Golden Baseball Magazine
July 11, 2017

Quotation

"Emphatically, I have no desire or ambition to become a manager. A manager is subject to almost constant criticism. So much of it is unfair, I simply couldn't stomach it."

Ted Williams in 1960, nine years before he became manager of the Washington Senators
Ted compiled a 273-364 record in four years with the Senators

Cardinals Clubhouse

Profile: Rogers Hornsby - I

It isn't often that a Class D player is jumped straight to the majors. But the financially-challenged Cardinals did it.

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The Ultimate Game

2011: Rangers @ Cardinals

St. Louis rallied several times when just a strike away from defeat in Game Six to set up the winner-take-all final.

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Almost Heroes

Arky Vaughan

No one remembers that the Pirates' SS hit two two-run homers in the 1941 All Star Game.


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Even the Greats Have Bad Days

Tom Glavine's ineffectiveness helped the Mets blow the 2007 NL East lead.


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How Would You Rule?

Catcher interference on a two-run triple

Baseball Quiz

Who am I?

The Bronx Zoo
The Bronx Zoo: The Astonighing Inside Story of the 1978 World Champion New York Yankees,Sparky Lyle with Peter Golenbock (1979)
I was on a team that won the pennant and the World Series, despite enough crap to last an entire career, and now that I've won the Cy Young Award everyone can say that Sparky Lyle was an important part of that team. ...

The best thing that happened to me was finishing the final two games of the play-offs against Kansas City and right after that winning the first game of the World Series against the Dodgers. The Royals were leading us in the play-offs, two games to one, and they needed only one more game to win. In the fourth game we were ahead 4-0 real quick, but in the fourth Reggie Jackson screwed up a couple of balls in the outfield, the Royals scored two runs, and with two outs and a runner on, Billy [Martin] brought me in. Ordinarily the fourth inning is much too early to bring me into a game. I'm a short relief pitcher. I pitch in the eighth and ninth when there's a lead that has to be protected. I'm the last resort, the guy who has to put his finger in the dike every night. But I guess Billy was desperate, so he brought me in in the fourth.

As I was warming up in the bullpen, Fred Stanley, our backup shortstop, was catching me, and when pitching coach Art Fowler called from the dugout and asked how I looked, Fred told him, "Sparky ain't got nothin', Art."

Billy brought me in anyway, and when I got out to the mound and threw my warm-up pitches, my slider suddenly started to work right, and for the next five innings, it was the Royals who didn't have nothin'. I faced 16 batters and got 15 outs.
 
L-R: Sparky Lyle, Reggie Jackson and Billy Martin
I knew that the Royals weren't going to beat me. I had told [my wife] Mary, "I can't pitch in games when we're real far behind or ahead. I'm just not into the game." ... The best time for me to pitch is when we're ahead by a run or the score is tied. When the game is on the line. Against the Royals I was ahead by a run, and Mary was telling me that she was sitting in the stands watching me, and when everybody was hollering for the Yankees to score a few more runs, she was thinking, "No, I don't want them to score more runs." Later she told me, "I knew you weren't going to lose that game. You only had a one-run lead." And she was right.

After the game, the writers asked me, "Can you pitch again tomorrow?" I said, "Only four or five innings. After that, I might start getting tired." They laughed. They must have figured I was joking. We were losing 3-2 going into the top of the ninth of the final game. Paul Blair singled. Roy White walked, and Mickey Rivers singled up the middle to drive in a run to tie it. Willie Randolph drove in Roy with a long fly to put us ahead, and after we scored a fifth run, Billy brought me in to pitch the bottom of the ninth and end it.

I got the first guy out real quick, then the next guy up got a base hit. We were in Kansas City, and with Freddie Patek, their shortstop, up, everybody in the stands was ranting and raving and going crazy. Thurman [Munson] dropped the sign down, I threw Patek a slider, and he hit a nice one-hop­per to Graig Nettles at third, and that was it. A perfect double-play ball. Graig didn't even have to move. He caught it chest high, threw to Randolph at second, and bang, bang, it was over. All I remember is raising my arms high and jumping straight up in the air. Thurman started hugging me, and then there was a big pile of players around me. It was a great feeling, be­cause we had battled our asses off to win that pennant. ... All season long, we never gave up. ...

Also, what was important to me about our winning that game was that if we had lost, I am convinced that George Steinbrenner ... would have fired Billy. There had been talk the last couple of weeks, yet despite the talk, Billy still benched Reggie Jackson in the final game, because the Royals were throwing a tough left-handed pitcher, Paul Splittorff, and Reggie doesn't hit the tough lefties. Billy knows that, too, and he decided to play Blair instead. Ordinarily it's no big deal when a manager does something like that, but last winter George had paid Reggie $2,930,000 to play for the Yankees, and George wasn't paying Reggie all that money to sit on the bench. When we heard Reggie wasn't going to start, we thought, "This guy" - meaning Billy - "has some balls." But then again, Billy and George had been fighting all year, usually after a fight between Billy and Reggie. And talk that Billy was going to get fired had popped up so often that after a while we stopped paying any attention to it. It was getting in the way of our playing. When Billy benched Reggie against Splittorff, my only reaction was "We'll be a stronger team with someone else playing right field and with someone else batting fourth against this guy." With him or without him, I knew the Royals weren't going to beat us.