Flashback Friday: 7,118 at Goodland (1964)

A photo taken across the street from Goodland Field. This picture was snapped during a game on August 4, 1964. The Foxes set an Appleton Professional Baseball attendance record that stood until 2003 in this game. (Appleton Baseball Archives)

By Chris Mehring / Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | February 18, 2011 6:37 AM ET

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The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers set a Time Warner Cable Field attendance record of 7,722 on July 23, 2003.  That shattered the old record for the home of the Timber Rattlers.  But, until earlier this year, I didn't realize the size of the Appleton Professional Baseball record.  Then, I discovered the picture up top in an old program.

This week's Flashback takes us back to August 4, 1964, the day that the Foxes drew 7,118 fans to Goodland Field for a game against the Quad Cities Angels.

Terry Galvin has the game story and the story about the Appleton debut of a future member of The Bronx Zoo in the August 5, 1964 edition of The Post-Crescent.

7,118 Fans See Foxes Capture 10th in a Row
Record Throng Watches Newcomer Lyle Hurl 4-Hit, 6-1 Win Over Angels

A record-shattering throng of 7,118 witnessed the Foxes' most recently acquired pitcher, Al (Sparky) Lyle, fire a blistering 4-hitter as the Foxes notched a 6-1 victory over the Quad Cities Angels.

The victory was the 10th straight for the Billy DeMars-managed contingent and boosted its Midwest League lead to 2-1/2 games over the QC Angels.

The anticipated plate onslaught of the Rick Reichardt-led Angels never materialized as Lyle performed flawlessly before the record-breaking crowd.  Reichardt went 0-for-4 at the plate, striking out once.  He grounded out the other three times up, once each to the mound, shortstop and second sacker.

Record Crowd

Berken's Piggly Wiggly night attracted the record attendance.  The crowd is the largest in the Foxes' 7-year history and is thought to be the largest in pro baseball history here.

The Foxes and second-place Quad Cities will square off again tonight at 8pm at Goodland Field.  Max Patkin, the clown prince of baseball will be on hand to entertain fans.  DeMars has given the starting nod to Tom Zink, 7-5 for the season, in tonight's home stand windup.

Lyle, a curve-balling (that seemed to break at least two feet or more) southpaw, fanned 11 and walked four.  He came to the Foxes Tuesday afternoon from Bluefield of the Appalachian League.

The hard-throwing, slim lefty hurled shutout ball until two were out in the ninth inning.  A walk and force out left a runner on first.  Pinch-hitter George Pena doubled to right to score the runner.

The Foxes broke loose for all the runs they needed (five) in the second inning.  Successive walks to Fred Rico, Steve Huntz and Stan Walters jammed the sacks with no outs.  Ray Woitkowski send starter and loser Les Mundel to the showers with a line double (ground rule) down the left field line for two scores.

John Burrows greeted reliever Harry Cutter with a sharp single to Reichardt in center field.  Walters scored easily from third and Reichardt attempted to nail Woitkowski at the plate.  The throw from the highly-touted bonus baby sailed over catcher Pete Gongola's head for an error.  Woitkowskiscored easily and Burrows wound up on third.

Burrows scored moments later on a wild pitch for a 5-0 advantage.

Dave May rapped a single to left to open the Foxes' third.  May stole second and advanced to third on a bloop single by Huntz.  Walters forced HUntz at second with May crossing the plate on the play for a 6-0 edge.

That was it for the Foxes and it seemed as though Lyle had the Angels under control...until the ninth anyway.

FOX TALES - Rick Reichardt was honored by the Stevens Point Kiwanis Club prior to the start of Tuesday's game.  A 55-man - woman - child delegation from Point were on hand to witness one of Reichardt's poorest performances in professional baseball.  The former UW gridiron and diamond star went 0-for-4 and had one error.  A routine fly ball to leftcenter in the third inning by Bob Lewandowski resulted in Reichardt's colliding with leftfielder Terry Tackett.  Reichardt, however, managed to make the catch.

Lloyd Berken, owner of the two Piggly Wiggly stores in Appleton and sponsor of the booster game, thanked fans for turning out to make the night an overwhelming success.

Berken quickly added, "It would be nice to see most you (fans) out here every night that the Foxes are in town."

Henry King and Steve Caria, Foxes' hurlers, will be ready for action whenever necessary according to Billy DeMars.  Both have been temporarily shelved with sore arms.

The large crowd was responsible, in part, for an argument in the third inning when the Foxes broke loose for five runs.  Woitkowski's double down the line in left bounced into the crowd (seated inside the fence up to the foul line) and bounced back onto the playing field.  DeMars claimed that the ball was in play and should not be ruled a ground rule double.  Needless to say, the umpires stood by their ruling of the automatic double.


Jitters Fail to Stop Lyle's Top Showing in Foxes' Debut

Who is Allen (Sparky) Lyle?

Lyle is the Foxes most recent acquisition from Bluefield of the Appalachian League.  Lyle racked up a 3-2 log there this season, his first in organized baseball.  He had worked 40 innings.

A southpaw by trade, Lyle was extremely nervous prior to the start of Tuesday's Fox Cities-Quad Cities baseball game.

"Why?"  The youngster arrived on the Fox Cities scene at 3pm Monday and was immediately greeted by Manager Billy DeMars of the Fox Cities Foxes.

DeMars' words were: "Hi, Al. Welcome to Appleton.  By the way you're pitching tomorrow (Tuesday) night."

Lyle was astonished at DeMars' words.  His thoughts ranged from the Foxes' 8-game victory string (at that time and now a 10-game skein) to the possibility of pitching before a large crowd.

Has Jitters

Lyle's pre-game jitters lasted (according to Lyle himself) until the bottom of the third inning.  "I was shaking like a leaf," he said.

"I felt real good.  It had been about six days since I worked at Bluefield and I was ready to go, all the way."

Lyle, a native of Reynoldsvill, Pa. (about 100 miles from the Pittsburgh Pirates and Forbes Field), was planning on telephoning his father at home immediately after arriving here, but decided to wait until after Tuesday's game.

The hard-working, curve-balling lefthander, who appeared before a crowd of "about 400" once, showed no signs of stress or strain before the 7,118 as he blanked the Quad Cities Angels  for 8-2/3 innings en route to the Foxes' 10th win in succession.

But Lyle finished with a 6-1 victory, allowing only four hits and four walks and striking out 11.

An accomplishment such as Lyle's, under the pressure of 7,118 watchful pairs of eyes and with the responsibility of extending a 9-game victory string, is certainly something to call home about.  And that is exactly what Sparky did.


QUAD CITIES - 1   AB    R     H     BI
McCraw, ss        5     0     0     0
Reichardt, cf     4     0     0     0
Gongola, c        4     0     1     0
Egan, 3b          4     0     0     0
Wilkinson, 2b     4     0     0     0
Sollami, rf       2     0     0     0
Tackett, lf       0     0     0     0
Hinkle, lf        3     0     0     0
Vinson, 1b        3     1     1     0
Mundel, p         0     0     0     0
Cutter, p         2     0     0     0
Carubia, ph       1     0     1     0
Milne, p          0     0     0     0
Pena, ph          1     0     1     1
Meyers, pr        0     0     0     0

TOTALS            33    1     4     1

FOX CITIES - 6    AB    R     H     BI
Lewandowski, 2b   4     0     2     0
J. Matias, 1b     4     0     1     0
May, lf           4     1     1     0
Rico, rf          3     1     0     0
Huntz, ss         3     1     2     0
Walters, 3b       3     1     0     1
Burrows, c        4     1     2     1
Waitkowski, cf    4     1     1     2
Lyle, p           3     0     0     0

TOTALS            36    6     9     4

                        R     H     E

QC    000 000 001 -     1     4     1
FC    051 000 00x -     6     9     2

E - Reichardt, Waitkowski, Huntz. 2b - Waitkowski, Matias, Pena. DP - QC - 1.  LOB - QC 0; FC - 4. SB - May, Lewandowski.

Pitching Summary

FOX CITIES  IP    H     R     ER    BB    SO
Lyle, W     9     4     1     1     4     11

QUAD CITIES IP    H     R     ER    BB    SO
Mundel*, L  1     2     4     3     3     1
Cutter      5     6     2     1     0     6
Milne       2     1     0     0     0     2

WP - Cutter, Lyle 2. PB - Gongola, Burrows. Time - 2:19. Attendance - 7,118. *-Faced four men in 2nd inning


Seats on the field in foul territory. THAT explains how they fit that many people into Goodland Field.

The Rick Reichardt who is mentioned several times throughout the article is a Wisconsin legend.  Reichardt was:  A schoolboy legend at P.J. Jacobs High School in Stevens Point who earned 12 varsity letters; A fullback on the University of Wisconsin team that won the 1962 Big Ten title and barely lost to Southern Cal in the 1963 Rose Bowl; The Big Ten leader in receptions in 1963; The Big Ten leader in batting average in 1963 and 1964;   The Big Ten leader in home runs in 1963; The top collegiate player of the year in 1964; The player who signed the biggest bonus ever (to that point - $200,000, Remember, this was one year before the entry draft was started).  Reichardt is in the UW Athletic Hall of Fame and the Stevens Point Area Senior High School Hall of Fame.  Wisconsin legend may be an understatement.

Al "Sparky" Lyle made a very good debut for the Foxes.  Lyle would go 3-1 in six starts for the Fox Cities.  But, those would be the last games he played in the Baltimore system.  In November of 1964, Boston took Lyle in a draft and he would make it to the big leagues with the Red Sox in 1967.

Lyle would gain his greatest fame with the New York Yankees, a team he played for from 1972-1978.  In 1977, Lyle won the American League Cy Young Award.  In 1978, he paired up with another former Appleton Baseball Professional ballplayer when Goose Gossage joined the Yankees.

Sparky Lyle was also known for co-writing one of the definitive baseball books of the 1970's.  He and Peter Golenbock wrote The Bronx Zoo: The Astonishing Inside Story of the 1978 World Champion New York Yankees.

Lyle is now managing the Somerset Patriots in the independent Atlantic League.  He has been their only manager since coming into existence in 1998.  Former Timber Rattlers third baseman Matt Hagen ('03) has played for Lyle and the Patriots in since 2008.  The Pats have won five Atlantic League Championships with Lyle as the manager, most recently in 2008 and 2009.

Speaking of championships, the Foxes won the second half of the Midwest League split schedule in 1964 with a 42-21 record.  They went on to beat Clinton in the Championship Game.

Past Flashbacks:

October 8: In fair territory (1994)

October 15: Fans flock to see Foxes (1987)

October 22: New Park (1995)

October 29: Logo Decision (1994)

November 5: Ed Sedar, Pitcher (1985)

November 12: Abarbanel no-hitter (1966)

November 19: McCauley no-hitter (1972)

November 26: Monroe no-hitter (1975)

December 3: Conner, Smith no-hitter (1990)

December 10: Pomp & Circumstance (1940)

December 17: Opening Day (1940)

January 7: Matt Erickson: Year One (1997)

January 14: Two Hits, Two Wins (1982)

January 21: Gil Meche (1998, 1999)

January 28: 18 K's for Ryan Anderson (1998)

February 4: Goodland Field Finale (1994)

February 11: Goodbye, Goodland (1994)

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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