Sparky Lyle, [WORD ILLEGIBLE]-armed southpaw whose rescue operations saved the East title for the New York Yankees, became the first relief pitcher in American League history to win the Cy Young Award today. He outpointed three-time winner Jim palmer of Baltimore in a balloting of the Baseball writers Association of America.
Another postseason baseball honor today was accorded Oriole manager Earl Weaver, named American League manager of the year in an Associated Press poll of sports writers and broadcasters.
But there was bad news for Dave Bristol, fired as manager of the Atlanta Braves.
The 33-year-old Lyle, who saived 26 games and posted a 13-5 record with a 2.17 earned run average in 72 appearances during the regular season, received nine first place votes and 56 1/2 points to defeat Palmer by 8 1/2 points in the most diversified balloting in the history of the award. Nine pitchers received votes from the 23 voting members of the BBWAA - two from each AL city - and Lyle won despite being left off 13 ballots.
The only other relief pitcher to win a Cy Young Award was Mike Marshall of the National League's Los Angeles Dodges in 1974.
"I was shaking when I heard I'd won the award. It was the first time I've ever been nervous," confessed the normally cool and confident Lyle, reached by telephone at his Demarest, N.J., home. "There had been talk I was a candidate but I knew the only other relief pitcher ever to win a Cy Young was Mike Marshall and i wasn't in 110 games.
"I was hoping very much. Baseball has given me everything that I have and it's amazing that you keep getting more and more. Someday I hope I can give something back to the game."
Palmer, a 20-game winner for the seventh time and winner of the Cy Young award the previous two seasons, had six first-place votes and 48 points to nose strikeout specialist Nolan Ryan of the California Angels for second place.
Voters were asked to choose three pitchers in order of preference and points were awarded on the basis of five for a first place mention, three for second and one for third. Lyle and Bill Campbell of Boston each split one third-place vote, accounting for the one-half vote in each player's total.
Weaver led the baltimore orioles to 97 victories and a surprising second-place Eastern Division tie with the Boston Red Sox.
"It's certainly an honor, and I'm proud," Weaver said, "but it's a tribute to the Baltimore organization and the ballplayers. Nothing counts unless the guys a manager calls on to do the job can do it."
Weaver received 248 votes. Whitey Herrog of the Western Division champion Kansas City Royals was a distant runner-up with 54 votes.
Chicago's Bob Lemon, who had the White Sox in contention in the West most of the season, was third with 52, followed by Billy Martin of the Yanks at 38. Martin won the award last year with the Yanks and in 1974 with the Texas Rangers.
Billy Hunter, a longtime Weaver coach who rallied the Rangers after becoming their fourth manager of 1977 in July, garnered 12 votes in the balloting. Don Zimmer of the Boston Red Sox was named on seven ballots and Gene Mauch of the Minnesota Twins received the remaining five.
"It seems like a lot of times the voters look for a dark horse," Weaver said before heading to Hilton Head, S.C., and Hialeah, Fla., for a month's vacation. "But I think the honor belongs to the winner."
Weaver expressed similar feelings when the voters overlooked him back in 1969-71 when the Orioles won a league record 318 games in three consecutive seasons and advanced to the World Series each time.
Bristol is credited with helping build the Cincinnati Reds into a baseball power, but he managed Atlanta to two cellar seasons.
The hot-tempered Bristol, who also managed the Milwaukee Brewers during his major league career, has been offered a job as a special assistant to Braves Director of Player Personnel Bill Lucas, a team spokesman said in announcing the firing.