Thursday, March 22, 2012

"Short Term Stops", #12: Sparky Lyle

1983 Topps #693 Sparky Lyle (White Sox)

Ah, theme posts, how I've missed you.

After a few madness-filled days of scanning, sorting, and blogging about my card show finds, I'm ready to get back into the regular swing of things here.

So here we go.

During the baseball offseason, I try to stay connected to the game in as many ways as I can. One of the biggest ways I've done this is through books. I have a seemingly endless array of baseball books in my room, all of which have contributed bits and pieces to my somewhat-encyclopedic knowledge of the game. 

When people ask me, "How do you know so much about baseball?", I give a one-word answer.


Last year, I picked up The Bronx Zoo by Sparky Lyle. I was kind of surprised that I hadn't read it before. Lyle recounts the Yankees' 1978 season, which of course was the year Bucky Dent became a household name.

But even without the end-of-season dramatics, the book would've been great. The fact that the Yankees went on to win the World Series that year made the final pages all the more interesting.

Lyle won the Cy Young Award in '77, but the free agent signing of fireballer "Goose" Gossage limited Lyle's role in the bullpen for the '78 season. You can clearly see Lyle's anger level rising throughout the book.

From what Lyle tells, the Bronx was indeed a "zoo" in 1978.

Not surprisingly, he was dealt to the Rangers after the '78 season. Lyle could never quite regain the magic of his '77 season, as he'd have a few mediocre years before hanging it up after the 1982 season.

He'd pitch the final 12 innings of his career with the White Sox in '82.

I still can't grasp the fact that "Sparky" once wore those ugly '80s Sox uniforms. It just looks out of place.

Although Lyle's final uniform may not be that great, his final card is one of my favorites from the 1983 Topps set. We see Lyle in what is presumably a warm-up session, pitching to a blurred White Sox catcher in the background, patiently waiting for the pitch on one knee.

These days, it seems as though Lyle is more remembered for his tell-all book than his baseball career. I'm still not sure if that's a good or bad thing. All I know is that I learned quite a bit from The Bronx Zoo. It's always fun reading about an era of baseball which I didn't get to experience.

All throughout my life, I've always enjoyed getting lost in a good book.

Especially when it's about baseball.


topher (Crackin Wax/Varsity Trading Cards) said...

Sorry, I can't remember what you just wrote. I've been too distracted by that GAWDAWFUL ChiSox uni.

Hackenbush said...

The Sox sure did like picking up aging pitchers back in the day. Seaver, Carlton and Koosman all wore that uniform, too. Any other notables I'm forgetting?