producer of an independent film about Hoy called The Silent Natural. If you’d like to help his efforts, visit the Hoy for the Hall page on nancychurnin.com for the address of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and write a letter on his behalf.
Learn more about William Hoy in The William Hoy Story, How a Deaf Baseball Player Changed the Game by Nancy Churnin, illustrated by Jez Tuya (Albert Whitman & Company). Check out the resources, including video of the real William Hoy, a free teacher guide and Readers Theater play, the Hoy for the Hall project and more.
The United States Constitution includes two oaths of office. The first, and better known one, is the presidential oath in Article Two, which reads, "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." Why does it include “affirm” in parentheses? Because the Framers understood that an incoming president might object to “swearing,” which could indicate an oath before God. This might also explain why the Constitution does not add “so help me God” at the end, although most modern oath-takers do so.
The second oath, in Article Six, similarly requires all national and state officials to “be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution.”
Why are these provisions important? One answer is that our 18th-century forbears deeply believed in the magnitude of swearing oaths before God: violating an oath, after all, might lead to Divine, as well as secular, wrath.
Furthermore, note that allegiance is sworn to the federal Constitution. Before the Revolution, colonial officials swore fealty to the king. Afterward, but before the Constitution was ratified in 1788, state legislatures required members to swear loyalty to their particular state. As John Adams had said, “Massachusetts is our country.” The Framers debated which of these to follow—state or federal—and even whether to require oaths altogether. James Wilson of Pennsylvania argued that they were unnecessary because “a good government did not need them and a bad one…ought not to be supported.”[i] Requiring allegiance to the federal government was a major step.
But there is another crucial question: Can we tell when someone is, or is not, obeying the oath? What does it mean, “to the best of my ability, [to] preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States?” Donald Trump was impeached twice by the House of Representatives. Did he live up to the terms of his oath or not? How do we decide?
Presidents will always insist that they complied with the oath. Office-holders as varied as Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt, among others argued that they had the power to interpret the Constitution to do what they believed counted as preserving, protecting and defending it. Other people say the Supreme Court is the “ultimate interpreter” and presidents must abide by the justices’ rulings. The South African Constitution, for example, makes it clear that that country’s Constitutional Court takes precedence over any contrary assertions by the President. Would you support that?
Many of the political issues we struggle with today have their roots in the US Constitution. Husband-and-wife team Cynthia and Sanford Levinson take readers back to the creation of this historic document and discuss how contemporary problems were first introduced―then they offer possible solutions.
"A fascinating, thoughtful, and provocative look at what in the Constitution keeps the United States from being “a more perfect union.” " Kirkus Reviews - Best Middle Grade Nonfiction of 2017
It is a confusing and frustrating time to be an American. And being an American youth is the most confusing role of all. In the four years of the 45th president’s term, our democracy was gradually taken from us even as the thieves absconding with it called themselves “patriots.” A patriot does not seek to undermine their country’s Constitution.
This all came to a head when number forty-five directed his followers to storm the Capitol. They compared themselves to our founders.
Our founders built our government. Forty-five and his minions sought to demolish it.
The people who stormed the Capitol are traitors, trying to upend a democratic election. What really motivated these people, and all the people who support number forty-five?
The answer is hate. Number forty-five promoted hate from the moment he took office. It’s like when Voldemort took over in Harry Potter.
But this vile man did not invent greed and hate. These things have festered in America since it was founded. Number forty-five made it safe for too many of our citizens to reveal themselves in a way that shocks us—but it should not surprise us.
Our country was flawed from the start. We stole land from indigenous Americans and slaughtered them. We kidnapped human beings from Africa and enslaved them. We denied women the right to vote.
Thomas Jefferson, primary author of The Declaration of Independence, enslaved over 600 human beings during his life—some his own children.
We have continually dehumanized and tortured people. Look at George Floyd. Look at the children in cages at our borders. Hate has been continually cooked on the stove of American culture. Every time it has come to a boil, we’ve lowered the heat, but we have not extinguished the flame. What will we do this time?
There is no stolen election. That lie that was propagated by a narcissistic leader who could not admit his own defeat. Now we have a new leader, but the country is torn apart. It will take much work to mend what’s broken—not just stick a bandage over it.
Study history so you can learn about humanity—flaws and all. Be aware of what came before so that you can positively impact what comes next.
The power to banish hate in America rests in your hearts and hands. Love trumps hate.
Selene Castrovilla is an award-winning, acclaimed author of five books on the American Revolution for young readers, including The Founding Mothers of the United States (Scholastic) and Revolutionary Friends: General George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette (Calkins Creek Books). Her upcoming books include The Civil Rights Movement: 1960 (Scholastic, 2021), Seeking Freedom: The Untold Story of Fortress Monroe and the End of Slavery in America, illustrated by E. B. Lewis (Calkins Creek Books, 2022) and Boy Meets Groove: Savion Glover Finds His Funk, illustrated by Laura Freeman (Holiday House, 2022). Selene has been a meticulous researcher of American history since 2003. A frequent speaker about our nation's evolution, she is equally comfortable with audiences of children and adults. Please visit: selenecastrovilla.com.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the lives of Japanese Americans instantly changed.
As the US declared war on Japan, public scrutiny focused on the 120,000 Japanese Americans living along the Pacific Ocean. Would they help Japan if it attempted an invasion of the coast? A hateful, racist anti-Japanese American campaign swept the nation, and the government decided that for “public safety” Japanese Americans must be isolated in “internment” camps.
With little warning, the roundups began. They were forced to sell their homes and possessions for whatever they could get and to give away their pets. They were allowed just two suitcases each as they boarded trains and buses to over-crowded assembly centers, where they waited for months in primitive conditions until the ten permanent camps were ready.
Those camps were in isolated, inhospitable locations where the internees lived behind barbed wire, guarded by armed soldiers. Each family was assigned one room in a flimsy wooden barrack furnished only with iron cots. Everyone waited in long lines to use the restrooms and to eat. The children attended schools that were started in the camps. But jobs were scarce and adults had little to do.
While they could have sunk into despair, nearly all Japanese Americans wanted America to win the war, and if their confinement helped the war effort, they decided to cooperate and make the best of it. To stay busy they organized scout troops and baseball teams. They hosted talent contests, movie nights, dances, festivals, and celebrations. They started newspapers, libraries, poetry clubs, choirs, bands and orchestras. They took up woodworking and sewing and planted Victory Gardens. In some camps internees were allowed to grow crops to supplement their government surplus food.
Each morning they saluted the flag and said the Pledge of Allegiance. Many participated in Red Cross blood drives and knitted socks and scarves to send to soldiers. The young men from the camps who served in the war distinguished themselves with their bravery and helped ensure an Allied victory.
After the war, Japanese Americans began the difficult task of rebuilding their lives. Many had lost all their belongings and could not find jobs. Worst of all was the shame they felt over their country’s distrust of them. But they had proved their loyalty. And in spite of this terrible injustice, they raised their children to be good Americans.
Andrea Warren is the author of nine books of nonfiction for young readers and young adult readers. Each centers on young people who have faced grave challenges in difficult periods of history. Her latest, Enemy Child: The Story of Norman Mineta, a Boy Imprisoned in a Japanese American Internment Camp During World War II, published by Holiday House, received starred reviews in School Library Journal and The Horn Book. It was selected as a 2019 Best Book by School Library Journal and is the recipient of the Bank Street College best nonfiction award. It has also has been honored by the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Warren is a previous winner of the Horn Book Award and the Sibert Honor Award. You can read Vicki Cobb's review here.
For Vicki Cobb's BLOG (nonfiction book reviews, info on education, more), click here: Vicki's Blog
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