Thursday, November 4, 2010


Legendary Tigers manager Sparky Anderson dies at 76 | | Detroit Free Press

It's strange to have feelings of loss come over you when a person you don't know, never met wouldn't know you if you walked up to him with an I'm "my name here" T-shirt dies.

It was that way with Ernie and George Kell. And it's that way again today.

I do actually remember who managed the Tigers before Sparky. Ralph Houk had a run in the late 70s and Sparky replaced Les Moss halfway through a season.

For my younger years, the Tigers had been bad. I missed, in blissful toddler ignorance, the '68 WS champions and the Billy-ball early 70s teams.

The Tigers were mostly non-descript with a tinge of if you squint real hard and ignore their all too often failures, they look like actual baseball players. I'm thinking Steve Kemp and Jason Thompson as the great symbols of that era. It wasn't until the statistical revolution that I came to realize exactly how god awful Auerlio Rodriguez really was.

Sparky ended the era of non-descriptness immediately. Now, he had Trammell and Whitaker and Parrish and Morris and Petry and Gibson et al but Sparky was the brand. The FoF if you will.

He just gave you a sense that the Tigers meant something, they were no longer doormats, they would scrap and claw and be in games. Never had a sense in the decade of the 80s, that the team was ever going in the wrong direction. And our guy wasn't going to be outmanaged nor would he back down from a fight.

Maybe that was his greatest quality -- he looked and sounded like an avuncular great uncle who would tell stories and display his knowledge and love of baseball at will but you always knew under the exterior there was an iron will and a perfectly formed set of principles which were unbending.

He'd play around with you but you knew there were limits and they would not be crossed. Not that you really ever wanted to. It seemed like a world of wisdom had been won at a great price based on the lines on his face. He came upon his knowledge and principles the hard way under a thousand summer suns on dirt infields all over the country and you could say what you wanted but he knew best (and you knew it too.)

Mostly, as a fan, Sparky made baseball fun. He was having fun, he was enjoying it and wanted everyone else to share it. You can't ask much more out of a baseball manager but to say he made being a fan a much more rewarding and entertaining experience.

Godspeed #11

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