November 04, 2010

r.i.p. sparky anderson

One of my most vivid childhood memories is being lucky enough to go down on the field for batting practice at Wrigley before an afternoon Cubs / Reds game. Everything was larger than life -- the field, the stadium, the players. Everything except Sparky Anderson, who squatted down and had a short conversation with an awe-struck six and a half year old boy...

Meeting Sparky Anderson

Anderson was 35 when he became manager of the Reds in 1969. Which means he was in his early 40s when this picture was taken. From the Times' obit:

“Everybody knows the story about how the headline in the paper the day I was hired read, ‘Sparky Who?’” Anderson once told The Cincinnati Enquirer. But he soon began to look the part of a grizzled veteran manager, his hair turning prematurely white soon afterward and his craggy features suggesting a budding Casey Stengel.

When he retired after the 1995 season, Anderson had won the most games of any manager in both Reds and Tigers history, and his 2,194 victories over all placed him third on the career list, behind Connie Mack and John McGraw. He is now No. 6.

Rest in peace, Mr. Anderson.

PS: Tim Carmody has a great post up about Sparky at The Idler.