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Cooperstown welcomes McCoy
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07/27/2003  7:50 PM ET 
Cooperstown welcomes McCoy
Reds beat writer delivers emotional acceptance speech
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From left to right: Dale Petrosky, Jane Forbes Clarke, Hal McCoy and BBWAA President Paul Hagen pose with the J.G. Taylor Spink award. (Ben Platt/MLB.com)
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Two years ago, Hal McCoy was covering a Reds game in St. Louis when a cloud came over his right eye. The long-time Reds beat writer for the Dayton Daily News figured the shadows would disappear in a day or two. They didn't.

When he returned home to Dayton, OH., his wife Nadine, picked him up at the airport and rushed him to the hospital. He had suffered an optical stroke in the eye and was told that the sight would never return.

"That was the bad news," McCoy said this weekend. "The good news was that the doctors told me there was only a 15-percent chance it would happen in my left eye."

But in January, the unthinkable happened. McCoy had a second optical stroke that has limited his vision in the left eye. He said his life is now a world of shadows. Sunday on the stage at the Clark Sports Center, as McCoy made a highly emotional acceptance speech, he said he couldn't see the crowd of 18,000 people and could barely read the words in front of him typed on a piece paper.

Hall of Fame 2003

Induction Ceremony
Sunday, July 27
Cooperstown, New York

The inductees
Gary Carter | Eddie Murray

Schedule of weekend events
Complete coverage

McCoy was honored with the Hall of Fame's J.G. Taylor Spink award voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America for his stellar career as a baseball writer. His 31 years on the beat in Dayton is the longest currently running of one writer covering the same team while working at the same paper.

After initial self-doubt, McCoy decided to overcome his disability and work the 2003 season. McCoy told the audience that the award "is not about me. It was never about me."

"This is about Reds third baseman Aaron Boone who took me aside the first day of Spring Training and telling me he didn't want to hear the word quit," he said. "That my problem is not a good enough reason to toss it all away. This is about a baseball player who cared about a baseball writer.

"This is about a group of hard-working, dedicated guys who love their jobs as much as I do -- the baseball writers -- who do what they do because they love it and I discovered guys who love each other. Guys who gave me the support I needed to continue, the guys who put me here today when they all should be here.


"This is about Reds third baseman Aaron Boone who took me aside the first day of Spring Training and telling me he didn't want to hear the word quit. That my problem is not a good enough reason to toss it all away. This is about a baseball player who cared about a baseball writer."
-- Hal McCoy

"This is about a group of Hall of Famers seated on this stage, who worked with a young writer in the 1970s to make sure he had something good to write about. This is about Tony Perez, Sparky Anderson and Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan."

"Especially, this is about the most important person in my life, my wife Nadine. She doesn't like me to say this, but she is my solid rock, my 9-1-1. She has become my guardian angel. She pushed me hard when I wanted to quit and she always listened to my sobs and frustrations when things didn't go right. A man could ask for a better friend, a better companion and a better wife, but he wouldn't find her. Fortunately, I did."

McCoy has been aided this year by newspaper clerks, who he said drive him 90 minutes from Dayton to the ballpark in Cincinnati each day the team is at home. His toughest time is trying to navigate through airports. He has no peripheral vision, he said.

As he watches a game from the press box, the ball disappears if it is hit to the outfield.

"I've learned to watch the way the batter turns his head to see what direction the ball is hit," he said. "You use your instincts. It's amazing how much you've learned in 30 years of covering this game."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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