Posnanski: How Sparky Lyle sparked the trend of closer entrance music

From SABR member Joe Posnanski at MLB.com on April 19, 2018, with mention of SABR member Marty Appel:

Marty Appel wanted a rock song first. He was a rock and roll guy. But here’s the thing: He couldn’t think of a good one. This was eight years before “Hells Bells” came out, and almost 20 years before “Enter Sandman.” He played in his mind the rock and roll songs that were available to him — none quite fit.

None of those songs quite captured the majestic entrance of Sparky Lyle.

The Yankees had nothing going in 1972. The team was blah and had been blah, more or less, for a half-dozen years. They were playing in a dilapidated Yankee Stadium that would have to be renovated (forcing the team to share Shea Stadium with the Mets for two seasons). The team was boring and the fans were bored. That was the only Yankees season when they failed to draw even a million people. There was nothing happening in pinstripes.

Appel was a brand-new assistant publicist for the team, and he was dying for something to publicize; anything to get the fans going even a little bit. And he noticed: It was kind of fun when Sparky Lyle came into the game. Lyle had been a good but fairly nondescript relief pitcher for the Red Sox when Yankees general manager Lee McPhail decided to trade for him. McPhail sent first baseman Danny Cater to the Red Sox for Lyle, and immediately New York manager Ralph Houk announced, “Lyle’s my lock-up man.”

In May, Houk brought Lyle into save situations nine times, and Lyle got the save every time. Lyle’s emerging brilliance as a pitcher was fine, but what grabbed Appel was how theatrical his entrance was. A driver would pick him up from the bullpen in a pinstriped Datsun and drive him around to the Yankees’ bullpen. Then he would get out of the car, toss away his warm-up jacket, spit tobacco juice, pound his glove and stomp his way to the mound.

This was a big entrance, Appel thought. Here was Sparky Lyle arriving — by automobile no less — to save the moment, to save the day, a gunslinger coming to clean up the town, a pro wrestler coming to clear out the ring, a cavalryman coming to take the hill, a rock and roll band taking the stage.

This, Appel decided, needed music.


Read the full article here: https://www.mlb.com/news/how-sparky-lyle-launched-closer-entrance-music/c-272813672

Originally published: April 19, 2018. Last Updated: April 19, 2018.