What are your memories of Sparky Anderson?

November 08, 2010

Gift for gab a plus

Bill Shaikin

Los Angeles Times

It would be too simple to say that Anderson won because he lasted, although it is true players knew there would be no point in trying to undermine the manager and get him fired.

Anderson had great players, of course, especially in Cincinnati. But his genius was in making players feel good even when they faltered. The clubhouse usually opens to the media 10 minutes after a game, but Anderson would keep his clubhouse closed for 15 or 20 minutes after a tough loss. The media would first assemble in the manager's office, where Anderson took the pressure off his players by talking and talking and talking.

He talked for so long that by the time the reporters left his office, the guy that dropped the fly ball or gave up the game-winning home run might not have to explain his failure to reporters — because he might be long gone.

wshaikin@tribune.com

Treated everyone well

Paul Doyle

Hartford Courant

Sparky Anderson was in the final season of his Hall of Fame managerial career in 1995, my first season on the Red Sox beat. On a weekend trip to Detroit, Anderson held court in the home dugout as reporters came and went.

Anderson talked and talked, answered every question and treated an anonymous rookie reporter from Hartford like an old friend.

And he sometimes talked himself in circles. He overhyped players (Mike Laga, anyone?) and could laugh at himself when he misspoke. Our favorite Sparky-ism: Calling his favorite Boston restaurant "Lethal Seafood."

Yes, I still think of Anderson every time I see a Legal Sea Foods. And that leads to memories of a nice man treating everyone — from his best player to some unknown reporter — with kindness.

pdoyle@courant.com

Fun, fairness his forte

Peter Schmuck

Baltimore Sun

When I heard that Sparky Anderson had passed away last week, this is what popped into my mind:

I sure hope the angels like to talk baseball. The real angels. Not the ones in Anaheim.

George Anderson had so much enthusiasm for the game that it often bubbled over into ridiculous hyperbole. He could talk up a utility infielder into a Hall of Famer just as easily as he could massage the ego of a superstar. He was what baseball should be all about — fun and fair. He was the perfect compromise between Tommy Lasorda and Gene Mauch, because he took the game seriously but never himself.

There are still some great characters in sports, but the games people play for money have largely become a big business. Anderson never looked like he was at work. That should be his epitaph.

pschmuck@tribune.com

Passion for baseball

Mark Gonzales

Chicago Tribune

Sparky never was at a loss for words when it came to expressing his opinions.

He didn't know who the heck I was, but he gave me and another writer plenty of time at the Oakland Coliseum in 1988. The subject was comparing the fast starts of the Athletics and his 1984 Tigers. Sparky's veins were popping out of his neck, but you could sense his passion while he was stressing the ways in which his Tigers were superior to the A's.

He was explaining his reasons while the Tigers were taking batting practice. By the time Sparky finished filling our notebooks, it was only 20 minutes before first pitch. But he didn't seem to mind. We were talking baseball — a subject Sparky was passionate about and had time to talk about with anyone who was eager to listen.

mgonzales@tribune.com

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