Signature Sundays posts were a staple of this blog over the last few years, but in looking back I haven\’t done one in over two months. Between the holidays and being constantly behind in trade posts I guess they\’ve just fallen off the radar. Let\’s get back on track with a nice autograph from the inaugural Topps Archives release:
Sparky Lyle made his MLB debut with the Red Sox during the 1967 “Impossible Dream” season after working his way up through the minor leagues in the seasons prior. He was left off the World Series roster that year, but it was the beginning of a successful sixteen season career. He\’d serve out of the bullpen, often times as the closer, for the next four years before being dealt to the Yankees just prior to the 1972 season.
It was with New York that Lyle really made his mark, becoming one of the most reliable relief pitchers in all of baseball during the 1970s. Sparky was the most important bullpen pitcher for the Yankees teams that won three straight pennants (and back-to-back World Series titles) in the latter half of the decade. In 1977 he was so good that he won the Cy Young Award, becoming the first AL relief pitcher to do so.
As the years, and more importantly the innings count, began to take their toll on Lyle\’s arm, the Yankees brought in Goose Gossage as the new bullpen ace and Sparky found himself dealt to the Texas Rangers. He clung on for a couple more seasons with Texas, Philadelphia, and even a few games for the White Sox at the very end of his career.
Relief pitchers never seem to command the same respect as starters, but I\’m still thankful to have this beautiful, bold, on-card autograph of one of the best of his time for my Red Sox collection. Especially since it set me back exactly $7. Gotta love COMC!