Appreciating Sparky Anderson As He Enters a Hospice. Thanks, Sparky.

Faygo KidContributor INovember 3, 2010

15 Aug 1997: Sparky Anderson attends ceremony to retire the uniform of Tommy Lasorda of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California.
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

I had the pleasure of meeting Sparky Anderson a number of times after he became manager of the Detroit Tigers in 1979.  We weren't quite sure to expect, and many of us felt sorry for then-manager Les Moss, who didn't really get a chance.  But Sparky was a big name, and it was shocking that he was fired by the Reds.  So we took him

And he took us on a wonderful ride for nearly two decades.  There wasn't a journeyman minor leaguer that Sparky would guarantee as the next Johnny Bench or Mickey Mantle, and Sparky's malapropisms were right there among the finest in baseball history with Yogi Berra and Casey Stengel.

I remember the Tigers' World Series win in 1968 like it was yesterday, and the only thing comparable to it was the 1984 season and the Tigers' 35-5 start.  Magical.  And the 1987 division championship was great, too.

But all that pales in comparison to Sparky Anderson's charitable work and the difference he made in so many lives.  And the Detroit newspapers are filled today with reminiscences from the ballplayers he managed, and not a one denies the importance of Sparky Anderson in their lives.

He treated everyone equally, with class and graciousness.  As did Ernie Harwell.  Soon Sparky will join Ernie and Tiger Stadium itself as memories of an era greatly missed in baseball.

But those memories—they will live forever.  Thank you, Sparky, for providing so many of them.