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Waite Hoyt, star pitcher for the New York Giants and Yankees, known for his clutch pitching, analytical intelligence, and his off-season job at a mortuary.

Early Years

Waite Charles Hoyt was born September 9, 1899 in Brooklyn. He spent countless hours at the Polo Grounds, talking to the players and occasionally acting as a ballboy. When he was 15, he got a job throwing batting practice to the players; manager John McGraw was so impressed with Hoyt's curveball that he signed him on the spot, earning him the nickname "Schoolboy." Three years later, Hoyt made his debut with the Giants, striking out 2 to close out the game with a victory.

Finding A Home

After Hoyt's minor stint with the Giants, he was traded rather quickly to the Boston Red Sox. He spent 2 mediocre seasons with the Sox before he was traded away in the Frazee fire sale of 1920 to the Yankees.

Hoyt quickly settled back in New York, and as a starter went 19-13 with a 3.09 ERA. He stayed with the Yankees throughout the 1920s, serving as their workhorse both as a starter and a reliever. He won 6 of their 18 World Series games during the Roaring Twenties and helped them capture 6 pennants and 3 World Series titles over the span. In his seminal year of 1928, Hoyt not only won 23 games, but also saved 8 games - becoming one of the first closers in baseball.

When Hoyt wasn't playing baseball, he was doing vaudeville gigs across town - he was known for having a lovely baritone - and working as an undertaker in Brooklyn. For this, he was given the nickname "The Merry Mortician."

In 1930, after a rather bland season, Hoyt was shipped off to the Detroit Tigers. By now, Hoyt appeared to be on the decline. He was moved around again and again, from the Athletics to the Dodgers, and even back to the Giants for a brief jaunt in 1932. In 1933 he signed as a free agent with the Pittsburgh Pirates. At 33, he was primarily a bench coach for the team, but to prove he still had it, he went 15-6 in 1934 with 105 strikeouts, his highest single-season total ever. After 3 more average seasons with the Pirates, he was traded in 1937 back to the Dodgers, where he retired after another unproductive season in 1938.

After Baseball

Upon Hoyt's retirement, he continued his successful undertaker's business for a few years before becoming a color broadcaster for the Cincinnati Reds in 1940. He stayed at the job for over 24 years, and still referred to himself as "Schoolboy" on the air.

Despite the vaudeville and the undertaker and even the broadcasting, perhaps Hoyt's most famous moment occurred while he was serving as an honorary pallbearer for Babe Ruth in 1948. It was a terribly hot day, and teammate Joe Dugan turned to Hoyt and said, "I would give anything for a beer." To which Hoyt replied, "So would the Babe." Hoyt later wrote a book about his friend called Babe Ruth As I Knew Him.

Waite Hoyt passed away August 25, 1984 in Cincinnati, Ohio, just 2 weeks short of his 85th birthday.

Career Statistics

 YEAR   TEAM   W   L   G   GS CG SHO SV     IP    H   ER  HR   BB   SO   ERA
 1918 NYG NL   0   0   1   0   0   0  0    1.0    0    0   0    0    2  0.00
 1919 BOS AL   4   6  13  11   6   1  0  105.3   99   38   1   22   28  3.25
 1920 BOS AL   6   6  22  11   6   2  1  121.3  123   59   2   47   45  4.38
 1921 NYY AL  19  13  43  32  21   1  3  282.3  301   97   3   81  102  3.09
 1922 NYY AL  19  12  37  31  17   3  0  265.0  271  101  13   76   95  3.43
 1923 NYY AL  17   9  37  28  19   1  1  238.7  227   80   9   66   60  3.02
 1924 NYY AL  18  13  46  32  14   2  4  247.0  295  104   8   76   71  3.79
 1925 NYY AL  11  14  46  30  17   1  6  243.0  283  108  14   78   86  4.00
 1926 NYY AL  16  12  40  28  12   1  4  217.7  224   93   4   62   79  3.85
 1927 NYY AL  22   7  36  32  23   3  1  256.3  242   75  10   54   86  2.63
 1928 NYY AL  23   7  42  31  19   3  8  273.0  279  102  16   60   67  3.36
 1929 NYY AL  10   9  30  25  12   0  1  201.7  219   95   9   69   57  4.24
 1930 NYY AL   2   2   8   7   2   0  0   47.7   64   24   7    9   10  4.53
      DET AL   9   8  26  20   8   1  4  135.7  176   72   7   47   25  4.78
      TOT AL  11  10  34  27  10   1  4  183.3  240   96  14   56   35  4.71
 1931 DET AL   3   8  16  12   5   0  0   92.0  124   60   2   32   10  5.87
      PHA AL  10   5  16  14   9   2  0  111.0  130   52   9   37   30  4.22
      TOT AL  13  13  32  26  14   2  0  203.0  254  112  11   69   40  4.96
 1932 BRO NL   1   3   8   4   0   0  1   26.7   38   23   3   12    7  7.76
      NYG NL   5   7  18  12   3   0  0   97.3  103   37   6   25   29  3.42
      TOT NL   6  10  26  16   3   0  1  124.0  141   60   9   37   36  4.35
 1933 PIT NL   5   7  36   8   4   1  4  117.0  118   38   3   19   44  2.92
 1934 PIT NL  15   6  48  15   8   3  5  190.7  184   62   6   43  105  2.93
 1935 PIT NL   7  11  39  11   5   0  6  164.0  187   62   8   27   63  3.40
 1936 PIT NL   7   5  22   9   6   0  1  116.7  115   35   5   20   37  2.70
 1937 PIT NL   1   2  11   0   0   0  2   28.0   31   14   3    6   21  4.50
      BRO NL   7   7  27  19  10   1  0  167.0  180   60   5   30   44  3.23
      TOT NL   8   9  38  19  10   1  2  195.0  211   74   8   36   65  3.41
 1938 BRO NL   0   3   6   1   0   0  0   16.3   24    9   1    5    3  4.96
 CAREER      237 182 674 423 226  26 52 3762.3 4037 1500 154 1003 1206  3.59
* Bold indicates led league.

Sources

  • http://www.baseball-reference.com/h/hoytwa01.shtml
  • http://www.baseballhalloffame.org/hofers_and_honorees/hofer_bios/hoyt_waite.htm

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