SOM Week: Recap & Sparky Lyle!
Welcome to the end of "SOM Week"! Today we share my favorite story and give a recap for each post from this past week!
Sparky Lyle wearing the Patriots home uniform in 2017
(Photo: Filip Bondy/New York Times)
I've already shared 3 stories about my time in the press box between getting to see the behind-the-scenes work in the Yankees organization with Hawk-Eye, the troubles of trying to get onto the team WI-FI network, and seeing how they do the MLB.com/MiLB.com gamecasts. However, I saved the best story for last.
As I shared on Saturday (link below), there is no shortage of indication that this team is supported by former Yankees great reliever- and arguably the man who sparked the reliever renaissance in baseball- Sparky Lyle. Not only is the team mascot named after him (and also sports a similar mustache), and not only do you hear and see things about Sparky Lyle all over the place, but Sparky Lyle himself seems to be present at every game. He's constantly participating and interacting with fans, doing so with a smile and making the days of the fans.
It's a very special thing getting to see Sparky Lyle stop and take a photo with a family. Watching on, you can see the parents look to Sparky Lyle with awe, remembering what he did for the Yankees and baseball in the 1970's. To their kids, they likely heard stories about the great Sparky Lyle in the car while driving to the game and are amazed to get to meet a real baseball player. And you see this over, and over, and over again. It's awesome. (I'd know, because he stopped and took a photo with me the last time I visited the Somerset Patriots back in 2017.)
But, you never get to see Sparky Lyle take a break.
Well, unless you sit in the press box.
And, no. This is not a slander piece on Sparky Lyle. Don't get discouraged if you're a fan of his. (On that same note, don't get disappointed if you weren't a fan of his.)
So, there I am. WI-FI-less in the press box, trying to jot down as much information as I can so that it can look like I belong at the game. I'm actively looking up the box score on my phone (before I found the sheet handouts) in order to type up each players name in the lineups I just created on a word document. And, in steps Sparky Lyle.
Now, in the press box they do provide free food (mainly hot dogs and french fries) and they have a refrigerator with free drinks (mainly: water, sodas, and powerade). I had previously grabbed a Dr. Pepper to treat myself with. Sparky Lyle, upon entering the press box went straight for the fridge and pulled out his premade cucumber water in a gallon Poland Spring bottle.
At this point, I turned around to see who was behind me, hoping it was a new face that I'd get to ask "Hey, any chance you know the WI-FI password?". At no point did I expect to see Sparky Lyle standing there. And, needless to say, in the moment my brain quickly reverted away from asking him if he knew some silly password. Instead, my brain said the only thing it could think of.
"Hey Mr. Lyle. How're you doing?"
To which he gave me a nice smile, a nod, and a, "Doing good."
Well, if that wasn't cool enough, he then stuck around for a little bit, taking the time to talk with a fellow guy in the press box who must've been an old friend. Obviously, this put pressure on me to look extra busy as to not want to make it appear I was freeloading on the Somerset Patriots hospitality, which ultimately led me to finding the rosters and scorecard for the game...even though I had no pencil to take notes with. (Note-to-self: Always carry a pen in your bag.)
So, as I stuck around the press box for a few innings, taking my notes about the game, in addition to getting to watch a baseball game I also got to hear about Sparky Lyle's golf game. Turns out, last Friday was a pretty good day on the course as (from what I heard) he hit mostly fairways off the tee. Credit to him. I'm hoping to do the same today!
I don't think many other people get to experience that. It was cool to be there.
Thanks for checking in as I was able to share a lot of stories, prospect performances, and my opinions about a variety of different baseball related things this week! It's always a blast getting to go to games in person and I was thrilled to be welcomed so nicely by the Somerset staff last week.
Best of luck to the team, and the players in the Double A Championship Series!
Game 2 (against the Erie SeaWolves of Detroit Tigers affiliation) is in Somerset on Tuesday (9/27) at 6:35 PM, and Game 3 (if neccessary) is also at Somerset on Wednesday (9/28) at 6:35 PM!
For other articles in this series, check these posts:
Saturday - Somerset Patriots & TD Bank Park
Tuesday - Trey Sweeney, the Infield, and More!
Wednesday - Austin Wells, Catching/DH, and More!
Thursday - Clayton Beeter, and the Pitching!