George Lee Anderson, better known as ‘Sparky’ to many was a special kind of person. Being the type of manager who praised his players, he was surely a manager that many major league baseball players wanted to play for.
Beginning his big league managerial career with the Cincinnati Reds‘ organization, Anderson was manager during the ‘Big Red Machine’ days in Cincinnati. Featuring players like Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan, the Reds’ offense was feared throughout baseball. Sparky would manage the Reds to four National League pennants and two World Series titles during his nine years in Cincinnati. After being fired on November 27, 1978, Anderson’s next stop as a big league manager was with our very own, Detroit Tigers. He was hired on June 14, 1979, surpassing Les Moss.
With a plethora of young talent, it seemed as though Anderson was the perfect man to be managing the Tigers and help bring them a World Series title that hadn’t happened since 1968. It would take a few years, but in 1984, he did just that. The Tigers would defeat the San Diego Padres in five games at old Tiger Stadium to bring a championship back to the Motor City. Anderson received AL Manager of the Year honors as well in 1984, it was like icing on the cake for such a great season for the Tigers. On July 29, 1986 the Tigers would defeat the Milwaukee Brewers 9-5 and history was made when the Tigers’ skipper became the first manager in MLB history to record 600 wins in both the National League and American League respectively Sparky spent 17 years in the Motor City and brought the 1984 World Series title and two AL Manager of the Year awards during his tenure as manager.
Over a 26 year span as a manager in the major leagues, Anderson won 2,194 games with a .545 win percentage (baseball-reference), along with five league pennants (four NL and one AL) and three World Series titles. In 2000, Sparky Anderson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame as a manager. His number 10 that he wore in Cincinnati and number 11 that he wore with Detroit were both retired by both ball clubs respectively.
Anderson tragically passed away from dementia on November 4, 2010, inside his Thousand Oaks home in California. Channel 7 had a touching video tribute in remembrance of Sparky.
His legacy will forever live on in professional baseball.