We all probably have different opinions about the best way to quit a job. Some of us have the kind of job where we would like to go storming in to the boss, spit “I quit!” in his or her face, and stomp out the front door with fist pumps in the air (otherwise known as the “Lotto Winner’s Fantasy”). Most of us simply let the boss know that we’re moving on, give her or him a couple weeks notice, and try to clean things up for the next person on the way out.
Waite Hoyt, the radio play by play guy knew how to make an exit. Fifty years ago today, he told his loyal listeners during the Giants-Reds tilt that night that the 1965 season would be his last in the Reds broadcast booth.
Well, Hoyt didn’t exactly quit on the spot while on the air. He had let his bosses at the Reds know earlier that afternoon that 1965 would be his final year. Also, he continued to broadcast through the final game of the season. So it wasn’t even close to a petulant rant and exit. It was all very clean and civil. And he even returned to the Reds TV booth for one more year during the Reds pennant winning romp of 1972.
But unlike some of the greatest all-time broadcasters at certain times in history, Hoyt got to go out on his own terms, announcing it to his listeners in the way he wanted to. We should all get that.
The story about Hoyt’s unique departure, written by Mike Dyer, ran on the Cincinnati Enquirer’s website last month. You can read the story in its entirety below, or if you prefer, you can read the original story here:
Waite Hoyt retired from Reds’ radio booth 50 years ago
Mike Dyer, firstname.lastname@example.org
The ace of the 1927 Yankees sure knew about timing.
Waite Hoyt’s announcement that he was retiring from the Reds radio booth arrived in the middle of a mid-week tied game 50 years ago this summer. And the news just happened to be in the middle of a pennant race.
The popular Reds radio announcer with a knack for the flair in front of an audience managed to bury the lede on Wednesday night, Aug. 4, 1965 at Crosley Field.
“The big adventure is over,” Hoyt told his audience after the fifth inning of the Giants-Reds game.
Moments earlier, San Francisco pitcher Juan Marichal got Deron Johnson to ground out with Pete Rose stranded on third base.
Reds left-handed pitcher Jim O’Toole took the mound to prepare for the bottom of the Giants lineup in the sixth.
“Late this afternoon…I decided to surrender my position as baseball broadcaster for the Cincinnati Reds following the final game of the 1965 season,” Hoyt said.
The Giants defeated the Reds 4-3 in 10 innings in front of 16,376 that August night. The Reds were two games back of the first-place Dodgers while the Giants were three behind Los Angeles.
Nearly 4,000 letters poured in for Hoyt to reconsider his retirement.
“When Hoyt announced his retirement in August, the news hit his faithful listeners as if the Carew Tower had fallen on them,” a United Press International story said in November 1965.
Other fans said the Reds ought to make Hoyt the club manager.
“It’s nice to know people have that much faith in my baseball knowledge,” Hoyt said. “But, I’m afraid I would be too impulsive in my decisions to make a good manager.”
Hoyt’s final Reds game in the radio booth occurred nearly two months later at Candlestick Park.
Today, Hoyt’s voice can be heard inside the Cincinnati Museum Center as part of the Queen City Baseball: Diamonds and Stars exhibit.
An original part of his final Reds radio broadcast – Oct. 3, 1965 – is a sheer delight as visitors enter the exhibit room on the bottom floor of the Museum Center.
Surrounded by Reds memorabilia, visitors hear Hoyt give the lineup on the speaker above. The audience also hears the National Anthem being played at the stadium.
But, there is also an eerie sense of irony listening to the crowd murmur on the broadcast. Just last week, the final upper-deck section at Candlestick Park was torn down as the stadium demolition makes room for housing, a hotel and a shopping center on its site.
Just the memories remain of that afternoon.
There is plenty of biographical information about Hoyt as a player and a broadcaster at the exhibit. One particular photo shows Hoyt in a WKRC radio studio broadcasting an “away” game in the 1940s.
“Waite never ran out of words – he had cut his teeth on the old ‘Grandstand and Bandstand’ program, a mishmash of music, variety and sports that required the performers to scribble their own material between short sessions on the air,” Robert Smith wrote in the Des Moines Register on Oct. 3, 1965.
The exhibit has an RCA microphone, a bat, autographed baseballs, and an original typed script complete with edits from Hoyt discussing Babe Ruth’s driving. There is also an album of Hoyt’s rain-delay stories from the Baseball Hall of Famer who died in 1984.
Hoyt’s widow, Betty, lives in Westwood. Betty, who is Waite’s third wife, will turn 90 in September.
Reds fans like Betty in the 1940s, 50s and 60s understood Hoyt’s broadcast style quite well.
His rain delay stories were legendary. Cincinnati fans learned a great deal about Ruth, Hoyt’s Murderers’ Row teammate.
The Brooklyn native called Reds games on Cincinnati radio airwaves starting on April 14, 1942. He was a Burger Beer guy. He always called games in the past tense.
“His laugh and his storytelling ability was what made him special,” Hoyt’s television broadcast partner Tom Hedrick told The Enquirer last week.
Hedrick, 81, is a sportscaster and Mass Media and Communication Instructor at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kan. He worked with Hoyt on Reds games in the television booth in 1972.
“He was kind of my father figure,” Hedrick said. “He always made sure things were ok. He was a fine gentleman. He and I had a rapport.”
Years after he stepped away from the radio booth at the end of the ’65 season, the Reds announced Jan. 30, 1972 that Hoyt would join Hedrick in the TV booth (WLWT) for what turned out to be a National League pennant that October.
Even during that ’72 season, Hoyt always had a story to share and social graces that put those around him at ease.
Hoyt jokingly used a spitball during first pitches at Riverfront Stadium. Rose enjoyed his company. The Big Red Machine was clicking that year and won 95 games.
Al Michaels and Joe Nuxhall were in their second year together on the radio calling Reds games on WLW. The stadium was sparkling.
Hedrick has never forgotten what Hoyt taught him about the intricacies of the game. The Hall of Famer gave Hedrick a great deal of confidence too.
“‘I’ve had my place in the sun,’ Hoyt told Hedrick. ‘It’s your ballgame.'”
Fifty years ago this summer, Hoyt was on his radio farewell tour but he collected plenty of highlights and accolades.
Just four days after he announced his retirement from the radio booth, the Reds defeated the 1965 World Series champion Dodgers 18-0 at Crosley Field – still the modern club record for largest margin of victory in a shutout for the Reds.
The Reds also played at old Busch Stadium (formerly Sportsman’s Park) for the final time on Aug. 15.
On Aug. 19, Reds right-handed pitcher Jim Maloney threw a no-hitter at Wrigley Field in a 1-0 win over the Cubs in 10 innings. Maloney struck out 12 for the 10th no-hitter in club history.
Then, just a few days before his 66th birthday, the longtime announcer was lauded with “Waite Hoyt Day” at Crosley Field on Sunday, Sept. 5.
This tribute was made in response to several requests from fans and the event was sponsored by the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce. Hoyt was awarded a five-week European tour after the season from more than 1,800 appreciative fans.
Hoyt was recognized plenty in news articles for his time with the Reds and was described as one of the most popular men in Ohio.
“I wouldn’t trade the years I have spent in baseball for anything,” Hoyt said.