by Harold Friend
Waite Hoyt won 22 games for the 1927 New York Yankees. Hoyt spent 10 seasons with the Yankees, winning 157 games before being sent to Detroit in 1930.
Although he played for many teams, including the three New York teams, Hoyt was a Yankee.
The Cocky Chicago Cubs
In 1938, Waite was pitching for the Brooklyn Dodgers against the soon-to-be National League champion Chicago Cubs. The Little Bears were a cocky team, and many of their players were riding Hoyt, who was near the end of his career.
Bench jockeying had been an integral part of baseball until the recent attempts at political correctness, but the Cubs' needling reached a level of nastiness that was unacceptable, even then. Hoyt, of course, knew how to handle it.
Waite called time out (In those days, players called time, unlike today, when a player requests time out and the umpire must grant it). He walked over to the Chicago dugout, gave the players a look of contempt, and spoke with a strong, confident voice.
"If you guys don't shut up, I'll put on my old Yankee uniform and scare you to death."
There was no more needling.
The 1927 New York Yankees
There is little doubt that the 1927 Yankees were one of the greatest of all teams. Babe Ruth set the single season home run record that now belongs to Roger Maris, Lou Gehrig batted .373, slugged .765, and incredibly, sacrificed successfully 21 times, and the team won 110 games while losing only 44.
Hoyt always enjoyed recalling some of the events the day that Babe Ruth hit his 60th home run.
"In the clubhouse that day, no one even thought much of the prospect, except the Babe himself. 'Anyone wanna bet me I don't hit one today?'"
Tony Lazzeri took the bet and lost.
"No one pulled for the Babe or gave a damn, except for the Babe himself. There was no record to break except his own, no inspiration from newspapers or fans, no excitement at all."
Hoyt pointed out that Ruth could have hit more than 714 home runs if he had hit the lively ball, which was introduced in an attempt to distract fans from the 1919 White Sox scandal, his entire career, and if he hadn't been a pitcher the first four and one-half years he was in the majors..
An interesting point Hoyt made was "Ruth never was forced to step up his homer production because it was someone else's record he had to break."
Hoyt Defended Babe Ruth
The perceptive Hoyt, in the days before statistics ruled the game, defended Ruth against other sluggers the day that Mickey Mantle hit his 500th home run.
"I think the best approach is this: How many homers have the batters averaged per time at bat? I'll grant you that Ted Williams and Willie Mays went into the service, and that Mickey Mantle's legs have been bad,
The Babe hit a home run every 11.7 at bats. Mantle and Williams hit one every 14.6 at bats, and Mays hit one every 15 at bats."
Waite Hoyt died in 1984. It is not difficult to predict what he would have thought of Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa.
By ARTHUR DALEY. (1967, June 4). Sports of the Times :An Old Yankee Speaks. New York Times (1923-Current file),S2. Retrieved March 26, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 90350808).By ARTHUR DALEY. (1967, June 4).