THE ACE PITCHER WHO
SPARKED THE YANKEES DYNASTY SHARES HIS STORY
IN HIS OWN WORDS
"What a great find to tell the story in
Waite Hoyt's own words." - David Maraniss
"Very few baseball biographies have the range of triumph and anguish, of poignance and redemption, as this self-told tale of the ace of the legendary 1927 Yankees.”
"Tim Manners painstakingly pieces together moments and memories to reveal fascinating insight into not just Hoyt, but also the times he lived in. Hoyt’s story needed to be told, and like his legendary rain delay stories, 'Schoolboy' makes it worth the wait."
“Manners takes us back to the days of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig — and well beyond — through the eyes of an early mound master whose story can finally be told.”
Two years ago, I was having dinner with Waite “Schoolboy” Hoyt’s son Chris and casually asked him why his Baseball Hall of Fame father, the ace pitcher of the legendary 1927 Yankees, had never published an autobiography. Before I knew it, eight banker’s boxes of Waite Hoyt’s notes, letters, interview transcripts, memoir attempts, and other recollections were sitting on my front porch.
As I began snapping the jigsaw pieces within those boxes into a narrative arc, it became clear that Waite Hoyt’s significance was more than that of a formerly famous pitcher whose fastball was every bit as vital to the birth of the New York Yankees dynasty as Babe Ruth’s and Lou Gehrig’s home runs.
It was a reflection of an entire era, the heart of 20th-century America, from a deeply introspective, complex and conflicted hero who deserved to be better remembered than he was. Most important, it imparted what he learned and wanted to share with others about his life’s choices and the paradox of his success.
More than anything else, Hoyt was in a knot over whether he should have done something else with his life – that is, something other than become the best pitcher on arguably the greatest baseball team of all time. Think about it: Just one percent of major-league baseball players are enshrined at Cooperstown, and yet Hoyt marked his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame by suggesting that he could have made the different career choice.
What was he thinking?
Hoyt’s never-told-before story began when the 1915 New York Giants signed him as a high-school junior for no pay and a five-dollar bonus. After nearly having both his hands amputated and cavorting with men twice his age in the tawdry, hardscrabble minor leagues, he somehow ended up as the ace pitcher of the legendary Yankees. Over his 23-year professional baseball career, Hoyt won 237 big-league games across 3,845-⅔ innings and one locker room brawl with Babe Ruth.
He also became a vaudeville star who swapped dirty jokes with Mae West and drank champagne with Al Capone, a philosophizer who bonded with Lou Gehrig over the meaning of life and a funeral director who left a body chilling in his trunk while pitching an afternoon game at Yankee Stadium. After retiring from baseball at 38, he found himself in Cincinnati as a beloved, pioneering radio sportscaster for 24 years and a commissioned oil painter.
When Waite Hoyt died in 1984, he left behind a trove of awe-inspiring and jaw-dropping anecdotes, from jumping the gates at Ebbets Field as a kid to bottoming out as an aging alcoholic in a seedy Cincinnati bar. Within these pages, Hoyt tells his story on and off the field, and parses its meaning in his own inimitable voice. Some of Hoyt’s vignettes are funny, many are poignant and others are tragic, but he never flinches from an unsparing account of his remarkable, and perplexingly paradoxical, 84-year odyssey.
George F. Will
“For baseball fans, the University of Nebraska Press is a perennial MVP—most valuable publisher. This biography shows why. Waite Hoyt, an underappreciated cog in a great Yankee machine, had a two-decade major league career that illuminates the game a century ago.”
"An insider’s view of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, with intimate stories about Waite Hoyt’s life as a 15-year-old pro, his grand times with the '27 Yankees, his 24 seasons in the Cincinnati Reds radio booth and, most revealingly, his showdown with alcohol. Full of honesty, intimacy and hard-knocks inspiration. I couldn’t put it down. "
Alan D. Gaff
“Manners’ skillfully edited and seamless narrative, compiled from Hall of Famer Waite Hoyt’s lifetime of memories, is a real baseball treasure. Success, failure, doubts, and achievements, in baseball and Hoyt's personal life, are all here in his own words.”