SABR

Peter Hoy

This article was written by Bill Nowlin.

Reference sources correctly note that Peter Alexander Hoy was born in Brockville, Ontario, Canada, on June 29, 1966. That’s where Brockville General Hospital is located, but the Hoy family lived in the nearby village of Cardinal, and that’s where Pete was raised. Described by the Whig-Standard of Kingston as “a sleepy rural town,” Cardinal is a village of something over 1,000 residents located on the St. Lawrence River, 20 to 25 miles northeast of Brockville, about an hour south of Ottawa, and across the river from New York state. One could travel three hours to the west and reach Toronto, and a couple of hours east to reach Montreal. Pete grew up a Montreal Expos fan, though almost everyone else in the family was a Red Sox fan. “I don’t like the Yankees,” Pete said in 2009, “so that makes me more of a Red Sox fan, too.”

It was the Red Sox who drafted him in the 33rd round of the 1988 amateur draft, and the Red Sox for whom he played – albeit pitching in only five games in April and May 1992. There was a little Yankees background, through. Pete’s father, Jack Hoy, was a pitcher himself, and pitched for three different Class D teams in the Yankees system in 1955 and 1956, the Owensboro Oilers, the McAlester Rockets, and the Bradford Yankees. Both Hoys were right-handers, though Pete batted left. Batting was a skill he never had the opportunity to use at the major-league level, though he hit .286 over seven seasons of minor-league ball – that would be two hits in seven at-bats.

John Hoy ran a lumberyard for years in the Cardinal area, and then ran the rink in town after that. Pete’s mother, Diana, was an elementary school teacher in Cardinal. Pete had one older brother and a younger sister. His brother was just a year older, and, like Pete, played a lot of sports. He ended up playing basketball in Canada. Cardinal didn’t have organized baseball until Pete was 13, and Jack Hoy started a team (the Cardinal Athletics) and a small league. Despite having a father who had played in the minors, Pete himself didn’t have the opportunity to play baseball before then; he took to it once he did and played in Cardinal for a couple of years. From the age of 15 to 18, he played for the Brockville Bunnies, in a town about 20 miles to the west. He also played volleyball, football, and basketball at South Grenville High School.

Jack Hoy actively encouraged his sons in their athletic activities. “He was always one of my coaches, whether it was baseball or hockey, growing up,” Pete said. At 6-feet-7-inches tall (and 220 pounds), it’s not surprising that Pete found basketball of interest, and his dual interests in baseball and basketball helped earn him the chance to attend college.

He was granted a scholarship to attend LeMoyne College, a liberal arts college founded by Jesuits and located in Dewitt and Syracuse, New York. It’s where Hoy works as of 2010 as assistant baseball coach – the pitching coach – in the LeMoyne athletics program.

Explaining that Canada didn’t offer athletic scholarships to college, he said, “I always wanted to go down to the States to go to school and to play whatever sport it was that I wanted to play. When I came here [LeMoyne], I was supposed to play basketball and baseball but I wasn’t going to go into the NBA so I focused on baseball.” In the summer of 1987 he played for the Chatham A’s in the Cape Cod League in Massachusetts. “I didn’t have a great year,” he reported, “but it was a good experience.” He was a history major, in the class of 1989, admittedly “not the greatest student that there was. I had more interest in baseball than school.” Drafted in 1988, after his third year of college, it was only after he completed his pro career than he went back and finished up his degree – taking the final year’s worth of his course work at the University of Mississippi (where his fiancée was working at the time) and then transferring the credits to LeMoyne.

Pitching for LeMoyne in the late 1980s, he had three very good seasons with the LeMoyne Dolphins, with an ERA that never went above 1.60. His junior year saw a 6-1 record and a 1.26 ERA. The team won the area championship with a 31-3 season and Hoy was well-scouted. “Everyone would come in to see me, but not a lot of people were really enamored with me,” he readily admitted. “I did very well, but I never had a tremendous arm. I was more of a sinkerball pitcher.” He was good enough, though, that the Boston Red Sox took him in the 33rd round – and ultimately good enough to make the major leagues. Red Sox scout Erwin Bryant is credited with signing Hoy, though it wasn’t the result of any long courtship. “I don’t think I ever spoke to him before the draft,” Hoy said. “You know, the draft was a little different back then. It wasn’t like you could follow it on the Internet. It was a three-day thing and I had never heard anything until after the third day. I didn’t know what had happened.” Pete admitted to being a bit disappointed at the time that the Expos hadn’t taken him first.

Bryant called and said the Red Sox had selected him, then called back within a week or so to make an offer. But Pete didn’t start his professional career until 1989. First up were the Seoul Olympics. Hoy was one of six pitchers with Team Canada, and to maintain his amateur standing (still essential at the time), he delayed his signing until after the round-the-world trip that Team Canada embarked upon. Baseball was a demonstration sport at the time, so the competition in Seoul was limited to just three games. Canada lost the first two games, so was out of the running, but then beat Team USA with a comeback win, after Jim Abbott had started the game. Hoy himself didn’t get the opportunity to pitch in the three games. Before Korea, Team Canada had played in Italy, The Netherlands, and Japan. Forgoing his senior year of college wasn’t that difficult a decision for him, he told the Kingston Whig-Standard. “I can always return for that one year of school, but when’s the next time I’ll get drafted by the Boston Red Sox or get the opportunity to represent my country at the Olympic Games?”

In the spring of 1989 Hoy joined the Red Sox for spring training and stayed on in Winter Haven, Florida, for extended spring training. His initial salary was a reported $700 per month. He knew he had some work to do. Around the time of his signing, his fastball was clocked at 86 mph, and he knew he had to work to get it up to 90. In June, he headed to Elmira, New York, and got in a lot of work, 118 innings for the Pioneers in the Class A short-season New York-Penn League. His 2.82 ERA helped earn him a promotion the following year (1990) to the Winter Haven Red Sox, Class A advanced ball. His record looks dismal (2-10) but the earned-run average was a respectable 3.56. He started slowly, struggling for the first two-thirds of the season, but he “made a change in my arm slot and then I pitched well the last month or two.” One of his Pioneers teammates was Canadian Paul Quantrill (who had a 2-5 record for himself). Dropping his arm slot down near the end of the 1990 had given Hoy “a lot more movement on my fastball. I was successful and then I went to Instructional League at the end of 1990.”

In 1991 Hoy had an excellent year, with a 1.46 ERA for the New Britain Red Sox (Double-A) and a 2.38 ERA for the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox. “I thought that was the best year I had ever thrown. That was a fun year, because in Pawtucket we had a good team, we had a lot of good players, and it was the first time I had played on a winner in the minor leagues. We got to go to the playoffs and stuff, so that was an exciting year.” Columbus took the International League playoffs, however, three games to none.

It probably helped that PawSox skipper Butch Hobson was named to manage the big-league club and Hobson brought Pawtucket pitching coach Rich Gale with him. “I kind of moved up with them. At least I was comfortable with them. I made the team out of spring training.” He was under no illusions, though. “I was the 11th guy on a veteran staff. I had a good spring, and I was excited to make the team. Then we got into the season. You know, you get a few more offdays in April and we had some rain. I didn’t get a chance to pitch as much as everybody wants to pitch. Then when I did pitch, I really didn’t pitch that well. It was kind of an exciting time, but frustrating time because you’re not getting a chance to pitch as much as you’d like but then when you do. … I just wasn’t able to pitch as well as I would have liked.”

There really wasn’t a lot of room on the pitching staff. Roger Clemens was the ace, of course. Frank Viola was there. Lefty Joe Hesketh had eight years of major-league experience. And John Dopson had five, though he was recovering from arm surgery the previous August and started the season on the disabled list. The bullpen was fairly experienced as well, with Danny Darwin, Jeff Reardon, Tony Fossas, and Greg Harris.“I was like the only young guy.” Catching were Tony Pena, John Marzano, and Hoy’s roommate, John Flaherty. Marzano was hurt in spring training and Flaherty filled in, but wasn’t sure how long he’d be up, so he and Hoy rented a place halfway between Pawtucket and Boston.

They’d both made the team, though. There was another Canadian on Boston’s 25-man roster – right-handed starting pitcher Mike Gardiner of Sarnia, Ontario, who had completed his first season with the Red Sox in 1991. Quantrill, from London, Ontario, was a third Ontario resident on Boston’s spring training pitching staff; he just missed the cut, though he was later called up and debuted in June. Hoy threw 10 innings in eight Grapefruit League games, with a 3.37 ERA.

It didn’t take long for Pete Hoy to get his first chance to face major-league batters in competition play. In the Red Sox’ third game of the season, in Cleveland, the starter, Joe Hesketh faced 23 batters over the first five innings, allowing three runs on eight hits and a walk. With the Red Sox leading 5-3, Hobson asked Hoy to pitch the sixth. It was the Indians’ home opener, and there were 65,813 fans packing Cleveland Stadium. Hoy got Paul Sorrento to fly out to center, then gave up back-to-back singles, but induced a double play to get him out of the inning. Tom Bolton started the seventh and couldn’t get an out. The Indians tied it up and the game went on for a long, long time – into the 19th inning – before Boston scored twice on Tim Naehring’s home run, and Mike Gardiner closed it out.

“My first game at Fenway, I didn’t pitch well. I came in and gave up a couple of hits … actually three hits in a row, and got taken out.” It was against the Orioles, on April 15. Gardiner had started. A double, a double, and a single, and the Orioles had tied up the game, but the Red Sox’ second baseman, Jody Reed, drove in two in the bottom of the eighth and Boston won, so no serious damage done. Five days later, it was in the top of the 13th and Tom Bolton had allowed the Toronto Blue Jays a go-ahead run. There was one out yet to get, and Hoy was handed the ball once more. Joe Carter singled, extending a 12-game hitting streak and driving in a second run, but Hoy then struck out Dave Winfield. The Jays won it, 6-4. Looking back on striking out a Hall of Famer is one thing; savoring it at the time wasn’t possible. “I made a bad two-strike pitch to [Carter] and gave up a base hit. … I was still mad about giving up the hit so I didn’t even get to enjoy it.”

Hoy was sent down to Pawtucket for about 10 days, then brought back up again. A May 7 appearance in Chicago was disappointing. He recorded four outs but gave up two hits and walked two batters, allowing one run. The White Sox won by a run, though the winning run came three innings later off Greg Harris. Pete’s final game was on May 12 against the Minnesota Twins at the Metrodome. It was his best outing, a 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth – a strikeout and two groundouts.

John Dopson’s rehab work was over, though, and the Red Sox needed the spot on the roster so Hoy was bumped back to Pawtucket on May 17. Mike Greenwell was activated the same day, so infielder Mike Brumley and Hoy made the trip together. Hoy didn’t come back, not even for another look in September. “I remember I pitched well for the first half, right through the end of June just before the All-Star break, and then all of a sudden I just kind of lasted a little bit. I didn’t pitch well after that.” There was a little frustration, one surmises, in August. After J.T. Snow of Columbus hit a homer off Hoy in eighth-inning relief, the next batter got drilled in the back. On deck at the time was Hensley “Bam-Bam” Meulens, who administered a bam to Hoy’s head and kicked off a 20-minute fracas. Hoy was suspended for four days. “I just struggled the rest of the year. I didn’t deserve to be called back up and I never had the opportunity to get called back up after that.”

His ERA with the PawSox reflects the struggles: a 4.81 mark in 73 innings of work. In 1993, after just four innings in the Florida State League advanced A level, Hoy pitched 80 innings at Double-A for the New Britain Red Sox, going 9-4 with a 3.82 earned-run average. That isn’t going to get you back to the majors. Given a last look in the spring of 1994, he was released by the Red Sox. His next game was for the Kingston Vogelzang Insurance Ponies in a senior baseball game against the Ottawa-Nepean Canadians in early May 1994; Pete relieved in both games of a doubleheader. That summer and the next he played independent league ball, for the Regina Cyclones in Saskatchewan in 1994 and the Adirondack Lumberjacks in 1995. It seemed like time to go finish up that college degree and get on with the rest of his life.

At the time of our 2009 interview, Hoy had worked full-time at LeMoyne as the pitching coach. It’s not any highly-paid position but the work is satisfying. “It’s worked out well. I’ve really enjoyed it,” he said. The Hoys have two young daughters, 5 years old and two years old as of our interview, and there is every pleasure in raising a family, Hoy said.  The baseball program has been successful as well, with eight pitchers drafted from LeMoyne through 2009 and one who signed with the Royals as a free agent.

Looking back at his brief time in the major leagues, he summed up, “It was fun. I think I got moved up when I should have got moved up and I probably got moved down when I should have moved down, so I’ve got no complaints or anything. You think you just want to … you’d just like to be in there for once or twice, it would be great, but then once you’ve done that, you kind of wish you would have stayed for a while longer. But I don’t have any regrets on what I did, and I think I was treated fairly.”

Sources

Interview with Peter Hoy done by telephone on June 17, 2009, by Bill Nowlin, and subsequent correspondence.

Kennedy, Patrick. “Making His Pitch for the Beantown Big-Time,” Kingston Whig-Standard, December 19, 1988.

Scilley, Claudia. “Ponies Face A Couple of Major Opponents in a Pre-season Split with Ottawa-Nepean,” Kingston Whig-Standard, May 9, 1994.

Unattributed author, “Sox Add Another Canadian to Staff,” Ottawa Citizen, April 1, 1992.

Unattributed author, “Canadian Hoy Suspended Four Days after Ball Brawl,” Toronto Star, August 5, 1992.

Thanks to Tom Hawthorn for supplying all the Canadian newspaper articles.

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