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Sparky Anderson dies at age 76

By Cindy Boren

Sparky Anderson, who was the first manager to win the World Series in both the National and American leagues and the only manager to lead two franchises in career wins, has died at the age of 76.

sparky.jpgAnderson, who led the Cincinnati Reds to the championship in 1975 and 1976 and the Detroit Tigers to the title in 1984, died, according to family spokesman Dan Ewald, of complications from dementia.

On Wednesday, Ewald had told reporters that Anderson had entered a hospice.

Anderson's Cincinnati teams -- the Big Red Machine led by Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan -- rank among the most powerful of all time. His Tigers team in '84 started 35-5 and led wire-to-wire and went on to win the World Series, featuring players like Kirk Gibson (who had an iconic home run in Game 1 5) and Alan Trammell.

With 2,194 victories, Anderson trailed only Connie Mack and John McGraw in victories when he retired after the 1995 season. He is now sixth on the career list.

Anderson, whose given name was George, requested that there be no funeral or memorial service.

Elected to the Hall of Fame in 2000, he was nicknamed Sparky in the minor leagues and, although he played only one season in the majors (1959), he was adept at managing a team and modest about his ability.

"I got good players, stayed out of their way, let them win a lot and then just hung around for 26 years," he said.

By Cindy Boren  | November 4, 2010; 1:55 PM ET
Categories:  MLB  
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When the Tigers won in 1984, they were the fourth team to lead wire-to-wire and continue on to win the WS. The 1976 Reds were also won of the teams, making Sparky responsible for two of the teams. I'm pretty sure the '27 Yankees were one of the teams, can't remember the other.

One of the '90s (1997?) Orioles teams lead wire-to-wire but got knocked out by Cleveland while Roberto Alomar stood looking at strike three.

Posted by: bflorhodes | November 4, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

@bflorhodes the 1990 Cincinnati Reds went wire-to-wire and won the WS.

Posted by: josh19 | November 4, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I loved the way his face would get red when he argued with umps.

Posted by: Garak | November 4, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

The 1984 Tigers began 35-5, winning their first 17 road games, and concluded by going 7-1 in the post-season. Then the ownership did its best to dismantle and destroy what should have been a Yankee-esque dynasty, by participating in collusion, etc., and driving away Lance Parrish, Jack Morris, Kirk Gibson, etc. Anderson was helpless. But he still won a bunch of games in the years ahead. Just no more World Series titles. He was a great guy. He over-managed his pitching staff night after night. But it never hurt him. A class act.

Posted by: Craig_Colgan | November 4, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Sparky Anderson was traded to the Angles today.

My Condolences too the Anderson family.

Posted by: Defund_NPR | November 4, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Sparky was an American Icon.

Posted by: HornetCoach | November 4, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Very sad news. He was a total class act. He lifted the entire city of Detroit when he lead the Tigers to the World Series in 1984.

Posted by: anonymous1958 | November 4, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Old school...we need more managers and players like Sparky. Go in peace.

Posted by: mortified469 | November 4, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Sweet jeebus, Kirk Gibson's "iconic" game 1 home run was with the Dodgers 4 years later. He didn't even hit a non-iconic home run in game 1 of the '84 series. You've had 24 hours to prepare an obit, and you give us this crap?

Posted by: NNevada | November 4, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, you may want to run this by an actual baseball person. Gibson's 'iconic' homer was with the Dodgers (indicated by the Dodger's uniform he's wearing while liming around the bases and doing the iconic stuff).

Posted by: kolbkl | November 4, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

It is hard to explain why... I'd probably feel this way if any of the 75 Reds passed away. I guess when you're a kid growing up and you have a team, you lock on to them in some way. Rose, Perez, Bench, Morgan, Conception, Foster, Geronimo, Griffey... Anderson. Your guys, your team, someone to look up to. Something about baseball invites sentimentality, so to Hell with the cynics. God Bless Baseball and God Bless America. Hoo yaa!!!!

Posted by: jferdyk57 | November 4, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

True, Gibson's "iconic" home run was with the Dodgers. But he hit a semi-iconic one in the 8th inning of Game 5 of the '84 series, putting an exclamation mark on the Tigers' victory. Gibson had homered earlier in the game and, with two men on base, Padres manager Dick Williams went out to the mound to tell Goose Gossage to walk Gibson. But Gossage insisted he could pitch to Gibson and the result was a three-run homer that put the game out of reach, 8-4. The picture of Gibson rounding the bases, arms raised, pants torn, covered almost the entire front page of the Detroit Free Press the next day and was truly iconic for Detroiters. Sparky lost 10 bucks to Gibson on that at-bat -- he bet Gibson would be walked.

Rest in peace, Sparky, and thanks for everything.

Posted by: warddm | November 4, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

A long time ago, I caught a plane. Where I was, or where I was going are lost in the mists of time, but I have a vivid memory of a kind and smiling man who took time to talk to everyone who said hello. He wore a plaid sportcoat, and he seemed smaller than I imagined, but his broad grin and demeanor revealed a man enjoying life. He'd spent years wearing a baseball uniform, managing in Cincinnati and Detroit, and he had always reminded me of my own father.

I have a good feeling he lived every moment of every day of his life. Rest in peace, Sparky.

Posted by: rjmarton | November 4, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

During the World Series last week, the morning after the multiple errors made by the Rangers cost them the game, Sparky's name came up. One of the guys I worked with and a Detroit fan said when he managed the Tigers he would get so ticked by stupid errors he started fining them and giving the money to local charities.
It was coming out of the players pockets but at least it was going to a good cause.

Posted by: menopausequeen | November 4, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

As a long-suffering Cubs fan, Sparky and his Big Red Machine of the 70's (my childhood years) were hated "enemies". But I couldn't deny then, and I can't deny now what a terrific manager and man he was. He will be missed, even by this Cubs fan. RIP Sparky.

Posted by: wrigleywrat | November 4, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Well, one of my fondest childhood memories was my Orioles beating Sparky and the Big Red Machine. But I liked and admired him then and now. Seemed like a throwback to the feisty managers of old who loved the game so much they would have done the job for free. In that respect as in others, we've lost someone special.
RIP Sparky.

Posted by: bodypolitic1 | November 4, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

A memorial site was created for Sparky Anderson! Honor his memory by contributing to his memorial site

Posted by: estael_oscora | November 9, 2010 4:24 AM | Report abuse

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