Reds fans were taken aback when Sparky Anderson showed up in Cincinnati for his first day as a big-league manager, an unknown taking over...
Reds fans were taken aback when Sparky Anderson showed up in Cincinnati for his first day as a big-league manager, an unknown taking over baseball’s first professional team.
By the time he was done, this man with the shock of white hair and schoolboy nickname would produce a considerable list of achievements that featured three World Series titles — including crowns in each league — and a Hall of Fame entry on his résumé.
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Anderson, who directed the Big Red Machine to back-to-back championships and won another in Detroit, died Thursday from complications of dementia in Thousand Oaks, Calif. He was 76. A day earlier, his family said he’d 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.
“Sparky was, by far, the best manager I ever played for,” said former Reds star Pete Rose, the game’s career hits leader. “He understood people better than anyone I ever met. His players loved him, he loved his players, and he loved the game of baseball. There isn’t another person in baseball like Sparky Anderson. He gave his whole life to the game.”
Anderson’s teams in Cincinnati — featuring Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Rose — won crowns in 1975 and 1976 and rank among the most powerful of all time. Led by Kirk Gibson and Alan Trammell, Anderson won with the Tigers in 1984.
“He was a good guy,” former Tigers pitcher Jack Morris said, choking up over the news. “Baseball will have very few people like Sparky. He was a unique individual. He was a character with a great passion and love for the game.”
Anderson never tried to overshadow his teams, giving his stars great leeway while trying to stay in the background. At Anderson’s request, there will be no funeral or memorial service.
Anderson’s win total of 2,194 was the third highest when he retired after the 1995 season, trailing only Connie Mack and John McGraw.
• Manager Ron Washington signed a new two-year contract with the AL champion Texas Rangers, a move that had been expected since before the playoffs began.
• The Boston Red Sox kept designated hitter David Ortiz by exercising a $12.5 million club option. The Red Sox declined their $9.25 million option on Bill Hall, who gets a $500,000 buyout, and their $2.5 million option on infielder Felipe Lopez.
• The San Francisco Giants declined a $9.5 million option on World Series MVP Edgar Renteria, who gets a $500,000 buyout.
• Rather than exercise Miguel Olivo’s option, Colorado traded the catcher to Toronto for a player to be named or cash. The Blue Jays also declined the catcher’s $2.5 million option, which carried a $500,000 buyout.
• Colorado declined a $7 million option on lefty Jeff Francis.
• Philadelphia turned down a $4.5 million option on left-hander J.C. Romero, who receives a $250,000 buyout.
• Toronto paid right-hander Kevin Gregg a $750,000 buyout, declining a $5.25 million option.
• The Dodgers said outfielder Scott Podsednik declined his half of a $2 million mutual option.