In Major League Baseball, pitchers have always taken a large responsibility as the most important player on the field while they are playing. With so much responsibility laying on the pitchers, there is also a lot of praise available for pitchers that are dominant. While the MVP is generally given to a hitter, it is often the Cy Young Award that receives more notoriety. Because the Cy Young Award is such a prestigious award, the winners throughout the years are still remembered for their greatness during their Cy Young seasons.
The winner of the 1977 Cy Young Award was Spark Lyle. Lyle was born in DuBois, Pennsylvania in July of 1944.
Interestingly enough, Lyle was the Cy Young Award winner, but he was not a starting pitcher when he won the award. This is very rarely the case as starting pitchers generally will pitch a much larger number of games than relief pitchers. In his Cy Young Award winning season he was the closer for the New York Yankees.
During that season he managed to finish out 60 games for New York. While pitching in the end of so many games he had a lot of opportunities to win games, lose games and save games. He managed to pull out 13 victories over the course of the year and lost just 5 games. He also brought in 26 saves. He pitched for 137 innings out of the bullpen and posted an impressive ERA of 2.17 for the Yankees.
While most dominant relievers today are strikeout pitchers, this was not the case for Lyle. He pitched 1390.1 innings over the course of his career, but he only struck out 873 batters. This meant that he relied on his control to keep batters from hitting him hard by forcing ground balls and pop flies.
Over the course of his career, Lyle pitched for many different teams. He spent the first 5 seasons of his career with the Boston Red Sox. He moved on to play with the Yankees from 1972 until 1978. After playing with the Yankees he played with the Rangers for 2 seasons and the Phillies for 3 seasons. He finished off his career with the White Sox, but only pitched in 11 games as he was acquired from the Phillies during the course of the season.
His career stats were very impressive, especially for a relief pitcher. Despite never starting a game over the course of his career he managed to win 99 games while losing 76. He racked up 238 career saves and finished 634 games for his teams.
He was named an all-star three different times during his career and helped the Yankees win championships in 1977 and 1978.
Long after his playing career was over he decided to take a shot at becoming a manager. He has coached the Somerset Patriots since 1998 and has won the Atlantic League pennant 5 times as the manager. Since the birth of the team, he has been the only manager for the organization.