A Father’s Day Blockbuster for Baseball Fans

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Yankees legend Waite Hoyt’s new memoir carries a fatherly message

“I was only 23 and didn’t grasp being a father,” Hall of Fame Yankees ace pitcher Waite Hoyt wrote in “Schoolboy: The Untold Journey of a Yankees Hero” (University of Nebraska Press), his newly released memoir. “I handled our babies like they were Haviland china. I would have liked to have known what to do but felt it was outside my domain.”

He continued: “It’s like they used to say in the old days. One fellow asks another, ‘What do you know about electricity?’ And he says, ‘I know enough to leave it alone.'”

Hoyt didn’t necessarily have the greatest role model, notes “Schoolboy” co-author Tim Manners. “Hoyt’s father, Addison Hoyt, was perhaps a bit of a man-child himself,” Manners says. “While he did hold down a steady job, that didn’t happen until after his own dreams of a baseball career and then a vaudeville actor were dashed.”

Perhaps because of this, Manners suggests that “Schoolboy” Hoyt’s astonishing life was punctuated by father figures, of a sort:

  • John McGraw. The legendary New York Giants manager, McGraw’s parenting style could only be described as “tough love.” He certainly saw potential in young Waite Hoyt and launched his career. Even when McGraw yelled at him or criticized his pitching style as “too pretty,” Hoyt was thrilled by the attention.
  • Ed Barrow. The Yankees general manager himself apparently aspired to be Hoyt’s father-in-law, introducing his young star to his beautiful daughter and subtly encouraging their marriage. Hoyt was already engaged, however, and Barrow graciously offered to pay for their honeymoon.
  • Miller Huggins. If Hoyt had a true father figure other than his actual father it was Miller Huggins, the Yankees’ manager. Huggins was convinced that Hoyt was the best pitcher in baseball but could only realize his potential if he gave up performing on vaudeville during the off season.
  • Herb Heekin. He may not have been a father figure exactly, but Herb Heekin was arguably the most consequential mentor in Waite Hoyt’s life. It was Heekin who introduced Hoyt to Alcoholics Anonymous and gave him the perspective he needed to put his life permanently back on track.

In the epilogue to his memoir, Hoyt recounted a conversation with his son Chris in which he raised the question of why youngsters failed to learn from the mistakes of their elders. He concluded that he hoped those who came after him “might have learned a whole lot from my life’s choices, good, bad, and indifferent, just as I could have learned more than I did from others who made mistakes.”

Fatherly wisdom indeed.

Schoolboy is available in time for Father’s Day on Amazon and at other fine retailers.

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