Before the start of the 2017 Atlantic League All-Star Game Home Run Derby, Wednesday, media interviews were held with New York Yankees broadcaster John Sterling and former players Willie Randolph and Spark Lyle in the first base dugout of the Liberty Division team.
In his 27th season as the play-by-play voice of the Yankees, Sterling got the nod for Honorary Voice for the 2017 Atlantic League All-Star Game at TD Bank Ballpark. On his impression of the All-Star Game and minor league baseball, Sterling said, “This is fun, kind of like grassroots baseball compared to Yankee Stadium and I understand why people love this because it’s the right cost, you have fun and clean baseball.”
On TD Bank Ballpark, “It’s terrific, everything it should be, great stands and with all the commercial boards that have been sold. It’s a business and would not work, you would not have a league.”
Randolph, serving as honorary manager for the Freedom Division, spent 13 of his 18 Major League Baseball seasons with the Bronx Bombers, a part of the 1977 and 1978 World Series Championship teams. He was also a base and bench coach for 11 seasons. From 2005 until 2008, he managed the New York Mets.
“I have been out here many times and a beautiful night for a ball game,” he added. “These kids just need to have the opportunity and are here for different circumstances and reasons. To be a professional baseball player you have to be pretty good, catch a break and be hot at the right time.”
On the possibility of managing in the Atlantic League, “It could be something in the future but right now I’m trying to get back into the league. If the window closes, it could be something in the future but I’m focusing more on family and welcoming a granddaughter and traveling. There is nothing like playing, but coaching is the next big thing.”
On the other hand, Lyle, serving as the honorary manager of the Liberty Division, managed the host Somerset Patriots for 15 seasons, guiding them to five Atlantic League Championships and winning Manager of the Year three times. Lyle played for the Yankees from 1972-78 and was part of the three consecutive pennants from 1976-78 and back-to-back World Series Championship teams. In 1977, Lyle won the Cy Young Award.
“We have come a long way since 1998 and hosting our third All-Star Game and the Atlantic League has come to fruition from what we thought it would be and it was going to be from the very beginning and getting guys back to organizations that is over 800 guys and reason we started the league,” said Lyle.
“I love it, these guys come over here and work hard, trying to get back to organizations. The money is not that good but if you play here, this is your big chance or second chance to get back to an organization. This is really good baseball.”