The Untold Journey of a Yankees Hero

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Pub Date Apr 01 2024 | Archive Date Mar 31 2024

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Waite “Schoolboy” Hoyt’s improbable baseball journey 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 hardscrabble Minor Leagues, he somehow ended up the best pitcher for the New York Yankees in the 1920s.

Based on a trove of Hoyt’s writings and interview transcripts, Tim Manners has reanimated the baseball legend’s untold story, entirely in Hoyt’s own words. Schoolboy dives straight into early twentieth-century America and the birth of modern-day baseball, as well as Hoyt’s defining conflict: Should he have pursued something more respectable than being the best pitcher on the 1927 New York Yankees, arguably the greatest baseball team of all time?

Over his twenty-three-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.

Hoyt shares his thoughts on famous moments in the golden age of baseball history; assesses baseball legends, including Ty Cobb, Stan Musial, and Pete Rose; and describes the strategies of baseball managers John McGraw, Miller Huggins, and Connie Mack. He writes at length about the art of pitching and how the game and its players changed—and didn’t—over his lifetime. After retiring from baseball at thirty-eight and coming to terms with his alcoholism, Hoyt found some happiness as a family man and a beloved, pioneering Cincinnati Reds radio sportscaster with a Websterian vocabulary spiked with a Brooklyn accent.

When Hoyt died in 1984 his foremost legacy may have been as a raconteur who punctuated his life story with awe-inspiring and jaw-dropping anecdotes. In Schoolboy he never flinches from an unsparing account of his remarkable and paradoxical eighty-four-year odyssey.

Waite “Schoolboy” Hoyt’s improbable baseball journey 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...

Advance Praise

“Guided by the deft hand of Tim Manners, Waite Hoyt shares rollicking stories and sharp insights from a Hall of Fame career fashioned at the dawning of a dynasty unrivaled in sports: the New York Yankees. 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.”—Tyler Kepner, baseball columnist for the New York Times and best-selling author of K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches

“From the trove of writings left behind by Hall of Fame pitcher Waite Hoyt, Tim Manners has woven together a warm, intensely candid, and very human story of the highest realms of success as well as the coldest moments of the ultimate realities. 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.”—Donald Honig, author of Baseball When the Grass Was Real

“What a great find to tell the story in Hoyt’s own words.”—David Maraniss, author of Path Lit by Lightning: The Life of Jim Thorpe

“Nearly forty years after his passing, baseball’s greatest storyteller finally tells his own story in his own words. From baseball to Vaudeville to broadcasting, and just about anything and everything in between, Waite Hoyt led baseball’s most unique and eclectic life. 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. . . . What a wonderful read!”—Lance McAlister, host of 700WLW Sports, Cincinnati

“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.”—George F. Will, author of Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball

“The Yankees famed ‘Murderer’s Row’ era wasn’t just about the power of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. There were Hall of Fame–bound pitchers on that great team as well, none more prominent than the colorful local star Waite Hoyt, whose life story continues to fascinate students of the game’s history.”—Marty Appel, Yankees historian and author of Pinstripe Empire

“Manners’s 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. This book will enhance Hoyt’s status as a baseball star, as well as a man.”—Alan D. Gaff, author of Lou Gehrig: The Lost Memoir

“A great read! Manners makes the Waite Hoyt story—especially ‘you-are-there’ material about Babe Ruth and other Yankee legends—spring to life.”—Rick Burton, David B. Falk Professor of Sport Management at Syracuse University

“An insider’s view of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, with intimate stories about Waite Hoyt’s life as a fifteen-year-old pro, his grand times with the 1927 Yankees, his twenty-four 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.”—John Erardi, author of Tony Pérez: From Cuba to Cooperstown

“Guided by the deft hand of Tim Manners, Waite Hoyt shares rollicking stories and sharp insights from a Hall of Fame career fashioned at the dawning of a dynasty unrivaled in sports: the New York...

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Featured Reviews

He passed away in 1984 and with the help from ghostwriter, Tim Manners, we get his story in his words as Tim was given access to Waite’s archives from his family.

I had no clue who Waite Hoyt was, but from the description on Netgalley, I was very intrigued.

He is a Hall of Famer, he won 3 World Series, and he played with Babe Ruth on the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. He was signed as a professional ball player by the New York Giants in 1915 when we just a high school junior. He persevered and had much success.

After he left the game, he became a radio broadcaster for the Cincinnati Reds.

I really enjoyed all the stories from his playing days and broadcasting days, and the book was a great read.

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This is a variation of an autobiography on that Tim Manners wrote the book use of the extensive notes and journals of Waite Hoyt who died in 1984. Hoyt is best known as a pitcher for the Yankees in the 1920s. The book itself focuses more on Hoyt himself rather than his baseball exploits, but they are sprinkled throughout. As a lifelong Yankees fan I found the book interesting, but would have liked to have read more about specific games he pitched. Overall a good book.

I received a free Kindle copy of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher with the understanding that I would post a review on Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon and my nonfiction book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook page.

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When given several totes filled with an unorganized collection of a lifetime of Waite Hoyt’s journals, letters, and mementos by Hoyt's son, Tim Manners felt compelled not only to sort through it all, but also to make a memoir out of it. I was intrigued by this premise: creating what amounts to a posthumous memoir of the great, but largely forgotten Yankee pitcher, a story told in his own words, thanks to his voluminous writings.
For the most part, Manners does a masterful job of organizing the tubs of information into an engaging narrative. In his own words, Hoyt comes across as an earnest product of a tight-knit family, that feared for his safety but nonetheless allowed him to pursue his dream of becoming a major league baseball pitcher at the tender age of 15. Over his career as a pitcher and play by play announcer, Hoyt developed a philosophical approach to the ups and downs of life. He was unflinchingly honest about his drinking problems, as well as his oversized ego, which led to many of his travails. But the admissions don’t weigh down the narrative at all.
My thanks to NetGalley and the publishers of this book for providing me with an ebook copy.
Being a baseball fan enhanced my enjoyment of this narrative. For instance, already knowing who John McGraw was, thanks to my reading of a biography of Jim Thorpe in which McGraw plays a role, it was interesting to read about the owner of the New York Giants’ dealings with Hoyt and the words of wisdom he passed along to the young pitcher.
It was also interesting to read about how unorganized the baseball minor leagues were, as compared to the highly organized Triple A, Double A, and Single A leagues of today. By far my favorite parts of the book were Hoyt’s remembrances of and observations about the legendary Yankee icons: Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
Hoyt’s second and third careers (broadcasting and painting) show that Hoyt was by no means a one-dimensional ballplayer. There are numerous funny anecdotes that liven the story up and move it along. Kudos to Manners for taking on such a monumental task. Hoyt’s own words bring the early 20th century era of major league baseball vividly to life and confirm that Hoyt certainly deserved his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969.
My thanks to Netgalley and the publishers of this book for providing me with an e-book copy.

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Tim Manners brings us an intriguing biography of Waite Hoyt taken from his personal notes. This book brings the lesser known Hall of Famer to light. From his start with John McGraw and the Giants, to his time with the Yankees to his second career as a broadcaster with the Reds, Hoyt tells many of the tales that got him to that point, From his immaturity as a husband and father to his battle with alcoholism, Hoyt doesn't hide from the challenges he faced throughout his life and career. He also has an excellent chapters on his relationship with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. I enjoyed the book from start to finish and it would be a welcome addition to any baseball fan's library.

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𝘚𝘤𝘩𝘰𝘰𝘭𝘣𝘰𝘺: 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘜𝘯𝘵𝘰𝘭𝘥 𝘚𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘢 𝘠𝘢𝘯𝘬𝘦𝘦𝘴 𝘏𝘦𝘳𝘰 is an incredibly unique and remarkable work of nonfiction. Officially the autobiography of Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Waite Hoyt, who died in 1984, it is more a showcase of the research skills and editing prowess of coauthor Tim Manners, who wrote the book 40 years after Hoyt’s passing without ever - as far as I can gather - meeting the man.

Manners crafts Hoyt’s autobiography (through writings and transcripts provided by Hoyt’s family), creating a narrative reminiscent of Lawrence Ritter’s 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘎𝘭𝘰𝘳𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘖𝘶𝘳 𝘛𝘪𝘮𝘦𝘴 with its first-person journey through early 20th century baseball. At the same time the book provides a candidness reserved for more modern autobiographies.

Manners does a fantastic job of allowing Hoyt’s voice to come through, including one of my favorite turns of phrase in the book: “The town of Lebanon evidently didn’t believe in our baseball prowess because they gave us a good lettin’ alone” (31).

On a personal note, there was a pleasant surprise when Waite spent a season with the Nashville Vols, playing at Sulphur Dell. My great-grandfather owned a semi-professional team (Patten Cats) and a ballpark (Patten Park) on the family farm in Lyles, Tennessee. The team occasionally played against the Vols both at Patten Park and at Sulphur Dell. The team didn’t exist when Waite was with the Vols, but kind of a fun little connection just for me.

Without a doubt this book is a recommend if you, like me, are a reader of baseball history and biography.

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