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Sparky Lyle – 1973 Topps #394

Albert Walter “Sparky” Lyle(born July 22, 1944) is an American former left-handed relief pitcher who spent sixteen seasons in Major League Baseball. He was a closer from 1969 to 1977, first for the Boston Red Sox and then the New York Yankees. A three-time All-Star, he won the American League Cy Young Award in 1977. He was most famous for co-authoring with Peter Golenbock The Bronx Zoo, a 1979 tell-all book which chronicled the dissension within the Yankees in its World Series Championship seasons of 1977 and 1978. Despite the fact Lyle had won the 1977 Cy Young Award, the Yankees signed Goose Gossage as a free agent during the 1977 off-season, and Gossage followed with an outstanding 1978 season which made Lyle expendable. On November 10, 1978, Lyle was part of a major trade that sent him, along with four other players and cash, to the Texas Rangers in exchange for Juan Beníquez and four other players, including a young Dave Righetti. During the 1978 season, Yankees teammate Graig Nettles famously quipped that Lyle went “from Cy Young to sayonara.” On August 21, 1982, he was purchased by the Chicago White Sox from the Phillies. His last game was played on September 27 of that season for the White Sox, who released him on October 12. Lyle finished his 16-year career with 238 saves, a 2.88 ERA, and a record of 99-76 in 899 games pitched — all in relief. In 1985, Fingers broke his American League record for career saves; and in 1991 Righetti surpassed Lyle’s major-league record for career saves by a left-hander, though Lyle still holds the AL mark of 232. Lyle has been a manager of the Somerset Patriots,a baseball team of the Atlantic League, since 1998.

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