Sports Outside the Beltway

Former Baseball Manager Sparky Anderson dead at 86

He managed both the Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers to World Series Championships. He played Major League Baseball for exactly one season, 1959, with the Philadelphia Phillies. He spent a long time in the Brooklyn Dodgers organization as a player and began managing in the minor leagues in Toronto.

I grew up as a kid watching baseball in the 1960′s and 70′s, so I got many memories of Anderson led Reds teams. Though my favorite team was the New York Mets. The Reds and Mets played a NLCS in 1973. After a fight broke out between Bud Harrelson and Pete Rose, Met fans started throwing garbage on the field. Anderson pulled his team from the field for safety purposes. I didn’t blame him then or now.

Anderson was nicknamed Captain Hook because of his tendency to pull starters quickly while managing the Reds(Wouldn’t you if your best pitcher was a Don Gullet who couldn’t be worked too hard, backed up by Fred Norman, Jack Billingham, and Gary Nolan?) but in his later days he swung to the other extreme. He stuck with his mediocre starters in Detroit. RIP George Anderson.

Anderson, who directed the Big Red Machine to back-to-back championships and won another in Detroit, died Thursday from complications of dementia in Thousand Oaks, Calif. He was 76. A day earlier, his family said he’d been placed in hospice care.

Anderson was the first manager to win World Series titles in both leagues and the only manager to lead two franchises in career wins.

“Sparky was, by far, the best manager I ever played for,” said former Reds star Pete Rose, the game’s career hits leader. “He understood people better than anyone I ever met. His players loved him, he loved his players and he loved the game of baseball. There isn’t another person in baseball like Sparky Anderson. He gave his whole life to the game.”

Anderson’s teams in Cincinnati — featuring Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Rose — won crowns in 1975 and 1976 and rank among the most powerful of all-time. Led by Kirk Gibson and Alan Trammell, Anderson won with the Tigers in 1984.

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