Long before Arizona had a World Series winning MLB team, there was a dynasty known as the “Big Red Machine.” With players like Pete Rose and Johnny Bench, the Cincinnati Reds dominated baseball from 1970-1976. Sparky Anderson was the guy in charge. Today, we lost one of baseball’s great managers.
(Courtesy of the Associated Press)
Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson, who directed Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine to back-to-back World Series championships and went on to win another title in Detroit, died Thursday. He was 76.
Anderson, whose birth name was George Anderson, died from complications from dementia, family spokesman Dan Ewald said. A day earlier, Anderson’s family said he had been placed in hospice care.
Anderson was the first manager to win World Series titles in both leagues and the only manager to lead two franchises in career wins.
Ewald knew Anderson for about 35 years as a former Tigers spokesman and baseball writer for the Detroit News.
“Sparky Anderson will always be measured by his number of victories and his place in baseball’s Hall of Fame. But all of that is overshadowed by the type of person he was. Sparky not only spiked life into baseball, he gave life in general something to smile about. Never in my lifetime have I met a man as gentle, kind and courageous as Sparky,” he said.
The white-haired Anderson was a flop as a player, batting .218 during his only season in the majors. He learned to control a temper that nearly scuttled his fledgling career as a manager, and went on to become one of baseball’s best at running a team.
And he did it with a humility that couldn’t obscure his unique ability to manage people.
“I got good players, stayed out of their way, let them win a lot and then just hung around for 26 years,” he said during his Hall of Fame acceptance speech in 2000.