Hoyt was an unknown pitcher struggling in the Yankee farm system sent to the White Sox along with Oscar Gamble and Bob Polinsky on April 5, 1976. In return the Yanks received Bucky Dent. The deal was roundly criticized in Chicago, but it ultimately paid dividends. Hoyt began his ML career in 1980 in Chicago’s bullpen. In 1982 he was put into the rotation with startling success. He won his first nine decisions to equal a White Sox record set by Lefty Williams in 1917 and Orval Grove in 1943, and finished 19-15, leading the AL in wins. As a starter, his already sharp control became almost unbelievable; he walked only 48 batters in 239.2 innings.
As good as he’d been, Hoyt improved in every way to lead Chicago to the AL West title in 1983. He was 15-2 after the All-Star break, en route to a landslide Cy Young Award. Hoyt walked just 31 batters that year, four of which were intentional. The total was just three more than Cy Young‘s record of 28, set in 1904. His 24 victories paced the AL for the second year in a row, and in the ALCS he tossed a five-hitter against Baltimore in the opener to claim Chicago’s only win.
Hoyt faltered along with the rest of the White Sox team in 1984. He did fire a one-hitter against the Yankees on May 2 in Comiskey Park, allowing only a scratch single to Don Mattingly. Hoyt gave up 31 homers in 1984, second-highest in the league, and after the season he was traded to San Diego with two minor leaguers for Tim Lollar, Ozzie Guillen, Bill Long, and Luis Salazar.
Hoyt was 16-8 in his first season with the Padres, and started the 1985 All-Star Game for the NL. By 1986, however, a lingering drug problem came to light, and he was suspended by Commissioner Peter Uebberoth for one year in 1987. Hoyt was invited to try out for the White Sox in 1988 following his 45-day stay in prison, but he was arrested again after law-enforcement officials uncovered a cache of marijuana and cocaine in his Columbia, South Carolina apartment. He began his second prison term on February 21, 1988.