Sparky Anderson died at the age of 76 due to complications from dementia. This is truly saddening news as Sparky is a Hall of Famer and a top five manager historically. Anderson coached the Big Red Machine and is the sixth most winning-est coach of all-time. When he retired, he was third on that list.
“Sparky was, by far, the best manager I ever played for,” said Pete Rose. “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.”
Sparky won World Series championships in 1975 and 76 with the Cincinnati Reds and in 1984 with the Detroit Tigers. He famously had a gut feeling in the even more famous World Series winning bomb off of Goose Gossage by Kirk Gibson. It is one of the most famous moments in sports history.
Sparky Anderson had a knack for getting stars to play well together. Instead of trying to be the alpha dog, Anderson backed off and let the stars do what they were signed to do; play baseball. Sparky played for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1955 for his only major league season. He was a terrible player, but certainly not a terrible manager.
Sparky Anderson’s rise to the managerial position with the Reds was a shock to many fans. Sparky who? Was the question uttered by many astounded baseball fans. Anderson fueled the city of Detroit after many miserable seasons in which all of their sports teams were horrible. In the midst of their inconsistencies, they were consistent.
Sparky Anderson managed four teams to 100 wins. He won five pennants and three World Series titles overall. Anderson is one of the few managers to win a World Series in both leagues. He managed five All-Star games and was named Manager of the Year twice. Sparky Anderson was also an incredible person. Everyone from Bud Selig to Jack Morris loved him. In fact, there will be no funeral service upon his request. Here’s to Sparky Anderson. A person that is a true legend of the league.