Sparky Anderson, one of the great managers of his generation, died today at his home in California. He was 76, and had been suffering through complications caused by dementia. He was, by most accounts, one of the genuinely good men in baseball. According to the obituary in the Detroit Free Press:
On trips to New York, he didn’t eat breakfast at the Tigers’ fancy hotel. He’d go across the street to Howard Johnson, where he would address his waiter by name as a friend. In countless such gestures, he succeeded in a mission he once imparted to his Hall of Fame catcher in Cincinnati, Johnny Bench: “As long as you remember where you are from, you will always know where you are going.”
Commissioner Bud Selig released this statement.
“I am truly saddened by the loss of Sparky Anderson. I have lost and all of Baseball has lost a dear friend. Sparky was a gentleman, a great baseball man and a superb ambassador for the game. Sparky won three World Series Championships with the Cincinnati Reds and the Detroit Tigers, leading several of the best teams of the last 40 years and holding the most wins as manager for both tradition-rich franchises.
“I recall with great fondness the many hours we would spend together when his Tigers came to Milwaukee. Sparky was a loyal friend, and whenever I would be dealing with difficult situations as Commissioner, he would lift my spirits, telling me to keep my head up and that I was doing the right thing.
“On behalf of our game, I send my deepest condolences to Sparky’s wife, Carol, his three children, his nine grandchildren, and to all of his fans in Cincinnati, Detroit and throughout Baseball who were touched by this great man.”
Associated Press photo