Thursday, November 4, 2010



When I was a kid the Cincinnati Reds held their spring training in my hometown of Tampa. I became a fan because of my father who was a baseball fan, would take me to games as often as he could.
When I was 12 the team hired a manager named Sparky Anderson. Now I don’t know about you, but I thought that Sparky was about the coolest name that I’ve ever heard for a manager. That year the Reds won 102 games and the pennant, but lost the series to the Orioles in 5 games. Cincinnati won the pennant again 2 years later, but were beaten in the series by a very good Oakland team.
Finally in 1975, after cruising through the national league with 108 wins, the Reds defeated the Red Sox in 7 games to become world champions. They repeated the next year by winning 102 games and eventually sweeping the Yankees in the series.
During this time Cincinnati won 8 straight playoff games and Sparky became known as “ Captain Hook” for his penchant of taking out the starting pitcher at the first sign of trouble and relying heavily on his set up man and closer.
After finishing 2nd to the Dodgers the next 2 seasons, Sparky was fired. Man, talk about the “ what have you done for me lately” mentality.
Anderson was hired by the Tigers in ’79 and had an immediate positive impact. He had winning seasons the next few years, but it took him until ’84 to get back to the world series, in which the Tigers beat the Padres in 5 games to capture his third championship ring. This was the year that Sparky was awarded the first of his 2 manager of the year awards.
Sparky retired from managing after the 1995 season, reportedly disillusioned with league politics after the strike in ’94, which spilled over into the beginning of the ’95 season. It is widely believed that Anderson was forced out because of his refusal to manage replacement players during spring training in ’95.
Sparky Anderson was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2000 as a manager. On his plaque in Cooperstown he wears a Cincinnati Reds cap in honor of Bob Howsman, the GM that gave Sparky his first chance at a major league managing job.
The reason that I’m writing this is that Sparky is now in the care of Hospice because of complications due to dementia. My father passed away as a result of the same condition and it is for the both of them that I dedicate this post.
Thanks for the memories guys.