Monday, November 19, 2007


I will never forget that image as long as I live. Steve Lyons slides into first base, gets up and starts dusting himself off. A few seconds later I see the unbuckling of pants. I think to myself that he's brushing dirt off and tucking his shirt back in. No big deal. Then I see bare thigh and a quick hike up with the pants. Then Steve Lyons with a face as red as his previous Sox team in Boston. All he did then was laugh.

I can only imagine this happening to Steve Lyons. He frequently dove into first base, like a poor man's Pete Rose. I won't remember Steve Lyons in that way though. I'll remember him as the player who played every position in meaningless exhibition game against the Cubs. I'll remember him high-fiving a fan who caught a foul ball. I'll remember him as a player who tried to make the game fun and always seemed like he was having a good time, even if you weren't in on the joke.

I chose to showcase his 1990 Fleer card for two reasons. In my opinion, it was his most successful year and he always reminded me of Nellie Fox in this photo. The way the shadows hit his face made me think of the wad of chewing tobacco that always seemed to be in Nellie's mouth. He also looks like a pretty decent guy in the photo. The sky makes him look larger than life and he seems confident like a superhero. This is definitely my favorite card of Steve Lyons.

There's only one way he'll be remembered as a player. Bunting to get on base on July 16, 1990. Steve's called safe. The Tiger's pitcher disagrees and argues with the umpire. Steve feels something down his leg. He pulls his pants down and brushes away the dirt. Then the crowd goes ballistic.

Steve was one of the bright spots in a lot of the bad Sox teams of the late 80's. He was also part of the resurgence in 1990 that almost got the Sox into the playoffs. The White Sox had two no-hitters that year. Melido Perez had one. Andy Hawkins of the Yankees had the other. The Sox won both games. That is how special the 1990 team was. But since they didn't make the playoffs, Steve Lyons is the one thing that sticks out from that season.

After the self-pantsing, women would sit behind the Sox dugout waving dollar bills and calling out to him. This is the strange world of Steve Lyons. One that is self created, but strange nonetheless. I wonder if he ever got any women's phone numbers from that.

The sad thing is now that may get overshadowed by something Steve did off the field, in the broadcast booth during the 2006 playoffs. He was making comments about Lou Piniella "hablaing Espanol" and said shortly afterward, "I still can't find my wallet." Then Steve compounded everything by saying, "I don't understand him, and I don't want to sit too close to him now". He was promptly fired for making racial comments that Fox Sports found inappropriate.

Still, I will fondly remember Steve Lyons as a player who always had a smile, always cared for the fan and always made every play seem like the most important of his career.


Tragik007 said...

I'm Hispanic and wasn't offended. People are just too PC these days.
Steve was just another bad comedian.

Any chances he'll get hired elsewhere?

Steve Gierman said...

I'm sure he'll find someplace to go when people stop remembering. I really didn't see what the big deal was either. I'm not Hispanic, but I don't know anyone who took offense to those remarks. I didn't notice them when he made them and I remember thinking, "What does that mean?"

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