George Lee “Sparky” Anderson, manager of the Cincinnati Reds’ 1975 and 1976 World Series squads, as well as the man behind 1984′s wire-to-wire AL East triumph and subsequent World Series sweep for Detroit, has passed away at the age of 76 in Thousand Oaks, CA. For more than a few insights into Anderson’s character, you could do far worse than Joe Posnaski’s terrific, ‘The Machine’, or if you’re pressed for time and prefer to focus on Anderson’s last managerial tenure, you could opt for the recollections of the Detroit Free Press’ Drew Sharp who insists, “We should never forget how much nationally Sparky became an extension of this city.”
He made being a Tigers fan cool again, even though the team struggled in those early days. Who cared if the Tigers lost? Did you see Sparky™s theatrics when he complained to the umpires?
It was a big deal when the Tigers landed him in 1979. Before names such as Trammell, Whitaker, Gibson and Parrish became synonymous with 35-5 and the Series trophy, Sparky was the first piece in restoring baseball credibility in Detroit. He was the main attraction when victories were scarce.
How many managers elicit a roar from the crowd simply for taking the lineup card to home plate? And he™d always tip his cap.