OT: The Other Side of Sparky Anderson

Submitted by MGoShoe on June 2nd, 2011 at 11:06 PM

A wonderful read about a wonderful man. Written by a sportswriter who grew up as Sparky's neighbor and played Little League with Sparky's son Lee, it provides a fascinating view of evryone's favorite Tigers manager.

There was no funeral for Sparky Anderson when he died last November. No memorial service, either. No one from the legendary baseball manager's family attended the opening day ceremonies in his honor in Cincinnati or Detroit. And no one named Anderson showed up at an awards dinner for him last week in Los Angeles.

Many in baseball are perplexed by his dying wish that his passing go without traditional observance. Understanding the reason begins with recognizing that Sparky Anderson and George Anderson -- Sparky's given name -- were vastly different sides of the same person. George administered last rites to Sparky years ago.



June 2nd, 2011 at 11:15 PM ^

everyone's favorite Tigers manager

Billy Martin and Mayo Smith > Sparky Anderson for me

Good article, though. The Post Game has some really strong stuff.


June 2nd, 2011 at 11:28 PM ^

The Sparky-and-George dichotomy is something Sparky recognized a long long time ago and even seemed to embrace.  No way of knowing that I'm not pulling this out of my ass but I suspect he realized he had to separate his personas a little bit during his 1989 sabbatical or else lose the George side.  He sort of alluded to it in his book.  Best part: Both were total, total class acts.  One of the reasons I like Jim Leyland so much is that he reminds me of Sparky.


June 3rd, 2011 at 11:43 AM ^

Yup. Also started Neifi Perez during those playoffs and batted him second in the order. Asinine. People who like him are exposing that they are casual fans who don't know a lot about baseball.

And it was before my time, but I've heard stories about Sparky using Jack Morris as a pinch-runner. Your ace pitcher? As a pinch-runner on the basepaths where guys can easily be hurt? How DUMB can one be?




June 2nd, 2011 at 11:41 PM ^

in 1995 when I was 8 years old. I'm glad I got to see just a tiny bit of what remained from the 1980s teams at the start of my fandom. Very good read about a very good manager!


June 3rd, 2011 at 12:14 AM ^

Hockeytown is an Illitch-created marketing campaign, not an accurate representation of the city's sporting interests. The Wings' popularity has more to do with them being the only consistently strong team among the big four than it does a genuine love of hockey from area residents.

The greatest coach this town has ever seen was Chuck Daly. And it's not even close.



June 3rd, 2011 at 1:12 AM ^

Read what I said and tell me how that is an "insult" to Red Wings fans. Of course there are genuine fans of hockey. I was simply making a statement on the sporting culture here in response to another poster.

Despite the Hockeytown moniker, you will hear more people talking about the Mavs-Heat in offices tomorrow than they talked about Canucks-Bruins today.



June 3rd, 2011 at 12:56 AM ^

I agree with him   The Red Wings are popular in Detroit - moreso than most NHL teams are in American cities - but they're not more popular than the Tigers or Lions.  "Hockeytown" was a successful marketing campaign, but let's not get carried away.  When the Tigers made the World Series, that was a bigger deal than any of the Stanley Cup Finals.  And if the Lions ever make the Super Bowl, it will be nuts.


June 3rd, 2011 at 1:15 AM ^

Pistons also made more noise in 2004 and 2005 than the Wings' finals appearances usually saw.

Detroit is not really out of the mainstream in its sporting interests at all. It's just a town with a remarkably consistent hockey club while the other three franchises have had some pretty ugly periods in recent years.



June 3rd, 2011 at 11:38 AM ^

Thats probably true: mainly because they haven't ever won one, nor even been in a Superbowl. If by a chance they ever do, I can see all of the diehard Lions fans going crazy.

You guys are pretty off-base about this. Detroit is a great hockeytown. The best south of Canada. We have the best American based fans. Yes, more people like basketball and football, so there could be more fans talking about those games then generic hockey games. Red Wings fans bleed for their team. I went to game 6 of the series against the Sharks and I have never been to a better sports game in my life. The place was absolutely crazy. I have been to playoff Pistons games and I went to game 3 of the Tigers series against the Yanks in 2006. That was a crazy and awesome atmosphere. Game 6 was better. Beaten all the Michigan games I ever been to. Red Wing fans are usually more knowledgeable than other fans. Red Wing fans travel more than other fans: I went to a Capitals Wings game last year in DC and over a third of the fans were wearing Wings attire. When Wings fans get in trouble for throwing octopi, they help each other at. In the playoff series against Phoenix (not most recent one but last year) a Wings fan threw an octopus onto the ice and got put into jail. He and his friends were from California and didn't have the cash to bail him out. So they went to a bar and asked Wings fans for the money to bail him out. Everyone raised the dough and then bought drinks for the guy when he got out. Draper paid a fine for one of the guys who got caught throwing an octopus onto the ice. The Wings revolutioned how the game is played by developing attacking the opponents zone with speed and puck movement that every other team now copies.

Your points are off-base because hockey is just less popular than the other sports. This is Hockeytown and we love the Wngs.


June 3rd, 2011 at 11:48 AM ^

My response was to a poster who said "Kinda weird that in hockeytown he is more popular than Scotty Bowman," which insinuates that hockey is the biggest sport here. The hockeytown moniker - again, really just a marketing campaign - did catch on nationally, and people who don't live here and follow it might think that it's the biggest team / biggest sport here.

I was pointing out the reality that it, all things being equal, it is still fourth. Just a way closer fourth than in other American cities.


June 3rd, 2011 at 12:55 PM ^

...away venues is due more to the Michigan diaspora than it is to traveling fans. Same goes for Tigers games. Not so sure that expats come out in droves for Lions and Pistons games though.

Washington is so full of non-native people that it's hardly unusual for games to have very large contingents of fans rooting for the visiting team. Most of those folks live in the DMV (or head on down from Philly to see Nats/Phillies games). Then there are the Steelers fans. They invade from within and without.


June 3rd, 2011 at 1:04 PM ^

The absolute WORST in pro sports.

So arrogant. There are stories all around the country about these cretents going into bars in cities not their own to watch their beloved Stillers, ordering water for three hours, and generally acting like they own the establishment like they are there with each other. Deplorable fan behavior.




June 3rd, 2011 at 12:58 PM ^

So don't worry.

Not only was Daly better in superficial terms (brought two championships to Detroit, not one), he blew Anderson away as a strategist while also being a great personal mentor to his players (if you saw Dennis Rodman's number retirement a few months ago, you would know how intense those players' love of Daly really is).

Sparky was given jobs in places that had loaded talent on their rosters (both Cincinnati - which FIRED him - in the 1970s, and the Tigers of the 1980s). Bill James, probably the most respected living historian of the game today, famously analyzed that the Tigers lost as many as 100 games over the course of the decade due to Anderson's poor game management. On Anderson's Cinci stint, James is quoted as saying, "He really believes that he made a winning team out of Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, George Foster and Davey Concepcion by teaching them the virtues of shiny shoes and clean upper lips."

Chuck Daly devised both the strategies and cultivated the attitude that brought down not one, but both of the 1980s dynasty squads, Magic's Lakers and Bird's Celtics, which had a monopoly on the conference and/or league crowns. And oh yeah, they also drove Michael Jordan crazy and beat him three straight years in the playoffs, holding his Bulls at bay and teaching them lessons. To break through that wall and triumph in the golden age of the NBA, arguably with inferior talent, was an extraordinary achievement.

I anxiously away your in-depth argument for Sparky. "LOLWUT?" is a hell of a start.


June 3rd, 2011 at 1:07 PM ^

An LOLWUT? post gets upvoted. My logical, examples-cited post gets negged by some little guy with a grudge.

Not that I give a damn about MGoPoints, but I'd say that's a pretty good snapshot of how far the standards on the board have diminished. Maybe Ty Duffy was right about this place.


June 3rd, 2011 at 12:20 AM ^

That's because Sparky seemed like your grandfather.

His many local tv interviews with Bernie & Carmen along with his CATCH Charity brought a real sense of closeness to Sparky, as well as his 16 years years at the helm of the Tigers.

This is in no way a knock on Scotty Bowman. Both are legendary leaders in Detroit sports history but Sparky will always be my favorite.


June 3rd, 2011 at 3:57 AM ^

You know Ididn't know about such kind of things.


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