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Within the past 20 years the foundation has bestowed on the deserving more than 2,000 trophies, more than 10,000 medals and more than 20,000 scrolls. The number of banquets and parties and beefsteaks it has given in celebration would stagger the imagination and the digestive system. Men who died long before the foundation was founded have been posthumously honored, and so have thousands of hardy striplings just starting to shave. President Theodore Roosevelt is a Helms awardee, together with the Flying Wheels of Long Beach, Calif., a team of paraplegic veterans who last year won the National Wheelchair Basketball Championship.
The awardees are chosen by a board consisting of Paul H. Helms, chairman; Paul H. Helms Jr., director; secretary and managing director of the foundation, W. R. (Bill) Schroeder; six local sports editors: George T. Davis (Herald and Express), Robert Myers (A.P.), Rube Samuelsen (Pasadena Star-News), Sid Ziff (Mirror-News), Paul Zimmerman (Times), Ben Woolbert (Examiner); and Al Santoro, well-known veteran L.A. sportswriter. The board members meet quarterly and are paid meeting-attendance fees which are thrown into a kitty and used to take care of such emergencies as a hard-up left tackle's wife having a baby. Two interservice football games staged by the board raised $150,000 for war charities.
Per capita, this board must be the awardingest parcel of men ever gathered together. They pick a Southern California Athlete of the Month (amateur or professional) and a Southern California Athlete of the Year. At the end of every football, basketball, baseball and track season they choose all-high school teams not only for the city of Los Angeles but for the California Scholastic Federation, Southern Division, which embraces something like 250 schools. In each of those four sports they also pick a scholastic Athlete of the Year. All selections are, of course, suitably awarded.
Cooperstown, N.Y. has its Baseball Hall of Fame, and Rutgers University has organized one for intercollegiate football. The Helms Foundation has halls of fame not only for all major sports but also for auto racing, volleyball, swimming and aeronautical soaring, and the board is continually electing new members to them all. Among those elected to its Professional Football Hall of Fame were Greasy Neale, Alexander Francis Wojciechowicz and Al Nesser, who played in the line for more than 30 years without headgear or shoulder pads.
In 1954 the' board's secretary, Bill Schroeder, headed up a program to ballot some 3,700 sports experts of the press, radio and TV to select an All-Time U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team. When the returns were in, all the living selectees accepted invitations to a huge banquet in their honor except Louis Tewanema, the Carlisle Indian School runner who took second in the 10,000-meter event at Stockholm in 1912.
In the world of sport there had been no word of Louis Tewanema for ages, yet nobody could remember hearing of his death; the nation's newspaper morgues were vainly searched for his obituary. Finally, however, one of Bill's most tenacious bush-beaters, Phoenix Sportscaster Bill Close, found Louis in Shimopavy, a remote Hopi village on Second Mesa in eastern Arizona. Louis hadn't had on a suit of store clothes in decades and he had forgotten nearly all his English; but he went to the banquet in full Indian regalia and made a big hit.
The board's pinnacle pick every year is for the Helms World Trophy, which is made of gold, silver and bronze, stands nearly eight feet high with its three-step marble base, has a large banner-draped room all to itself and is valued at $10,000. On it are inscribed the six foremost amateur athletes in the world whom the board annually selects, one from each continent.
Last year miler S�ndor Iharos of Hungary and Pat McCormick, the pretty Olympic diving champion, were chosen as the foremost amateurs of Europe and North America respectively. The Australasian, European and North American selections run back to 1896; the South American, Asian and African commenced in 1920. When you read on this trophy names like Ragnhild Hveger, Viljo Heino, Yun Bok Suh, Hironoshin Furuhashi, Khadr El Touni, K. D. (Babu) Singh and Thiam Papa Gallo, you realize that the Helms Foundation's interest in athletics and athletes certainly isn't parochial.
Its most interested member, Paul Hoy Helms, was born 67 years ago in Ottawa, Kans., the son of a poor Methodist clergyman. When his mother died during his childhood and his father became too ill to work at his profession, the boy was sent to Buffalo, N.Y. to live with his maternal uncle, William Ellsworth Hoy. Hoy was a deaf mute who was married to a deaf mute.
He was also a professional baseball player. Known as Dummy Hoy, he played 14 years of big league baseball, from 1888 to 1902, notably with the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago White Sox, batting consistently around .300 and shining as a base-stealer. He was a sensational outfielder; although he could not hear the crack of the bat, he had an uncanny gift for sensing where the ball was heading and made many a circus catch. The practice of the umpire's raising his right hand to indicate a called strike was originated for Hoy's benefit. Still alive at 91, Mr. Hoy still walks with a springy step in Cincinnati, where he lives with his son, who is judge of the Hamilton County Common Pleas Court there.