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A blind sportswriter Is Jesse’s ‘Hero of the Week’

Hal McCoy, a sportswriter who didn’t let his sudden onset of blindness keep him from his passion, was on Lester Holt Live as Jesse Ventura’s ‘Hero of the Week.’ Read about McCoy’s inspiring story of strength and perseverance.

Hal McCoy, a sportswriter who didn’t let his sudden onset of blindness keep him from his passion, was on ‘Lester Holt Live’ as Jesse Ventura’s ‘Hero of the Week.’

WHEN SPORTSWRITER Hal McCoy woke up one morning in January and realized he could no longer read the paper-let alone follow a baseball game-he thought his career covering the Cincinnati Reds for the Dayton Daily News was over.

Two years ago, McCoy suffered a stroke of the optic nerve in his right eye, causing him to become legally blind. And this past January, McCoy thought his fate was sealed when it happened in his left eye as well. “I got up the morning of January 23 and walked down the stairs. Everything was dark and blurry, and I tried to read the newspaper, and I just couldn’t do it. I said to my wife, ‘Honey, I think I’m done,’” McCoy told Ventura. But McCoy went on to say that his wife, his boss, and supporters across the country kept him going. “I walked into the clubhouse the first day and I looked around, and the faces were blurry, the place was dark. I didn’t recognize people I’ve recognized for 20 years. The third baseman Aaron Boone asked what was wrong with me, and I told him, ‘I’m done, I’m finished, I’m going home. I can’t do this job anymore.’ And he pointed to a chair and said, ‘Sit down, listen to me.’” Boone told McCoy that he couldn’t retire. “I simply said, ‘No, that’s not a good enough reason. You’re not quitting.’”

Now, with the help of a specially designed scorebook, a magnifying glass, and a TV monitor on his table to watch instant replays, McCoy tells Ventura he has no plans of walking away from the game. “I tell everybody I’m going to do this until my head hits the laptop, when I pass out in the press box. That’s how much I love this job.”

McCoy is liked and respected by players and writers alike, and will be inducted into the writers’ wing of the baseball Hall of Fame in July (it will be the first time he’s missed a Reds’ road game in 31 years). He is also the recipient of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for baseball writing.

“I would do any kind of interview, any kind of thing for Hal McCoy. It just means that much to me and to this organization,” says Sean Casey, who plays for the Cincinnati Reds. Ken Griffey, Jr., continues the praise: “I have a separated shoulder, but at the end of a day, I can still basically do what I want to do. And he can’t, so that’s the motivation that he gives us.”

Alison Ahearn contributed to this report.