Former AL Cy Young Award winner LaMarr Hoyt passed away last Monday at age 66. According to a statement released by the White Sox, Mathew Hoyt (LaMarr’s oldest son) said his father was suffering from cancer.
Hoyt appeared in parts of eight MLB seasons from 1979-1986, with the first six of those years with the White Sox and the last two with the Padres. A fifth-round pick for the Yankees in the 1973 draft, Hoyt was dealt along with Oscar Gamble, minor league righty Bob Polinsky, and $200K to the White Sox in April 1977 in what turned out to be a very notable trade for both teams, as New York picked up Bucky Dent in exchange.
It didn’t take long for Hoyt to win over Tony La Russa, whose debut season as a big league manager with the White Sox coincided with Hoyt’s first taste of The Show.
“My first impression of LaMarr was, ’Here is a pitcher.’ He had average stuff but amazing command and tremendous confidence, and he never showed fear,” La Russa said in the White Sox media release. “We brought him up to the big leagues in 1979 and nothing bothered him. He had this impressive cool where he believed if he made his pitches, he would get hitters out. He faced teams multiple times in a season but could change up his looks and keep them off balance. What a great competitor.”
Hoyt didn’t become a full-fledged member of Chicago’s rotation until 1982, and he immediately made his mark by leading the American League with 19 wins and posting a 3.53 ERA. This set the stage for Hoyt’s signature 1983 year, which put him alongside Early Wynn and Jack McDowell as the only White Sox pitchers to ever capture a Cy Young Award.
During that dream season, Hoyt led the majors in wins (24) and walk rate (a tiny 3.0%) over 260 2/3 innings while posting a 3.66 ERA and leading the Sox to an AL West title. Hoyt also threw a complete game to secure Chicago’s lone victory over the Orioles in that year’s ALCS, as Hoyt held the eventual World Series champion O’s to just five hits in a 2-1 White Sox triumph.
After struggling in 1984, Hoyt was dealt that offseason to San Diego as part of a seven-player trade — it was another noteworthy move in White Sox history, as longtime Chicago player and future Series-winning manager Ozzie Guillen joined the Sox in that swap. Hoyt pitched well in 1985 and earned a spot on the NL All-Star team, but his performance declined in 1986 and he never pitched again in the majors. The end of Hoyt’s career was hastened by injuries, as well as a struggle with substance abuse and legal problems that resulted in a year-long suspension from Major League Baseball.
Hoyt posted a 3.99 ERA over 1311 1/3 innings with the White Sox and Padres, relying on his excellent control. Hoyt’s 5.1% walk rate is the seventh-lowest of any qualified pitcher from the 1979-1986 period, and of the six pitchers ahead of Hoyt on the list, only Hall-of-Famer Dennis Eckersley pitched more innings.
We at MLB Trade Rumors apologize for the late date of this post, and we send our condolences to Hoyt’s family and friends.