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Baseball is more than a game. A new season is accompanied by feelings of hope and optimism – this’ll be our year. The renewal that’s inherent in springtime, along with the nostalgia of yesteryear. It brings us back to the time we fell in love with the game.


Perhaps trying to recapture that feeling, just about every year when Opening Day rolls around I turn to read a baseball book, nonfiction or novel. There are many great ones out there. “Eight Men Out” by Eliot Asinof, a page-turner on the infamous Black Sox scandal, is perhaps my favorite. Asinof reconstructed the twist and intrigue surrounding the 1919 World Series – which the Cincinnati Reds won, incidentally, though their victory shall always be tainted. Early 20th-century Cincinnati and Chicago come to life, when baseball was just becoming America’s pastime and ballplayers were more approachable.


Here are a couple baseball books on my shelf now.


‘Schoolboy: The Untold Journey of a Yankees Hero’ by Waite Hoyt with Tim Manners


Baseball Hall of Famer Waite Hoyt was a born storyteller. Longtime Reds fans may have grown up listening to Hoyt call Cincinnati games on the radio from 1942 to 1965. He was notable for calling games in the past tense – a habit he got from recreating the action of away games on the air from play-byplay reports sent over teletype. But it was the stories he told during rain delays about his playing days with the New York Yankees and his teammate, Babe Ruth, that folks remember. Surprisingly, Hoyt has another story to tell. His own. His new memoir, “Schoolboy,” comes out 40 years after his death on April 1.


The memoir was assembled by Tim Manners, who stitched together material from eight banker’s boxes full of notes, letters, interview transcripts and Hoyt’s own memoir attempts. He served as a ghostwriter using Hoyt’s own words.


“It was only right that someone revered as a master storyteller should be allowed to tell his own story as it had never been told before,” Manners wrote in the preface.

Hoyt was nicknamed “Schoolboy” when he signed a professional contract with the New York Giants as a 15-yearold high schooler. He earned his Hall of Fame credentials as the ace pitcher of the 1927 Yankees, considered perhaps

the best team of all time. Hoyt wrote of his

close friendship with Babe Ruth, but also the time the two came to blows in the locker room. Of pitching to Ty Cobb. Of getting to know teammate Lou Gehrig. But he also reveals a life beyond the baseball diamond.

How, when his salary playing ball wasn’t enough, he performed on vaudeville in the offseason. Or when, moonlighting as a mortician, he left a body in the trunk of his vehicle while going to pitch a game at Yankee Stadium. After his playing career, Hoyt transitioned to radio broadcasting. He was one of the first to do it.


In 1942, the Burger Brewing Co. hired him to call Cincinnati Reds games for WKRC. Listeners particularly loved when it rained. Hoyt had to fill airtime while play was suspended. So he dipped into his limitless supply of baseball stories. His most memorable was the day Babe Ruth died in 1948. After the game, Hoyt gave an impromptu eulogy on the



“There was no preparation, no script, no research,” Hoyt wrote. “I just raked through my memories and improvised For more than an hour and a half, sharing all I could recollect, sparing him nothing and still trying to give the man his full due. My sorrow and admiration were sincere, and no one took offense because I did not gloss over the rough spots. Indeed, this proved one of the most popular programs I ever offered and drew a warmer response than any

other I had ever received since arriving in Cincinnati.”


Hoyt also didn’t pull any punches about his battle with alcohol. In July 1945, he disappeared for three days on a

bender while people looked for him all over the city. His wife and the press spun his disappearance as “Waite’s amnesia.”

Babe Ruth sent him a wire: “I heard you had a case of amnesia. I never heard of that brand!”


But it was a serious problem. On the third day, Hoyt wound up at a seedy bar at the corner of Reading Road and

Broadway and had his last drink. He then called Good Samaritan Hospital. A man introduced him to Alcoholics

Anonymous, still a relatively unknown organization in 1945. He sobered up and became an advocate for AA, but

it was not really anonymous. He was too well known.


There was a lot more to Hoyt than his stories.

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