Waite Hoyt Summer 1988 Waite Hoyt: The Broadcast Years in Cincinnati Ellen Frell When the William Morris Agency in New York notified Waite Hoyt, in November 1941, that they had scheduled an audition for him for the job of play-by-play announcer for the Cincinnati Reds, Hoyt recognized it as a critical chance. In some ways it paralleled his "audition" for Manager John McGraw of the New York Giants twenty-six years earlier, when at age fifteen, Hoyt was offered a chance to pitch batting practice for the Giants. Like that opportunity of 1915, making good at the Cincinnati audition held the promise of a new career. Hoyt had parlayed that earlier opportunity into two decades of professional baseball that included some remarkable highlights: pitching twelve games in seven World Series, matching Christy Mathewson's record for twentyseven innings pitched without giving up a single earned run, leading the American League in victories (22-7) and earnedrun average (2.63) for the 1927 Yankees, considered the best team in the history of the game; and later elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame. In the 1920's baseball was the only game in town, and Hoyt and his colorful teammates and friendsLefty Gomez, Joe Dugan and the game's patron sinner Babe Ruth—were front page news. America was freeing itself from the rigidity of the war years and heading for the forbidden treats of Prohibition and the pleasures of the flapper era. In New York, the self-proclaimed fulcrum of the world, a young, handsome Yankee ballplayer did not lack for excitement. Hoyt made the most of it. The ballpark by day, the bright lights of New York and the Great White Way at night, with the prettiest faces of New York on his arm. It was a glorious and exhilarating time, and Hoyt himself summed it up better than anyone else with a statement that still epitomizes both the era and the man himself: "It's great to be young, and a Yankee." But in 1941 that career was over for Hoyt and now, with distant rumblings of war growing louder, another opportunity presented the hope of a different career, baseball broadcasting. And the man who packed his bags that day in late November for his trip to Cincinnati was by no Ellen Frell, of Chicago, is a magazine writer and an Emmyaward winning script writer for an NBC television documentary. means the raw, innocent teen who had stepped up to the mound at the Polo Grounds in 1915 and become an instant sensation. Two decades in a man's life bring many changes. Hoyt had been given his walking papers from the Brooklyn Dodgers in May, 1938. His playing days were over. By the late 1930's he was making inroads into radio in New York. He had spent-some winters during his Yankee years singing on Broadway and had made a dozen successful guest appearances on radio shows. With his playing career on the wane, he had capitalized on an excellent natural voice, an urbane manner, and the knack of telling a compelling story. For a while he did a sports show and a prime time sports quiz. He began to build a reputation in New York for radio work, firmly anchoring it to his baseball foundation. By 1939 Hoyt was doing a pre-game show for the New York Yankees on WABC called "According to Hoyt," where he commented, with verve and wit, on the game when he played it and the foibles of his teammates. But play-by-play was the real meat of baseball announcing and Hoyt knew it. He never lacked for a sense of the dramatic moment, and no one knew the lip biting On January 1, 1942, Waite Hoyt moved his family to Cincinnati to begin his career announcing the Cincinnati Reds' baseball games. Queen City Heritage tension of a close game better than he who had played in so many. He wanted to be back on the field during those moments, if in voice only. He yearned for the real action of the game underway, the emotional rush after the words "Play ball." In spite of his successful radio exposure doing programmed shows, the key job of play-by-play eluded him. But a man must operate within the restraints of his time and his era, and in the 1930's, a sports broadcast booth was not an acceptable arena for an ex-player. Hoyt repeatedly and vocally indicated his availability for play-byplay, and just as repeatedly been turned down without even being allowed to audition. Three major league teams denied him a shot at the job including the Yankees. Players, they felt, lacked the verbal ability to announce. To the man who had always been a lover of literature and adept with words, this was a low blow. Brought up to know a predicate from a participle, Hoyt had been frequently kidded during his playing years about his intellectual pursuits. "The guy was always reading,}> cracked one ex-teammate. Hoyt, who balanced his literary adventures with countless live ones by day and by night, knew better. But there was conflict within. The world of baseball of the 1920's and the 1930's was a rough world, especially the minor leagues where Hoyt had cut his teeth on language and behavior completely alien to his genteel upbringing at home in Brooklyn. There were moments when he had trouble reconciling the rugged characters and the circumstances of his livelihood with his equally real love of culture and the arts. And now he was being denied a chance at those jobs because of a stereotype he had never fit. "They told me ballplayers don't have the vocabulary to do play-byplay," he said. Ten years earlier when Hoyt's temper was firmly connected to his vocal chords, he might have come up with some choice vocabulary in response. But now, like a pitcher bearing down on a hitter, he opted to redouble his efforts. He moved his family from their new home in New Jersey back into New York City to be closer to the pulse of baseball and radio. And he signed on with the prestigious William Morris Talent Agency to make sure no opportunity escaped him. If there were parallels here with hisfirstchance at the big leagues years earlier, there were even bigger differences. The man now evaluating his possibilities was neither youthful nor naive. The Waite Hoyt who left his apartment and walked out onto Seventy-Fourth Street for his tryout in Cincinnati was a forty-two-year-old retired baseball player, the head of a family, looking toward a horizon that as far as he could see offered little except this one good chance. He still had the professional athlete's rush of energy in a crisis. And as he had done for so many other more physical competitions earlier in his life, he began to review strategy. This was one he could not afford to lose. Cincinnati in 1941 had two major radio stations broadcasting the Reds games, each using their own announcer. A third station, WKRC, was on the lookout for an especially good play-by-play announcer to solidify a new and unusual three-way arrangement among the station, the Reds, and The Burger Brewing Company. The brewery had picked up sponsorship of the Reds games on WKRC to increase their objectives of bringing good beer—via good baseball—to the Cincinnati area. Burger was tightening up an excellent marketing campaign over an area that encompassed several states. They planned to gain further control over the quality of their broadcasts by signing their soon-to-be-picked announcer as their direct employee, avoiding station control. They wanted a quality voice that would become a trademark for them and their product. During his baseball career Hoyt pitched in seven World Series games for the Yankees. Waite Hoyt Summer 1988 The final decision on an announcer would be based on a careful review of audition discs. Hoyt had years of experience under his belt in outguessing opponents. He suspected that his competitors for this job would submit imaginary play-by-play broadcast discs, and his sense of theater (perfected watching his father perform vaudeville routines and by his own experience on Broadway) told him this was a dangerous choice. Realistic play-by-play would be fairly slowly paced, while invented on-the-field theatrics could not help but come across as contrived. He had a completely different idea for showcasing his talent. He went into the studio, marked his script for pauses, and began. On the disc was Hoyt's rich, energetic voice, telling a story full of emotion and interest, sending a clear message to The Burger Brewing Company: they had found their man. REISENWEBER'S NEW CRYSTAL ROOM ALL-STAR VODVIL BEGINNING SUNDAY EYE'G. OCTOBER SALLY FIELDS IDIH Ji "RAORD1NARY WAITE, HOYT WESTON Ck BROWN EMI LIE LEA™ " MAXIE " F 4 I' MARK 1:' S R £ N D tl Z V O US I * PARADISE wm I F A V M A RBE \ Bud Koons, former President of The Burger Brewing Company, clearly remembered Hoyt's audition disc. "When all of them had been reviewed," Koons said, "Hoyt's stood out a mile from the rest. Most people did simulated ballgames. He made an offbeat imaginative tape about a little boy. It was his tape that won it for him." A few days later Waite Hoyt was back in New York uprooting his family for the second time in six months. This move would be to a small city in the Midwest, the Queen City, a long way both in geography and personality from the bright lights of New York. And both Hoyt and his wife Ellen were native New Yorkers. Ellen had grown up on Fifth Avenue and her parents, siblings, friends, and social life were all here. She had spent time in Europe, but had never been west of Pittsburgh. If the Midwest was foreign to Ellen Hoyt, baseball was even more so. Though she adored her husband she had never been involved in Hoyt's career plans, either baseball or radio. She was hardly enthusiastic about moving so far away from her world for a purpose she did not understand. Far bigger problems were upon Hoyt with the advent of World War II. Ten days after he accepted the job, on December 7, 1941, he awoke and turned on the radio to learn that America was at war. He cabbed to the building that housed WOR Studios at Broadway and Forty-First Street where he broadcast a half-hour radio show at 1:30. Later that afternoon he and Ellen walked down Fifth Ave- While a Yankee, Hoyt spent the winters singing on Broadway and making guest appearances on radio shows. ^^Bi nue and through Central Park, confused by the dozens of rumors that were plaguing the city: fleets of enemy ships seen outside New York Harbor, imminent attacks expected from the Japanese. Hoyt noticed the beauty of the mild December day and he felt the idea of war to be almost surrealistic. But the reality was there and it was not pleasant. To this man about to change his home, his work, and his life, questions came flooding in. The future of the country was in doubt. Would America survive this war, and in what form? What would happen to baseball if the war continued. Would Roosevelt decide to ban the sport? If baseball survived, with most able-bodied men wanting to enlist, who would play it? Would he be out of a job tomorrow? Hoyt moved his wife, small son, and belongings to Cincinnati January i, 1942, with great enthusiasm and equal trepidation. For the second time in his life he was stepping up to a new career under the cloud of a wartime America full of ambiguity about the value of sports during wartime and a much deeper uncertainty about the future itself. His broadcasts emanated from a booth atop the grandstand at Crosley Field. It was open to the weather, freezing on many an opening day and dripping with humidity in August. Everybody in Cincinnati knew who Waite Hoyt was, but not everybody believed their good luck. Many felt Hoyt was a temporary figure in their town, a New Yorker who would reap the rewards of a high visibility job and then disappear back into the East. It was a town not known for its quick acceptance of outsiders, and Hoyt felt, not for the first time in his life, to be on the outside looking in. Franklin Delano Roosevelt allowed baseball to continue during the war years as a distraction for those at home and "a way to help the country's morale." But the way the Cincinnati Reds had been playing for the last two years was hardly uplifting. The Reds had won the pennant in 1939 and 1940 but there had been little to get enthusiastic about since then. In 1941 and 1942 they finished well out of the running. The Burger Brewing Company was concerned. Not only was their team putting in a poor showing, but wartime rationing had forced them to reallocate their resources and disrupt distribution. They tiptoed through the first months of the war hoping things would improve. Up in the broadcast booth things were no easier. Hoyt found it difficult to adjust to two other sports- Summer 1988 Waite Hoyt casters announcing the same game at the same time he was. It was often even harder for his companions. Frequently they were the same reporters that stations sent out to cover news, weather, and society dances. Although one or two could report a game with competence, too often whether they knew anything about baseball was often a matter of luck. Hoyt found himself instructing them, carefully so as to not embarrass them, about the subtleties of the game and the nuances of play. As usual, he was a stickler for accuracy. By now Hoyt had signed on with Burger directly, and was, for all intents and purposes, the entire broadcast team for the Cincinnati Reds. His broadcasts emanated from a booth atop the grandstand at Crosley Field. It was open to the weather, freezing on many an opening day and hot in August, but it was close to the fans, the players, and the action. "Crosley Field," as Hoyt said, "bred intimacy." Across a five-state area Reds fans would turn on radios and hear: "Three o'clock and baseball is on the air. Good afternoon fans, this is Waite Hoyt for Burger Beer, bringing you the Cincinnati Reds." He had a strong, rich voice, applied his Brooklyn accent with a full vocabulary, and showed no reluctance to describe exactly what he saw on the field. Something compelling about his delivery made you want to hear him out through the rest of the story to learn how it all came out. His voice had the immediacy and excitement of a man who knew what he was talking about. He reported the games with strict honesty. If a player booted the ball, that's how it came out of Hoyt's mike, not as a bad bounce. He would never use euphemisms to describe an error. This approach was not always welcomed in those years when the Reds were making more than their share of errors. But Hoyt respected the integrity of the game and the intelligence of the fans and refused to repaint reality. Above the little table where he penciled in the starting lineup and computed the statistics as the game went on, he pasted a code of broadcast ethics. He was careful not to single out individuals unless for the positive. Out of the routinely mediocre play of those months there were nevertheless star performers and good moments, and Hoyt made the most of them. In spite of—some thought because of—the fact that Hoyt refused to cheerlead for a lackluster team, he began to build a following. John Murdough, assistant to Bill De Witt (President and General Manager of the Reds) at that time remembers trying to get Hoyt to change his style. Hoyt had described, all too effectively, how the Reds had taken a drubbing in Chicago. "I said to him, 'Waite, you could have toned that down. Try to help us a little, will ya?' and he yelled, 'I can't build up the team when we're getting beat right and left! Not with scores like 10-2!' "We had a few words then," Murdough remembers. "We fought about it. But the more I think about it, he did the right thing. Cheerleading interferes with reporting a game. It wouldn't have mattered what the ballclub or anyone else urged him to do. He had an allegiance to the fans to give the best description he possibly could of the game." And the best description, Hoyt felt, was voiced in the past tense. "For one reason only; Accuracy," as Hoyt emphasized many times. Not for him the pseudo-action of the present tense. He was accepted quickly by the players, who realized he was accurate, fair, and disinclined to criticize them. They hung around for pitching suggestions, which were always given with deference to the coaches and an admonition to check with them before trying out any changes. Murdough continued: "Sincere athletes have a great respect for other athletes. You could always tell the guys on the ballclub who were the good ones: they wanted to talk to any athlete they felt was superior. They always wanted to talk to Waite." "Pete Rose was one of those. He loved Waite. He talked to him constantly about the differences in the game between his day and now, and about Ty Cobb. He found out a lot of things." Road games presented Hoyt with a completely different set of problems. For the first ten years with the club, Hoyt did not travel with the team, but broadcast from a ticker-tape that clicked out the plays, largely in code, to his broadcast table in a studio. He described the plays with the same immediacy and spontaneity of someone watching the action, but it was a more difficult job. He explained the problem to people in later years: the difference between the smell of the open air and feel of a ballpark, and the sterility of four walls and reading the plays in code from a piece of paper. Without the action in front of you, he said, "You have to create your own excitement." But create excitement he did, and even those few who remembered that he was not broadcasting from the game itself came under the spell of his recreations of the action on the field. It seemed that he was right there, watching every play, reporting what he saw. The immediacy of Queen City Heritage these recreations was compelling. He was building a following for his broadcasts and making friends both in and out of the Reds' organization during those early years. He was "well-liked and accepted everywhere" as one veteran of those years put it. He had a feel for people. "Waite did a lot of stuff that people didn't know about. He'd go out of his way to be good to a kid who just joined the ballclub, to help make him feel at home," said one member of the Reds' organization who worked with him those years. But Hoyt, so adept at making others feel at home, still felt himself on trial. As with many self-assured public figures he had a less certain inner side. Even in his earlier years of remarkable baseball success he often wondered if he should have not chosen a different career path. He was still uncertain of his acceptance in Cincinnati, in spite of the fact that by 1944 he had purchased a home and settled into the life of a permanent resident. He was gaining ground every month as a popular historic figure, but the view from the gallery of witnesses from that era too often does not match his view from within. It was sometime during those years that the drinking problems that had occasionally surfaced during his playing years reappeared with new vehemence and Hoyt became an alcoholic. Sober for weeks at a time, and somehow able to not let his drinking interfere with his broadcasting, he kept up the charade for a number of months with only his wife and close associates suspecting a problem. But on June 21, 1945, he disappeared and was reported missing by Ellen, who contrived a story that he suffered occasional bouts of amnesia as the result of being hit on the head by a baseball in earlier years. His disappearance made front page news. Two days later, front page news again reported him as having been found and returned to his home where he was resting "under a doctor's care." The story reached New York, and his ex-teammates, most of whom had suffered the excesses of liquor side by side with Hoyt during the 1920's reacted with predictable humor to the idea that Hoyt, known to have an excellent memory, had been subjected to amnesia. Babe Ruth wired him: "Never Heard of Amnesia. Must Be New Brand." But there was little humor in the reevaluation of his life that Hoyt chose to make during the next few weeks under the guidance of two close friends and Alcoholics Anonymous. He admitted, first to himself, and then one day in the summer of 1945 to his fans and his public that he was an alcoholic. He knew the admission might cost him his public or his job but he was under no delusions. Alcoholism was already costing him his health, his marriage, and his life. He braced for the response. And it came: support flooding in from people across the country. One man close to Hoyt remembers "People loved him after the drinking problem was out of the way because they knew what a battle he'd had, and he'd overcome it. Before that he was accepted, after that you might say he was almost canonized." Not so curiously, the only reservation about his admission of alcoholism came behind closed doors at Burger, where executives worried that an admitted alcoholic was hardly the spokesman a beer company needed. But Burger was carried along by a wave of public support that was completely behind Hoyt, and strong public admiration for his nerve in admitting what was, in those days, an unacceptable social problem with overtones of real stigma. The idea of anyone else announcing was quickly dropped in the face of pro-Hoyt momentum that grew larger and larger as the months went by. In the new light of sobriety, Hoyt reviewed his life and found it wanting in some respects. He had relied on close friends and the organization of Alcoholics Anonymous to support him as he carefully reconstructed his thinking, and now he was ready to return the favor from a position of strength. From that point on he gave personal and emotional help to individuals who came to A.A. In 1946 he stood up before a packed room and delivered a speech which was remembered as an emotional high point in the lives of those present that evening. In it Hoyt admitted the fears he felt when he exposed this weakness to his public and private life, the loss of some "friends" and the patient love of others, the gradual improvement in his life that had resulted once he admitted he was an alcoholic: From my standpoint I believe that you attain a certain awareness of the plenitude of life's offerings.... little delights which seemed so trivial, so beneath our notice in our drinking days. We believe in the sincerity of spirit behind a compliment. We learn to accept a rebuke, or advice. We become tolerant. We come to look upon the world as a friendly place. We come to see the reasons for the existence of many things. Better than all else—the truth is refreshing. For some fortunate reason—fortunate for us—people are most willing to help someone who is making a comeback. You see before you an alcoholic who has attained some measure of recovery. Tou^e heard admissions by him about his drinking days, and I imagine you tacitly admit there has been some improvement in him. Therefore you borrow from him some of his confidence and, I hope, desire. Summer 1988 Waite Hoyt For eleven years Hoyt was the Reds' broadcast team, and the lack of regular backup announcers resulted in some unusual programming. On September 9, 1946, Hoyt broadcast three baseball games simultaneously. Six telegraph operators took the copy and four staff men at the station kept the accounts running as Hoyt voiced the play-by-play play for three critical games in the last days of the season. He announced nonstop for five and one-half hours with only an occasional bite of sandwich and whiff of some smelling salts to keep him going. Poor backup programming forced Hoyt into these odd, sometimes humorous situations like the record three game, five and one-half hour broadcast, but it also opened the way for what became his on air trademark. During games when rain delayed the play, Hoyt began reminiscing, telling stories that were remnants of his days in the major and minor leagues, stories filled with the colorful characters that shared train berths and escapades with him in the late teens and '20's and '30's. His skill as a storyteller was considerable. He had vivid on-the-air presence, and the excitement he showed in reliving these moments made the transition from his memory out onto the airwaves with no loss of immediacy. He took you back to a hotel lobby in New Orleans in 1919, to a wild card-game in a dusty traincar on a road trip. He re-fought Yankee brawls on the field over a knockdown pitch, described how Babe Ruth had barely escaped a crowd of ladies who stormed the locker room. The stories were never about his own glories in the game, but were instead tales told on himself or humorous evaluations of hundreds of aspects of the art of playing baseball. Umpires, rules, fines, player trades, ballpark dollies, uniforms, and the thousand and one incidents of his own active and exciting life all became part of the experience of baseball in Cincinnati. The entire 1927 Yanks including the Babe, Miller Huggins, and the dozens and dozens of others they encountered emerged from Hoyt's mike during air time to fill the hours and the summers of the listeners in Cincinnati. They were insights from other years spent inside other ballparks in another America, prewar and vibrant. They drew upon characters and events spiced with a vocabulary not usually applied to the world of sports, and always tempered with humor. He had a hearty, boisterous laugh that would build from a soft nearly sinister chuckle, as if the scene he was describing was right there in front of him and he couldn't help marveling at it, then building to a crescendo of "Ha-ahaaha-aha-aha!," carrying the listeners along with its waves oflaughs. Hoyt's rain delay stories, begun as a way to pass the time until the main event could be resumed, became the main event themselves. "I knew people who didn't give a damn about baseball who would turn Hoyt on when they heard he was doing a rain delay," one fan said. It would have been a close decision, during those years when the Reds were at the bottom of the league whether people listened to For several seasons, Hoyt did not travel to away games but broadcast from inside the studio using a ticker-tape that clicked out the plays. Queen City Heritage friend, the audience snowballed. It was baseball's most eloquent player paying tribute to baseball's most remarkable player in a broadcast interrupted more than once with the emotion of the moment, tearful laughs over the rough bear of a man who brought baseball fully into America's consciousness. Hoyt signed off more than two hours later to a virtual avalanche of phone calls, telegrams, and letters, gratitude from people who well knew they would never have another chance to get to know Ruth so well. Hoyt answered each telegram and letter, and with characteristic modesty: I assure you it was not a feat on my part, nor a tremendous accomplishment as my subject automatically supplied its own appeal. I merely had to create. I suppose my sincerity carried some weight as it was from the heart. After it was over, I did not realize I had done anything special. I merely talked as so many players have talked about the Babe down through the years and, Iguess, will continue to talk about him. May I add, broadcast is a pleasure when the response is so human and gratifying. It makes one realize that all of us share the same sentiments about so many things. I try to carry that thought in all my broadcasts. Hoyt's broadcasts for his reminiscences or for the action. You could hear another era through Hoyt's on-the-air conversations. He was a master of anecdote wellplaced, of humor that was never caustic. At the mike he was an athlete with perfect grammar, a Yankee with a love of fastballs and frolic, a gentleman in the locker room. In the late summer of 1948 Hoyt was broadcasting over the wire when an assistant in the studio handed him a telegram that Babe Ruth was dead. The assistant reported later that Hoyt was visibly shaken but interrupted the game only to repeat the sad news to the fans and to mention that if they'd like to stay with the station after the game was over he would say a few words about the Babe. He began simply, remembering the good times with his teammate and friends, and those few words grew, as the minutes went by, into a eulogy that few other men could have delivered. As word flashed around Cincinnati that Hoyt was on the air speaking about his recently departed Waite Hoyt broadcast a two hour eulogy to his good friend and teammate, Babe Ruth (left Hoyt, right Babe Ruth). Waite Hoyt was a pallbearer at Ruth's funeral at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York that September. While carrying the coffin out into the heat of the afternoon, Joe Dugan, another pallbearer and ex-Yankee, leaned over and said to Hoyt in a soft voice, "Boy, I could sure use a beer." Hoyt answered with a mischievous grin, "So could the Babe, Joe, so could the Babe!" Hoyt told an interviewer later that he felt that the Babe Ruth eulogy had been the point at which he became a true Cincinnatian. As he entered the 19 5 o's he was more at home with himself than he had ever been, though that realization on his part lay perhaps years behind the reality of his acceptance. Broadcasting was beginning to change. Hoyt did the first TV/radio simultaneous broadcast as the new medium began to encroach on territory previously so firmly in the hands of radio. There were others sharing the mike with him now, like Jack Moran(i95 3-i96o) and later Gene Kelly and Claude Sullivan. The behind-the-scenes camaraderie worked its way out over the airwaves, and audiences would be privy to the devious playfulness of Hoyt. He would wait until Moran, who enjoyed a hearty appetite, took a big bite of sandwich and began to chew, then Hoyt would instantly land on Moran for an on-the-air opinion and chuckle heartily while he struggled to swallow or sink Waite Hoyt's rain delay stories became so popular with serious fans and casual listeners alike that a record album of Waite's best stories was issued. Summer 1988 Waite Hoyt 11 into dead airwaves. In 1953 Hoyt was asked to broadcast the All-Star game and two years later he added a winter sports show to his schedule. By this time the crowds that pressed around him for autographs were as thick as those surrounding the players. In 1956 WSAI, by then home of the Reds' broadcasts, celebrated Hoyt's 2,500th broadcast and fifteen years as spokesman for the Reds. Cincinnati literally danced in the streets when the Reds took the pennant in 1961. They had waited more than two decades for a celebration like this, and when Hoyt and the players returned from their road trip victorious, the crowds were ready for them. The party went on into the night, with Hoyt on an open-air stage on Fountain Square singing songs from his vaudeville days to jubilant crowds. Several days later he broadcast the World Series, when the Reds lost to the Yankees (4-1). By 196 5 escalating costs had caused Burger to release its sponsorship of the games. The replacement sponsor wanted to sign Hoyt on again, but Hoyt had a fierce loyalty to Burger. They had stood by him during the years of his drinking, before A.A., and they had stood by him afterwards when the thought of a non-drinker representing a beer company was ample reason to turn the job over to another. He could not think of divorcing himself from the organization that had stuck by him during those times. Burger was part of his professional life. During his broadcast of the World Series in 1961 he had, out of long habit, announced "This is the Burger Beer Broadcasting Network" when the game had been sponsored not by Burger but by Gillette. "We owe Gillette one in next year's Series," he joked. This, after all, was the announcer who described home-run balls hit by the Reds as "heading for Burgerville." Cincinnati celebrated Waite Hoyt Day on September 25, 1965. On the day that Burger surrendered its sponsorship of the games, Hoyt pitched his last broadcast after twenty-three years and more than 4,000 games. It was October 3, 1965, and it marked the end of an era in Cincinnati. Though Hoyt had minor stints in broadcast- WAITE HOYT ,- •& r. Queen City Heritage ing later in the 1960's and 1970's, his days at the mike were effectively over. In 1969 he was elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame and his vocal skills did not fail him. He gave a speech that brought the audience of thousands present at the induction ceremonies to its feet. It was not possible to walk down a street in Cincinnati with Hoyt without witnessing how much he meant to its people. In broadcasting Hoyt had found a way to mix baseball and brains, the physical and mental sides of his being that had conflicted in earlier years. And perhaps the microphone connecting him, the speaker, with the neverending stories from a distant time was the most effective way he could find to be a part of the public and the fans, yet retain some of the solitude he loved. There are men in whose actions you can read the pulse of an era, men who wear, in their voices and on their faces, the map of a different time, the romance, if you will, of events past. And most baseball fans are romantics. To love this game you must value emotions, tactile sensations like the feel of leather, the smell of cut grass, the dramas and dilemmas that are part and parcel of the game. It was all there in Hoyt. A predilection for life's high points, an appreciation of human nature, an exaltation of the common man. It went from him to all of us listening out there, waiting for his laugh and his perfectly chosen words to make us part of the game that is America's sweetheart. WAITE CHARLES HOYT "SCHOOLBOY" NEW YORK YANKEE PITCHER 1921-1930, LIFETIME RECORD: 237 GAMES WON, 182 GAMES LOST, ,566 AVERAGE, EARNED RUN AVERAGE 3 3 9 . PITCHED 3 GAMES IN 1921 WORLD SERIES AND GAVE NO EARNED RUNS ALSO PITCHED FOR BOSTON, DETROIT AND PHILADELPHIA A.L.AND BROOKLYN, NEW YORK AND PITTSBURGH N. L. (Excerpted from a book in process, "Waite Hoyt" by Ellen Frell, Copyright 1988. All rights reserved.) Jack Moran shared broadcasting duties with Hoyt from 1953-1960. In this picture Moran is on the left, second baseman Johnny Temple in the center, and Hoyt on the right. In 1969 Hoyt was elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame.
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