Steve Lyons (baseball)

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Steve Lyons
Steve Lyons 2013.jpg
Lyons in April 2013
Outfielder / Infielder
Born: (1960-06-03) June 3, 1960 (age 54)
Tacoma, Washington
Batted: Left Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 15, 1985 for the Boston Red Sox
Last MLB appearance
October 3, 1993 for the Boston Red Sox
Career statistics
Batting average .252
Hits 545
Runs batted in 196
Teams

Stephen John Lyons (born June 3, 1960) is a former Major League Baseball player and a television sportscaster. He is of French and Irish descent, and currently resides in Hermosa Beach, California.

He was initially an outfielder and third baseman, but found a niche as a utility player. He played 9 seasons in the majors, from 1985 to 1993, during which he was released a number of times. After his retirement, he became a television baseball commentator.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Lyons was born in Tacoma, Washington, and grew up in Eugene and Beaverton, Oregon. He graduated from Beaverton High School in 1978, and attended Oregon State on a partial baseball scholarship. After his junior year, Lyons was a first round draft pick (19th overall) by the Boston Red Sox in 1981.

Professional career[edit]

Lyons made his major league debut in April 1985 at age 24.

He was traded to the Chicago White Sox for pitcher Tom Seaver in June 1986. After 5 seasons with the White Sox, he returned to the Red Sox in 1991. In 1992, his playing time diminished as he shuffled from the Atlanta Braves to the Montreal Expos and back to the Red Sox for a third time. In 1993 Lyons was with the Chicago Cubs during spring training, and was picked up once again by the Red Sox in May. This was his final season as a player.

Lyons has the rare distinction of having played at all 9 positions on the field at the major league level, although in an exhibition game. He also appeared as a designated hitter and pinch hitter. He appeared twice as a pitcher in relief, giving up 4 hits, 4 walks, and 1 run in 3 innings (for a 3.00 ERA).

His career batting totals included a .252 batting average, 19 home runs, and 196 RBIs.

Eccentricities[edit]

Lyons' colorful personality earned him the nickname "Psycho." He was known for such eccentricities as playing tic-tac-toe and hangman with his spikes in the infield dirt during games.

His most remembered incident occurred at Tiger Stadium in Detroit on a Monday night in 1990. In a televised game played on July 16, he created a stir that was replayed countless times. After sliding headfirst into first base to beat out a bunt hit, Lyons pulled down his pants to empty the dirt out and brush off his shirttail. After a few seconds (and a reaction from the crowd of over 14,000), he realized what he had just done and quickly pulled them up, humorously embarrassed. Although wearing sliding shorts under his White Sox uniform, this incident earned him another nickname, "Moon Man" Lyons. At the end of the inning, women in the stands waved dollar bills at him as he came to the dugout.

And the jokes began:

No one had ever dropped his drawers on the field. Not Wally Moon. Not Blue Moon Odom. Not even Heinie Manush.

wrote one columnist. Within 24 hours of the "exposure," he received more exposure than he'd gotten his entire career: seven live television and approximately 20 radio interviews. Lyons himself once stated:

We've got this pitcher, Mélido Pérez, who earlier this month pitched a no-hitter, and I'll guarantee you he didn't do two live television shots afterwards. I pull my pants down, and I do seven. Something's pretty skewed toward the zany in this game.

Broadcasting career[edit]

After his retirement from the playing field, Lyons became a color analyst for Fox Sports' MLB coverage in 1996, working first in a studio pregame show (with Chip Caray and Keith Olbermann) and later on game coverage (usually with Thom Brennaman). He called several Division Series and League Championship Series telecasts for the network.

Lyons was fired by Fox Sports on October 14, 2006 for making ethnically insensitive comments during his broadcast of a 2006 postseason game.

He was part of the Arizona Diamondbacks' broadcast crew in 2003-04, and from 2005-2013 served as color analyst for the Los Angeles Dodgers on Prime Ticket and KCAL on television broadcasts originating from outside the NL West,[1] broadcasting first alongside Charley Steiner and then Eric Collins. He also co-hosted the Dodgers pre-game and post-game shows for Prime Ticket. Lyons made his debut video game appearance as a broadcaster in All-Star Baseball 2005 along with Thom Brennaman.

In 2014, Lyons joined NESN as a Red Sox studio analyst.

Controversial remarks while broadcasting[edit]

Lyons has been known to make ethnically insensitive comments on multiple occasions; for example, implying that it was okay if a Japanese journalist's camera was smashed by Hideki Irabu, because as an Asian journalist must have half a dozen spares.

Lyons maligned outfielder Shawn Green, who is Jewish, for sitting out a game on Yom Kippur in 2004, saying:

He’s not even a practicing Jew. He didn’t marry a Jewish girl. And from what I understand, he never had a bar mitzvah, which is unfortunate, because he doesn’t get the money.

Lyons was suspended briefly without pay after his remarks, and the network apologized for Lyons' comments, though Lyons never made an on-air apology.[2]

In August 2006, while working an Angels-Yankees game, Lyons discussed Italian American Yankees' catcher Sal Fasano, and the fact that he had to shave his moustache to accommodate owner George Steinbrenner's grooming code. Responding to a comment by his fellow Fox sportscaster about how one doesn't want to cross Fasano, Lyons replied:[3]

Well, you know, Fasano is the type of guy "who knows a guy that knows a guy."

Lyons and fellow sportscaster Thom Brennaman made fun of a 64-year-old New York Mets fan wearing an unusual device over his eyes at a game during Game 2 of the 2006 National League Division Series between the Mets and Dodgers, with Lyons saying:

He's got a digital camera stuck to his face.

The man turned out to be nearly blind, except for limited peripheral vision in one eye, and this headgear were special glasses (a "JORDY," a magnifying device) that allowed him limited vision with which to see the game. Brennaman later apologized to the man and his family on-air during Game 3 of the series.[2]

Fox firing[edit]

During their broadcast of Game 3 of the 2006 American League Championship Series, broadcast colleague Lou Piniella, who is of Spanish descent, used an analogy about finding a wallet, and then spoke briefly in Spanish. Lyons said Piniella was "hablaing Español" – Spanglish for "speaking Spanish" – and added, "I still can't find my wallet. I don't understand him, and I don't want to sit close to him now."[4] On October 13, 2006, Fox fired Lyons for making the remarks.[4]

Lyons was replaced for the last game of the series in Detroit by Los Angeles Angels announcer José Mota. Piniella later stated that he thought that Lyons was just "kidding" and that Lyons was, per Piniella's experience, not bigoted.[5]

On October 16, 2006, the Dodgers announced that they would keep Lyons as a commentator for their road games. The team said that they gave Lyons probationary guidelines and that he would undergo diversity training. Lyons also continued to host the Dodgers' post-game show Dodgers Live.[6]

On October 12, 2013, Lyons announced that he would not be returning to the Dodgers the following season.[7]

Autobiography[edit]

Lyons wrote an autobiography titled Steve Lyons: PSYCHOanalysis that was published in 2001. (ISBN 1-58261-360-5).

References[edit]

External links[edit]