The baseball world lost a great ambassador today in George "Sparky" Anderson, as the legendary manager passed away at the age of 76. Earlier this season, Anderson, who lived in Southern California for most of his life, stopped by Dodger Stadium when the Tigers were in town to play the Dodgers. It was an awesome moment, as Joe Torre stopped short his meeting with reporters when he noticed Anderson on the field talking to Detroit manager Jim Leyland. On the field stood nearly 6,000 wins, 13 pennants, and eight World Series wins. It was a joy just being nearby, able to snap this picture:â†µ
Anderson managed The Big Red Machine, the biggest rival of the Dodgers in the 1970s, but how I remember Sparky is as manager of the Detroit Tigers. I can still remember Game 5 of the 1984 World Series, with future Dodger hero Kirk Gibson at the plate with two runners on and a one-run lead in the eighth inning. Goose Gossage and Padres' manager Dick Williams were talking on the mound, and Anderson was yelling to Gibson from the dugout, "he don't want to walk you," almost giddy as he said it. Sure enough, Williams let Gossage pitch to Gibson, who deposited a three-run home run to put the game out of reach in what was the series clincher for Detroit.â†µ
Earlier today, the USC athletic department released a photo of the 1948 Trojans baseball team, the first USC team to win the College World Series (they defeated a Yale team, which had George H.W. Bush, in the finals). Serving as batboy for that team was a young George Anderson (in the white t-shirt in the front row):â†µ
Anderson was a great manager, a great man, and he will be sorely missed. Rest in peace, Sparky.