Thursday, November 04, 2010

George "Sparky" Anderson, 1934-2010

Detroit, never short of colorful characters in the sports world, is mourning the loss of one of the most colorful. Sparky managed the 1984 Tigers to a Major League record 35-5 start and never looked back, winning the World Series against the Padres that Fall. They didn't win another Series during Sparky's tenure, but they were always competitive. He also skippered Cincinnati's "Big Red Machine" to a World Series victory in the 70's.

My favorite Sparky moment came in Game 5 of that same 1984 World Series. Goose Gossage is pitching in relief, and the Tigers' Kirk Gibson is at the plate. The San Diego manager goes to the mound.. he wants Gossage to intentionally walk Gibson. Sparky yells to Gibson incredulously,

"[Gossage] doesn't respect you! He thinks you can't hit him! He don't want to to walk you!"

(NOTE: video of this exchange exists; I've seen it a million times, but I'm damned if I can find it anywhere online.. so there's this):

That's how a great manager challenges a great player..... to be greater.

RIP, Sparky

(Image, Detroit News archives)

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