I know I haven’t posted much recently, but I plan on fixing that shortly. In the meantime, though, I wanted to acknowledge some very sad news that was announced this afternoon: Sparky Anderson, World Series-winning manager of the Big Red Machine and the 1980s Detroit Tigers, passed away today at barely 76-years old. For anyone who watched baseball in any way in the ’80s (or the ’70s, I suppose), it was hard not to be fascinated with the white-haired, grizzled Anderson. How many other managers had a nickname anyway?! He looked more like he should be dishing grandfetherly advice to the kids in the stands, not managing line-ups and arguing with umpires.
I expect I’ll have more to say about Sparky tonight or tomorrow morning. He’s just too interesting of a character not to dig into his career a little more. Until then, I just wanted to remind everyone of the best story I ever heard about Sparky. I wrote about this last December after playing through the Sporting News archives:
As James became more and more widely read and accepted in the 1980s, his name started cropping up more and more – in letters, in editorials, in team recaps/reviews. I’ll leave you with my favorite of the early-1980s mentions of Bill James. Don’t forget to check out SABR’s website for membership information so you too can have access to this fantastic resource.
From the May 14, 1984, issue of TSN, in the “Caught on the Fly” section:
Bill James, author of “Baseball Abstract”, offered some stinging criticism of Tigers Manager Sparky Anderson along with his statistical theories in the 1984 edition. “He’s a fat little guy with a beard who has no knowledge of anything,” countered Anderson. James stood his ground during an interview on a Detroit radio station. He said Anderson’s managing had cost the Tigers “100 wins” in his first five years in Detroit. “You want to see how stupid he is?” said Anderson of James, whom he has never met. “From what he says, we should be 475-226. No team ever played at that percentage over a five-year period.”
Is that not the best story? (Okay, I’m sure there are better… I still like it.)
Baseball lost a good one today. Sparky will be missed all around baseball, not just Cincinnati and Detroit.