Monday, March 21, 2016
Waite Hoyt- The Conclusion
Hoyt was born just before the turn of the century...that would be from the 19th to the 20th. Although he was born in Brooklyn, he was signed by the Giants' John McGraw. He made his Major League debut on July 24, 1918. He was dubbed the “Schoolboy Wonder”, because he was so young.
He was sent to the minors, but came back quickly in a Red Sox uniform. Not long afterwards, he became a New York Yankee, and he remained with them for ten years. It was during that time that my friend Jim's wife was born. What a childhood she must have had!
She spent her days at Yankee Stadium, chatting with the legends. She remembered being carried around the diamond on the shoulders of another Hall of Famer, Lefty Gomez. Hoyt also had aspirations in the theatre, and often worked the vaudeville stage with the likes of Jack Benny, George Burns, Jimmy Durante, and Joe E. Brown, Jim Niccum's wife's godfather.
Joe E. Brown
Hoyt even worked as a mortician during his baseball career. Hence the nickname, “Merry Mortician”.
In one of his memoirs, Hoyt recalled that he rarely nursed a sore arm. After a day game in Philadelphia in 1926, he accompanied Babe Ruth, Joe Duggan, and Herb Pennock to attend a celebration for Pennock, a hometown hero in Kennett Square, about 25 miles from Philly. There were many wonderful booths at the fair. One in particular caught their attention.
There were pyramids of papier-mache milk bottles. The object of the exercise was to knock all of the bottles down with three throws to win a prize. Naturally, it was no challenge to the Major Leaguers. Then they were encouraged to back up a little, to throw more curves, to really outdo each other.
The next morning, Hoyt's elbow was three times its normal size. After weeks of rehabilitation, he was able to return to the starting lineup. Manager Miller Huggins was never informed about the activities at the fair.
Times were different, in those days, to say the least. Huggins had a phone in the dugout, and often called the bullpen just to keep the relievers on their toes. Even team owner Ed Barrow had a phone in his box. On a hot day, he noticed a player on a bench, apparently taking a snooze. Barrow roared at the player to sit up straight! “Get your feet on the ground!”
Not much chance of that happening today. There is major turmoil over the admittance of kids in the clubhouses.
After retiring from baseball, Hoyt went into broadcasting, and was at the mike for the Cincinnati Reds for 25 years. He was well known for spinning fine anecdotes during rain delays. (I made reference to this skill in a previous article about Duke Snider, who also spun a fine yarn!)
Hoyt died on August 24, 1984. A true baseball legend.
March 21, 2016.