Is that Sparky Lyle? Yup. That’s him.
Legendary Cy Young award winning major league relief pitcher who pitched his way to an exemplary career with Boston, New York and Philly. For the past few weeks I’ve been making the rounds with my colleague from Chasing News, Jessica Nutt to minor league ballparks around the Garden State.
The plan is the same for each park…scout out the best food, get on the field to interview the players, throw the first pitch and join the broadcast team in the booth for a few outs. We’ve had some of the best ballpark food around, the Thunderdog in Trenton, the pulled pork nachos in Lakewood (complete with souvenir helmet!) and the make your own cheesesteak in Somerset. All terrific. As much as I love to eat, and value a good cheesesteak, the highlight of the visit to Somerset was the chat with Sparky Lyle. Down to earth, nice guy clearly thrilled to still be a part of the baseball world. He served as the manager of the team for 15 years until recently being named as the manager emeritus.
We talked about his career and he told a great story about the day the Pete Rose borrowed his bat during Rose’s chase of Stan Musial’s National League batting title in 1981.
The funny part of the story happened after I introduced Sparky to Jessica and she pulled him to home plate for a quick Chasing News interview. Hse asked the legendary pitcher is he had some advice for me as my last few first pitches, well, they didn’t go that well…
Of course he did. “Tell him to throw at the catcher’s nose.” It’s not often that you get pitching advice from a Cy Young award winner. So I took it and, well, see for yourself.
— Jessica Nutt (@ChasingJessNutt) June 14, 2016
OK, a little high, but, hey, I’m not a pitcher…I just occasionally play one on TV.