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by Harold Friend
Waite Hoyt replaced Babe Ruth when the Babe left Boston’s starting rotation to play the outfield full-time. Hoyt had pitched one game for the New York Giants in 1918 and then joined the Red Sox the following season. In December 1920, Waite Hoyt was sent to the Yankees in a multi-player deal. With the Yankees, Hoyt became a top starter, winning 19 games in both 1921 and 1922, but after losing the World Series to the Giants each of those seasons, the Yankees were looking to make changes.
Hoyt Becomes Expendable
On January 23, 1923, they acquired lefty Herb Pennock from the Red Sox, which made Waite Hoyt expendable. The trade put fourteen former Yankees on the Red Sox’ roster and eleven former Red Sox on the Yankees’ roster. The addition of Pennock gave the Yankees six starters -- Shawkey, Jones, Mays, Bush, Hoyt, and Pennock. Only Shawkey, who was obtained from Philadelphia, hadn’t pitched for Boston.
Eddie Collins Trade Rumors
A month earlier, there had been rumors that the Yankees were interested in obtaining Chicago second baseman Eddie Collins. The Yankees didn’t deny the rumors and various names were bandied about, including Yankees’ outfielder Bob Meusel. Collins was thirty six years old and considered past his prime, but the Yankees believed he still had two or three good seasons left. They also felt that he would be an excellent clubhouse influence.
The White Sox Wanted Hoyt
At the baseball meetings in Chicago, the trade talks heated up, with the Yankees and White Sox apparently agreeing on the players to be exchanged, but then the Sox demanded that Waite Hoyt be included in the deal. Yankees’ manager Miller Huggins refused to trade Hoyt unless the Yankees received nineteen-year-old pitcher Ted Blankenship. The White Sox refused and the potential trade died, which prompted the Yankees to obtain Pennock from Boston.
Hoyt Wanted to Remain With the Yankees
Waite Hoyt didn’t want to leave the Yankees. He has spent a substantial portion of the off season touring Japan, China, and Hawaii with a team of major leaguers. Upon his return to New York in early February 1923, the first thing he wanted to know was whether he was still a Yankee. When he was told that the White Sox deal was probably dead, he heaved a sigh of relief. He told reporters that the trip had been a success but “…after all, there is no place like New York. The Japanese are great ballplayers. They are very alert, but they are so excitable that they are inclined to lose their heads in the pinches and don’t know what to do with the ball when they get it.”
In the middle of February, at the baseball owners’ meetings, the Yankees and White Sox announced that Eddie Collins would not be traded to the Yankees. One of the sticking points that killed the deal was the Yankees’ refusal to part with Hoyt. It has often been stated that the best deals a team makes are sometimes the ones they never make. Nothing supports that more than the Waite Hoyt trade that never happened.
“Collins and Kerr May Become Yanks; Huggins Admits That Some Deal is Pending.” New York Times. 10 December 1922, p. 25.
“Big Deal Depends Upon One Player; Refusal of White Sox to Give Blankenship to Yanks Blocks Collins Trade; Willing to Trade Hoyt.” New York Times. 19 December 1922, p. 26.
“Red Sox Now Have 14 Former Yankees.” New York Times. 4 February 1923, p. S2.
“Hoyt Arrives Here After Long Jaunt; Expresses Relief When Told Yankees Have Not Traded Him to White Sox. New York Times. 8 February 1923, p. 22.