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George “Sparky” Anderson

Born: 1934-02-22 - Died: 2010-11-04
Cause of Death:
Deteriorating Dementia Condition


Death Summary: Anderson died in his home, under hospice care, after a long fight with dementia.

Who was George “Sparky” Anderson : George "Sparky" Anderson lived up to his nickname by being known as one of the more energetic, and lively personalities in baseball. Along with his personality, Anderson amassed many accolades. He managed 2 different teams to 3 World Series victories, while being only 1 of 2 managers in MLB history to do it with a AL and NL team. He's also 6th on the all-time win list for managers.

While Anderson had a legendary career, his beginnings were humble. Born in Bridgewater, South Dakota, he entered baseball right out of high school. In his early days, Anderson moved from team to team and played for a wide variety of minor league ballclubs. Finally, upon a trade to the Philadelphia Phillies, Anderson received his first shot at a starting role in the MLB. However, it wasn't a success as he batted a .218 AVG, had only 34 RBIs, and received 0 home runs.

Though he might not have been a success playing the game, he was immediately blessed as a coach. He received his first coaching stint at the age of 30, in 1964. The next year he coached the Rock Hill Cardinals to a pennant win, and would do so for the next four years. This success led him to the majors, where he was part of the coaching staff for the San Diego Padres in 1969. Then, Anderson received the offer of a lifetime. He was asked to replace Dave Bristol as the manager for the Cincinnati Reds.

Upon receiving the job, headlines for various newspapers read "Sparky Who? , due to him being relatively unknown in the big leagues. This didn't stop Anderson from leading the Reds to a 102 game winning season, and helping to get the Reds a National League pennant in his debut. After his first year, and until he was let go, the Reds came to be known as the 'Big Red Machine'.

After the 1970 pennant winning season, the same performance would be repeated in 1972 though the Reds would lose to the Oakland Athletics in the World Series. The club's hallmark year would come in 1975, when the Reds won 102 games, swept the NLCS, and eventually beat the Boston Red Sox in a drama filled seven-game series. They would repeat the same exact record in 1976, and beat the New York Yankees for the World Series.

While his stint with the Reds would be enough for many MLB managers, it's only one part of the story. In 1979, Anderson would be fired by the Red's new general manager, Dick Wagner. Upon being fired, Anderson was almost immediately hired by the Detroit Tigers. Having a bit of fun from being fired, Anderson made a guest appearance on the show 'WKRP in Cincinnati'. The episode had him play a disc jockey who was fired, to which his character said, "I must be crazy. Every time I come to (Cincinnati) I get fired!"

Though he was able to laugh off the firing, his coaching tenure with the Detroit Tigers was anything but a joke. He might not have had a red hot start like he did with the Reds, however, he did improve the Tiger's record in the first three seasons. In 1984, he led the Tigers to a MLB record 35-5 start. This led to the Tigers finishing 104-58, which is a Detroit Tigers record. Later in the season, the Tigers swept the Kansas City Royals for the ALCS, and beat the San Diego Padres in five games for the World Series. He would finish his managing career with the Tigers. Even though he would never capture the 1985 season magic again, he kept the Tigers in contention for a few years afterward.

Anderson retired in 1995, to which he almost instantly entered broadcasting, as he was known as a masterful orator. His big personality, which was as legendary as his coaching had him build his players up and worked well in the announcing booth.

Anderson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000. He was inducted as a Red, and wore a Reds hat for the ceremony. He wore it in honor for Bob Howsam, who took a chance on hiring him in 1970. The same year, Anderson was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and had his jersey number (#10) retired. A day was also held in Detroit, at Comerica Park for Anderson in 2000 as well. Though his jersey (#11) has never been officially retired in Detroit, no one has used it since he retired.

Anderson is survived by his wife, two sons, a daughter, and nine grandchildren.
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5 Signatures in George “Sparky” Anderson's guestbook

  1. tiffany Says:

    hi

  2. Lisa Palmgren Hogg Says:

    …So Very sorry to hear of the Loss to the World…God will take good care of them….Their Passing is Never easy…I know..It is never easy..Blessings to the Family…
    Sincerely,Lisa Palmgren Hogg

  3. John Hammer Says:

    To the man i admired! The reason i became a REDS fan! and still am today!

  4. Sasquatch Says:

    I respected and admired Sparky as much as I did Ernie Harwell. There will NEVER be another Sparky, rest in peace…….

  5. Sergey Says:

    None of that really makes the game of belabasl any more complicated than any other sport. That’s just the same sort of statistical analysis that happens any time adults get paid huge amounts of money to play a game. Even something as stupid and boring as soccer features statisticians figuring out how to maximize scoring in given situations.I think what it really comes down to for me in the Which Sport is More Complex? argument is the sheer number of moving bodies in any given play. Every single football play features 22 guys going at it, each doing their individual task. Even the most complex belabasl situation numbers-wise (bases loaded), only features 13 active players. And let’s be honest, most of them will just be standing around holding a glove.Of course, I’m having a hard time arguing against belabasl. It’s my lifelong favorite sport and I’d take a World Series victory over a Super Bowl win any year (which is good since I’m a Bengals fan).


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