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The Bronx Zoo: The Astonishing Inside Story of the 1978 World Champion New York Yankees Paperback – April 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Triumph Books (April 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1572437154
  • ISBN-13: 978-1572437159
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 6.2 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #654,606 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

After winning the American League Cy Young Award in 1977, Lyle, a left-handed reliever, was rewarded with a place on the bench as the high-spending New York Yankees acquired Goose Gossage from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bad news for him, good luck for us, as the bullpen bench was the perfect perch from which to observe the wild 1978 season, in which the Yankees overcame a 14-game midsummer deficit and a midseason managerial change to win the pennant and their second consecutive World Series. Would Lyle have written the book if he’d had more playing time? It’s an intriguing question. The quality of the prose isn’t great, but it definitely has spark. As he recounts fights, firings, pranks, and even baseball games, offering forthright assessments of Reggie Jackson, George Steinbrenner, and Billy Martin (the last fares best), Lyle seemingly can’t help but offer his honest opinion on all of it. And the following season? Strangely enough, Lyle finally got what he wanted most of all, a trade to another team. Frankly fascinating and forthrightly funny. --Keir Graff

About the Author

Sparky Lyle is a former left-handed relief pitcher who spent 16 seasons in Major League Baseball. A three-time All-Star, he won the American League Cy Young Award in 1977. He was most famous for coauthoring The Bronx Zoo, a 1979 tell-all book that chronicled the dissension within the Yankees in its World Series Championship seasons of 1977 and 1978. Peter Golenbock is a sports journalist and author.


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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 38 customer reviews
The descriptions of the antics make you laugh.
Michael Sivilli
It makes the stuff that swirled around the 2006 Yankees seem like agate type for the tabloids.
Best Of All
Lyle's account of the 1978 Yankee season is funny and enlightening.
Marc Ranger

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Canuck in WA on March 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
Though I grew up a total Yankee Hater (and was 15 yrs old when this season took place), the book ranks right up there with "Thin Ice - A Season in Hell with the New York Rangers" as a top quality read for a baseball focus. Probably the best thing about this book is how Golenbock and Lyle are able to put a real personal touch to some of the Yanks that played on that team that year. Nettles is a total cut-up, Munson is a real gamer, Jackson is a media hog, Billy Martin is part psychotic and part genius, and Ron Guidry is the quiet, yet dominating athlete that just goes out and does his job. Some of the more amusing antedotes are the ones involving Fritz Peterson in Lyle's earlier days, and Rawley Eastwick's escapades in the present day. Previous reviews talk about Lyle being "whiny", and I can agree with that perception. It's kind of hard to relate to someone complaining about his stature in life as a professional baseball player, when Joe Schmoe is out there trying to eeke out a living doing whatever. But I have to admit that if you had won a Cy Young the previous year before and all of a sudden was relegated to "mop-up" status, it would be a blow to one's pride. But the book does hit its mark on one thing . .the perception of George Steinbrenner is TOTALLY dead-on.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Best Of All on October 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
First, the problems with the reprint of the best-seller that opened up a wealth of first-person accounts of those wild years with the Yankees:

* Sparky Lyle was not in favor of having the book reissued;

* There is not any new material and the typographical mistakes remain from the first edition;

* Unless you followed baseball in the 1970s or have an appreciation of baseball history, you may have trouble following the personalities and situations chronicled.

My rating is based on the controversy that exploded surrounding Lyle's candid accounts of the crazy 1978 season. Lyle does not shy away from the seemingly daily madness of The Boss, Reggie, Billy, and the closer wars of Goose and the co-author. It makes the stuff that swirled around the 2006 Yankees seem like agate type for the tabloids.

In the spring, Peter Golenbock was pushing the book pretty hard on local and national sports talk shows. I wish he would have done more than just put a nearly 30 year old sports book back in print.

But even the professional laziness of Golenbock cannot lesson the importance that book had in chronicling the Yankees and on Lyle's pitching career. The following season, Lyle was on the mound for the Texas Rangers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By geegit on September 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Lyle's book is terrific. It starts off a bit slowly, but once he really gets started this book becomes great. The thing I thought was most interesting anout the book was looking at the game and the controversies surrounding it from the players' point of view as opposed to the media's. This book clearly brings out many of the differences between what we read about in the papers and what is actually going on in the clubhouse.
You also gain an appreciation for players that is difficult to get by just looking at the stats. When you look at the way Lyle respects Munson and Nettles for giving it their all and playing through pain, you see that there's a lot more to value with those guys than simply the number of homeruns they hit.
And, like "dnamed Yankees" by Bill Madden and Moss Klein and most of the other books that discuss this era, you get a good look at what George Steinbrenner is all about, especially when Lyle discusses the tumultous relationship between Steinbrenner and Billy Martin. Steinbrenner has learned a lot since then (or has he?), but it's interesting to see how he dealt with issues back then.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By m_noland on November 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book follows the "Ball Four" formula of a seasonal diary, in this case the 1978 season through the eyes of Sparky Lyle. And what a season it was - Lyle goes from Cy Young award winner to set-up man as he is beat out for the closer job by the younger, faster, stronger Goose Gossage. At the same time Lyle is trying to deal with his professional decline, the Yankees make an astounding comeback, catch the Red Sox, beat the Royals in the ALCS and then win the World Series defeating the Dodgers. But the real focus of the book (or at least Lyle's attention) is off-the-field - especially the interaction with Yankee owner George Steinbrenner and Lyle's demands to salvage his professional honor and career. In a sort of sad post-script Lyle got his wish and was traded to the Rangers, yet never reattained the form that made him the Cy Young winner in 1977.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sugafoot on January 30, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sparky Lyle was one of the greatest relief pitchers in the history of baseball, and he would always make his entry from the bullpen accompanied by the song "pomp and circumstance." In this tell all memoir he describes the inner workings of the Yankee dynasty of the late 70's, how Reggie Jackson was a glory hound and pathological liar. And the managerial blunders of Yankee owner George Steinbrenner. This is baseball from the inside.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Larry Underwood on October 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
Sparky Lyle's diary of the 1978 season, while pitching for the World Champion New York Yankees was an interesting tale, but far less compelling than the guy who may have inspired his idea; Jim Bouton, who wrote the original iconoclastic baseball memoir, Ball Four, during the 1969 season.

Clearly, the Yankees were the big story in baseball in 1978; the tumultuous trio of George Steinbrenner, Billy Martin & Reggie Jackson were constantly bickering, yet somehow managed to put everything together during a remarkable late season comeback that shocked the Boston Red Sox in a one game playoff at Fenway Park. Who can forget the improbable home run hit by the unlikeliest of players, Bucky Bleepin' Dent, to secure the American League division title for New York?

Of course, before all that craziness occurred, there was the daily soap opera going on inside the Yankees organization; Lyle himself, the previous year's Cy Young Award winner suddenly found himself in a mere supporting role for the new closer, Goose Gossage. Where Lyle loses a lot of credibility is his selfish reaction to the situation, as he whined and sulked about the injustice of being replaced. Big deal, Sparky; that's baseball. Someone with superior skills has taken over the closer's role; live with it, and be a team player; try to contribute when called upon. Maybe you'd rather drive a truck or operate a forklift for a living?

Despite the petiness Lyle displays over his diminished role on the ballclub, he's a very witty guy and some of his observations during that wild and wooly season were hilarious.
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