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  • Writer's pictureTim Manners

Ruth, Gehrig & Hoyt: The Power Trio

Updated: Nov 2, 2023

Their personal and athletic chemistry was the blueprint of the Yankees Dynasty

(Left to right: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Waite Hoyt)

Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig certainly are better remembered than Waite “Schoolboy” Hoyt, whom some will argue doesn’t belong in a triplet with the other two. They are mistaken. While Ruth and Gehrig dazzled with home-run heroics that ran up the score, Hoyt ruthlessly held down runs from the other side.

They needed each other to win.

This is not to discount invaluable contributions from the rest of the greatest baseball team of all time. Rather, it underscores that the power hitting and pitching combination as delivered by Ruth, Gehrig & Hoyt in 1927 was effectively the “proof of concept” that defined the New York Yankees dynasty for decades to come.

The way the three men collaborated on the field was really only one part of their story, though. Their personal relationships may not be as relevant to baseball history but they were equal parts complicated and touching, and most of all human. They speak to the chemistry that manifested itself on the field.

Waite Hoyt first encountered Babe Ruth from the stands at Fenway Park. Hoyt was in the minors at the time and Ruth was pitching for the Red Sox. “Schoolboy” was not terribly impressed with Ruth or his team. A few years later Hoyt was himself signed to the Sox before the Babe was traded, and a couple of years after that joined Ruth on the Yankees.

Certain folklore has it that the two were best friends, and even roommates. Neither was true. As Hoyt himself said, nobody ever actually roomed with Ruth, just with his suitcase because he was always someplace else. The two were friends of a sort, but it was a camaraderie punctuated by a locker room fistfight and a two-year feud over issues Hoyt never completely understood (although it may have had something to do with dating the same showgirl).

When Hoyt was traded from the Yankees in 1929, Ruth shook his hand goodbye and said, “Take care, Walter.” This probably said more about Ruth’s inability to remember names than their friendship, but either way Hoyt saw the humor in it. In later years, Hoyt became a staunch defender of Babe Ruth’s legacy in interviews, speeches and even a short book. The day Ruth died, Hoyt delivered a nearly two-hour, extemporaneous radio tribute and was a pallbearer at his funeral.

The Hoyt-Gehrig friendship was quite different. Unlike Ruth, Gehrig was younger and at first struck Hoyt as immature, a mama’s boy. While his prowess at the plate impressed Hoyt and everyone else, he seemed weak in many ways, even crying when he felt had let down his team. Gehrig’s Ivy League pedigree also rankled because while Hoyt had dreamed of attending college (Princeton, to be exact), he went straight from his junior year in high school to professional baseball, never graduating.

It wasn’t until years later, after Hoyt was no longer a Yankee, that the two re-connected at a skating rink at Rye Playland. Coincidentally, the two enjoyed working out on skates and for the first time had heart-to-heart conversations about their philosophies of life.

Hoyt came to appreciate Gehrig’s many personal qualities, especially his sense of gratitude, which Hoyt seemed to try to emulate in his later years. In many ways, he saw Gehrig’s character as the inverse of his own, and as something to which he aspired.

As an triumvirate, it may not resonate quite like Crosby, Stills & Nash, or even Groucho, Chico & Harpo, but the power trio at the center of the immortal 1927 New York Yankees – Ruth, Gehrig & Hoyt – certainly deserves more currency than it receives.


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