Sparky Anderson, the famous Hall of Fame baseball manager of the Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers, passed away on Thursday at the age of 76. Sparky Anderson’s death moves me as a fan of this great game because I grew up in the age of his great success managing great players and teams. Sparky was, to put it simply, an iconic figure in the world of baseball.
Sparky Anderson won three World Series Championships, two with the Cincinnati Reds during the 1970s and another with the Detroit Tigers in 1984. Sparky Anderson had a 27 year managerial career in baseball with a record of 2194-1834 making him one of the all time great managers. But Sparky Anderson was about a lot more than winning. He had a love for the game, for his players and for playing the sport the right way. This made him a beloved public figure.
Sparky Anderson moved people profoundly. His players loved him and always played hard for him. He knew how to console and he knew how to motivate. He had unusual people skills and understood the game and respected it deeply. He gave far more than he took. He will be missed by those who knew him personally and by fans like me who just knew him from afar as a public figure we admired.
Sparky Anderson, much like Casey Stengel from my childhood days, was a man of many words who often had some truly great quips. His quotes would make you laugh and entertain you in refreshing ways. He also knew how to really have a good argument with an umpire, though he doesn’t compare to Bobby Cox in terms of getting “tossed” from games!
"People who live in the past generally are afraid to compete in the present. I've got my faults, but living in the past is not one of them. There's no future in it."
"Baseball is a simple game. If you have good players and if you keep them in the right frame of mind then the manager is a success."
"Casey (Stengel) knew his baseball. He only made it look like he was fooling around. He knew every move that was ever invented and some that we haven't even caught on to yet."
"The great thing about baseball is when you're done, you'll only tell your grandchildren the good things. If they ask me about 1989, I'll tell them I had amnesia."
"They say the first World Series is the one you remember most. No, no no. I guarantee you don't remember that one because the fantasy world you always dreamed about is suddenly real."
"Me carrying a briefcase is like a hotdog wearing earrings."
"He's (Willie Stargell) such a big strong guy he should love that porch. He's got power enough to hit home runs in any park, including Yellowstone."
"I can't believe they pay us to play baseball – something we did for free as kids."
Thanks Sparky Anderson for giving so much fun to those of us who love the great game of baseball. We will miss you.