Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sparky Lyle (#311)

Here is the rookie card for relief pitcher Albert "Sparky" Lyle.

Lyle made his major-league debut with the Red Sox on July 4, 1967, and appeared in 27 games over the rest of the season, as the Sox made their way to the World Series. Lyle was not included on a "Red Sox Rookie Stars" card, nor on a last-series "AL Rookie Stars" card in the 1967 set.

Even more amazing is that he was also left out of the 1968 set, despite his 1967 performance. Sparky was with Boston for the entire 1968 season, pitching in 49 games. (Other notable rookies not in the 1968 set include Reggie Jackson, Del Unser, and Bobby Bonds.)

Lyle was signed by the Orioles in June 1964, and was primarily a starter in his first season. That fall, the Red Sox selected him in the 1st-year player draft, and converted him to a reliever in 1965. He pitched 2 1/2 seasons in Boston's farm system before he was promoted in July 1967.

In his 5 seasons with Boston, Sparky pitched 260 games, all in relief. During Spring training in 1972, he was traded to the Yankees for first baseman Danny Cater and shortstop Mario Guerrero.

Lyle was the Yankees' bullpen ace for the next 7 seasons, collecting 141 saves with New York. He led the AL in saves in 1972 (35) and 1976 (23). In 1977 he led the AL in games pitched (72) and won the Cy Young award. He pitched in the post-season in '76, '77, and '78.

After the 1978 season, he was traded to the Rangers in a 5-for-5 deal that sent pitcher Dave Righetti to the Bronx. Lyle was with Texas for almost 2 years, pitching behind closer Jim Kern.

In mid-September 1980, he was acquired by the Phillies to help push them to the post-season. He compiled a 1.93 ERA in 10 games during the last two weeks of the season, but he joined the team too late to be eligible for the post-season.

Lyle remained with the Phillies until he was sold to the White Sox in August 1982. He was released after the season, ending his 16-year career.

Sparky managed in the unaffiliated Atlantic League from 1998-2001.


Brandon said...

It's a shame such a colorful player like Lyle gets a blase portrait picture. I guess thats my love/hate feelings for this set

Jim from Downingtown said...

It sure wasn't worth the 2-year wait.

Unknown said...

Probably the worst trade in Red Sox history-

Anonymous said...

Sparky just doesn't look right without the mustache!