been fifteen years since he skipped over a foul line. Fifteen years
since the legendary hook pulled a starting pitcher out of a game,
and fifteen years since he managed a professional baseball team. It has
been slightly over a year since we last saw him, smiling and joking and
looking every bit as though he belonged at Comerica Park, though he
never managed there, during a reunion of the 1984 championship team.
baseball fans across the country are mourning the loss of George Lee
Anderson – more affectionately known to all as, “Sparky.”
passed away today at his home in Thousand Oaks, California. He is
survived by his wife Carol, sons Lee and Albert, daughter Shirley
Englebrecht and nine grandchildren.
Anderson was the first manager to win a World Series title in both the
American League (Detroit Tigers) and the National League (Cincinnati
Reds). In his 26 years as a manager, he won 2,194 games, and five
pennants, and three World Series titles. He won more games here in
Detroit than any other Tiger’s manager (1331).
came to Detroit in 1979 amid the promise that he would make something
big happen for the team. He did. In 1984, the Detroit Tigers began the
season with a 35-5 start, and they never looked back. That team brought a
world championship to Detroit. Also, he managed the 1987 Tigers to a
first place finish in the American League East.
fans have always loved, admired, and respected their sports heroes —
even before the Detroit Tigers launched the current “Always A Tiger”
campaign, which celebrates past accomplishments amid promises of hope
for future glories.
hope that there will be a renewed call to retire Sparky’s jersey number.
The Detroit Tigers have had opportunities to do so, and never have.
Although it would have been a wonderful gesture by the organization to
do so last year, during the 1984 reunion, while Sparky was in town, they
should reconsider the reasons they haven’t and put his name on the wall
at Comerica Park. Sure, he managed the Reds, and even entered the Hall
of Fame as a Red, but as far as baseball fans in Detroit are concerned,
Sparky will always be a Tiger!