I first started following baseball in the late 1960's and the two best managers I remember from those days were Earl Weaver and Sparky Anderson. Both were brilliant baseball minds and very flamboyant on the field. Whereas Weaver may have had some detractors, there is virtually no player who was on one of Anderson's teams to say a bad word about him. He managed two of the Greatest Teams in baseball history (the 76 Reds and the 84 Tigers) and made winners out of superstars Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Pete Rose and Kirk Gibson. Morgan especially comes to mind because if was a fairly good player with the Houston Astros who became an MVP under the tutelage of Anderson.
Anderson was always evaluating talent and had great respect for his opponents. While Johnny Bench was winning the MVP in an easy sweep of the overmatched Yankees in the 76 series, Anderson was lauding praise on his Yankee counterpart, Thurman Munson as one of the best hitters he had ever seen.
As good as those Reds were, they didn't have the pitching and the opening day dominance of Anderson's 84 Tigers who went 35-5 to start the season and were in first place from opening day on while totally blowing through opponents in the post season.
As a Red Sox fan I hated the Big Red Machine aka as the Cincinnati Reds in 1975. But having said that who could dislike Sparky Anderson? He was always a class act and was a credit to the game he loved. He will be missed.
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George Lee "Sparky" Anderson (February 22, 1934 – November 4, 2010) was a former Major League Baseball manager. He managed the National League's Cincinnati Reds to the 1975 and 1976 championships, then added a third title in 1984 with the Detroit Tigers of the American League.
Anderson resided in Thousand Oaks, California. He was known as "Sparky" during his time in baseball, but in private life went by his given name of "George".
He died of complications resulting from dementia on November 4, 2010, a day after being placed into hospice care.