Monday, September 24, 2012

C.A.: 1979 Topps Sparky Lyle

(Did you know that this month is "Little League Month"? ... Little League? In September? Aren't kids in school this month? Wasn't the Little League World Series LAST month? Is this like when the Atlanta Braves were in the National League West? Anyway, time for Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 160th in a series):

I am convinced, and have been for a number of years, that even if I moved to a deserted island, far, far away from organized baseball, some how, some way, the Yankees would still be part of my life.

I'm forever cursed with being forced to think about a team I hate. It will always be that way. I'm resigned to it.

Take Sparky Lyle.

Lyle was a Yankee for the most memorable part of his career and hated by me for that exact same period. But because I grew up in the Northeast where Yankee games were always available, even in the days before YES, I knew a great deal about Lyle and the rest of his Yankee teammates. They were in the papers. They were discussed by all my friends (and many of my enemies). I knew about them virtually by osmosis. They were just always THERE.

When the tell-all book "The Bronx Zoo," written by Peter Golenbock and Sparky Lyle, came out in 1979, it was coveted by everyone, even me. And I read it from cover-to-cover, even though it was about the Yankees. I may have been a Dodger fan, but it was so difficult to keep up with a team on the other side of the country in the 1970s.

With all of that Yankee knowledge, this is how I knew about Lyle's warped personality, his odd behavior of sitting bare-naked on birthday cakes, and how I came to make the connection between that strange habit and baseball cards.

I wrote a post about it more than two years ago. It got a lot of reads. Then the New York Times made reference to the post a few months later -- the link was "sitting naked in birthday cakes." The post got more reads.

Then, on Friday, I noticed that it was a huge day of readership for my blog. More than 600 pageviews. More than double the usual number. I looked into it and that old New York Times article from more than two years ago was the culprit. I thought that was odd -- it was a two-year-old article.

Then I figured it out. On Friday, Deadspin published an article about Sparky Lyle and the birth of entrance music for relief pitchers. Lyle was the first one to have his own music (the very staid "Pomp and Circumstance."). It wasn't his idea. It came from someone in the Yankees organization. In fact, Lyle said he didn't even know there was music playing when he came into the game.

The Deadspin story (warning: if you click on the link, there's a bad word featured prominently in the headline) mentions Lyle's birthday cake habit with a link back to the New York Times article, which links to my post. And that's how I got a bunch of "new readers" on Friday. Deadspin, you might know, is a wee-bit popular.

Thanks to all those clicks (and other clicks on the Lyle post when it gets mentioned in online forums from time-to-time), that post has just entered the top 10 in all-time pageviews on this blog.

That's quite a feat, because all of the other all-time pageview posts were infiltrated by web-bots. The bots latch onto any post with the word "post" in the title and any post with the word "appreciation" in the title. So every other post in the top 10 has one of those two words in the title.

It's why I stopped putting "appreciation" in the title of the Cardboard Appreciation posts. It's also why I don't put a list of my "most read" stories on the sidebar as some people do. It's not a true indication of the actual "most read" stories.

But the "What Did Topps Know About Sparky Lyle And When Did It Know It?" post is the only true "most read," or more accurately, "most clicked on" post that I have written.

In fact, if I ever made a book of my posts, I would probably make this the first post selected. People on the internet just seem to just get a kick out of bare asses on cakes. They've proven it with their clicks over and over and over again.

And here's the thing: my most popular post is not about a review of trading cards, or about a Dodger, or about a Red Sox. It's about a Yankee.

About a Yankee I disliked when I was a kid.

About that Yankee's bare butt.

Defiling a cake.

In fact, if you do a google search for "Sparky Lyle and birthday cake," my post is the second thing that pops up after Lyle's wikipedia page.

No matter what I do, the Yankees always follow.

Oh, well.

Maybe I can make money off of them some how.


  1. I hope no card companies find your Lyle posts. If you think fake jersey and manupatch cards are bad, how would you like to receive an ass used card?

  2. While I enjoy YES, I have fond memories of the old Channel 11.

    Yankees, Sienfeld reruns, and old movies. My favorite channel back in the day.

  3. As a kid, this was my baseball heaven:

    Channel 11, PIX: Phil Rizzuto, Bill White, Frank Messer

    Channel 9, WOR: Lindsey Nelson, Ralph Kiner, Bob Murphy

    and, best of all, every Saturday ...

    Channel 3, NBC Game of the Week, Joe Garagiola and Tony Kubek