I started writing this post thinking that today was the 41st anniversary of the trade where the Yankees acquired reliever Sparky Lyle from the Red Sox for 1B/3B Danny Cater and player to be named later, but I was wrong; that trade was made on March 22, 1972. Today is actually the 41st anniversary of the “naming of the PTBNL”; infielder Mario Guerrero was sent from AAA Syracuse to AAA Louisville to finish off the deal.
Screw it, I’m finishing this post anyway.
Sparky Lyle is a very rare type of player: He’s a Yankee I kinda like. It helps that he was a Yankee when I was young and naïve and liked both New York teams.
Sparky was one of the dominant closers of the 1970’s and won the Cy Young award while helping the team win the World Seies in 1977. How did the Yankees show their appreciation for their award-winning reliever? They signed Goose Gossage to a big contract and gave him the closer job. This is the kind of crap that drove me away from the Yankees (although, let’s be honest, my being driven away from the Yankees was inevitable).
The acquisition of Gossage obviously didn’t make Sparky happy. After the 1978 season the Yankees granted his wish and sent him to the Rangers in a 10-player trade. A newswire article I found about the trade quoted Yankees president Al Rosen as saying that the key to the deal was a 19-year-old AA pitcher named Dave Righetti. Righetti would be the 1981 AL Rookie Of The Year and lead the AL in saves in 1986. It’s kinda nice to see a trade involving a key prospect where the prospects pans out. FWIW, Righetti has been the Giants’ pitching coach since 2000.
Getting back to Mr. Lyle, he’s standing in the left field corner of Shea Stadium; the Yankees played at Shea in 1974 and 1975 while extensive renovations were being done at Yankee Stadium.
I really need to read Sparky’s book about the 1978 season, “The Bronx Zoo”.