Waite Hoyt: Hall of Fame Pitcher and Voice of the Cincinnati Reds
Posted On: 09/29/2017 - 12:05pm, Posted By: Scott Gampfer, Associate Vice President for Collections & Preservation
On October 3, 1965, Waite Charles Hoyt broadcast his last Reds game, capping a twenty-three year, 4,000 game career as the play-by-play voice of the Cincinnati team.
Hoyt came to the Queen City in 1942 after a twenty-year career as a professional baseball player including nine years with the New York Yankees. Waite Hoyt’s accomplishments as a major league pitcher eventually earned him induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969.
Full-length portrait of Hoyt and Babe Ruth c.1930, New York Yankees.
When Hoyt’s playing days ended in 1938 he had a brief stint doing various radio jobs in New York, but really wanted to do play-by-play broadcasting of games. At the time it was thought that ex-players lacked sufficient vocabulary to be effective play-by-play announcers. His break came when Cincinnati company Burger Beer was looking for an announcer for Reds games. Hoyt auditioned and was hired for the job in November, 1941.
Reds fans soon came to appreciate Hoyt’s smooth style, unique voice, and insightful commentary. He displayed legendary skill as a storyteller, a skill particularly evident during rain delays, where he entertained listeners with colorful anecdotes from his playing days. In the early years, Hoyt did not accompany the Reds to away games, but did the play-by-play broadcasts from a studio in Cincinnati while receiving the on-field plays by tickertape machine.
Waite Hoyt and Dick Nesbitt doing the play-by-play broadcast for a Reds “away” game from the WKRC Radio studio, c. 1940s.
Despite his success, Hoyt developed drinking problems. His battle with alcoholism reached a low point in 1945 followed by a public admission of his problem. With the support of friends, family, and Alcoholics Anonymous, Hoyt overcame his drinking problem but feared that his broadcast career might be over. Instead, overwhelming public support flooded in and even sponsor Burger Beer was convinced to retain Hoyt.
Waite Hoyt in the broadcast booth at Crosley Field, c. 1965.
When Hoyt retired in 1965, he and his wife briefly moved to Florida but decided that Cincinnati was really their home and returned to the city. He continued to make personal appearances in retirement and eventually took up painting for which he received some limited recognition.
In March 1979, Waite donated to the Cincinnati Historical Society a collection of personal papers, photographs, radio scripts, magazine and newspaper articles, certificates, and memorabilia from his playing career including autographed baseballs, mitt and bats. Waite Hoyt passed away on August 25, 1984
“Waite Hoyt in the Rain,” 1963 LP by Personality Records (King).