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10 Things You Might Not Know About Sparky Anderson

Today, if Sparky Anderson was not taken from us so early, he would have celebrated his 82nd birthday. In honor of Sparky, and the number 10 he wore on his jersey, we give you;

10 Things You Might Not Know About Sparky Anderson.

  1. Sparky Anderson was a batboy for the USC Trojans.
  2. A radio announcer gave him the nickname “Sparky” in 1955 for his feisty play for the Double-A Fort Worth Cats of the Texas League.
  3. SparkyBaseballCardThe Phillies gave Anderson their starting second base job, in 1959. Which was his only full season in the major league season. However, he batted only .218 in 152 games, with no home runs and only 34 RBI’s. After that season he returned to the minor leagues for the remainder of his playing career. However, his 527 at-bats are still the record for the most by a player who only played in one Major League season.
  4. In 1964, at the age of 30, Anderson accepted Jack Kent Cooke’s offer to manage the Triple A Toronto Maple Leafs. He later handled minor league clubs at the Class A and Double-A levels, including a season (1968) in the Reds’ minor league system. During this period, he managed four pennant winners in four consecutive seasons: 1965 with the Rock Hill Cardinals of the Western Carolinas League, 1966 with the St. Petersburg Cardinals of the Florida State League, 1967 with the Modesto Reds of the California League, and 1968 with the Asheville Tourists of the Southern League. It was during the 1966 season that Sparky’s club lost to Miami 4–3 in 29 innings, which remains the longest pro game played (by innings) without interruption.
  5. In 1969 Sparky was named the third-base coach of the San Diego Padres during their maiden season in the National League.

    Manager Sparky Anderson and 2nd Baseman Joe Morgan.

    Manager Sparky Anderson and 2nd Baseman Joe Morgan.

  6. Just after the 1969 season ended, California Angel’s manager Lefty Phillips, who as a Dodger scout had signed the teenaged Anderson to his first professional contract, named Anderson to his 1970 coaching staff. But within days of being hired in Anaheim, he was offered the opportunity to succeed Dave Bristol as manager of the Reds.
  7. Sparky Anderson’s Big Red Machine in 1975 blew the division open by winning 108 games. They swept the National League Championship Series and then edged the Boston Red Sox in a drama-filled, seven-game World Series. They repeated in 1976 by winning 102 games, sweeping the Phillies in three games in the National League Championship Series, then going on to sweep the New York Yankees in the World Series. This has been the only time that a team swept both the League Championship Series and World Series since the start of division play. Over the course of these two seasons, Anderson’s Reds compiled an astounding 14–3 record in postseason play against the Pirates, Phillies, Red Sox and Yankees, winning their last eight in a row in the postseason after triumphing against the Red Sox in Game 7 of the 1975 World Series, and then winning seven straight games in the 1976 postseason. They remain the only team to sweep the entire post-season since the inception of the league championship series in 1969.
  8. Anderson was fired on November 27, 1978 as Reds Manager. Anderson moved on to the young Detroit Tigers after being hired as their new manager on June 14, 1979. In 1984, Detroit opened the season 9-0, was 35–5 after 40 games (a major league record), and breezed to a 104–58 record (a franchise record for wins). On September 23, Anderson became the first manager to win 100 games in a season with two different teams. The 1984 Tigers also became the first team since the 1927 New York Yankees to lead a league wire-to-wire, from opening day to the end of the World Series. After the season, Anderson won the first of his two Manager of the Year Awards with the Tigers.sparky-anderson
  9. With a 9–5 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on July 29, 1986, Anderson became the first to achieve 600 career wins as a manager in both the American and National Leagues.
  10. On September 27, 1992, the Tigers beat the Cleveland Indians 13–3 for Anderson’s 1,132nd win with the team, passing Hughie Jennings as the all-time leader in wins by a Tiger manager. Anderson continues to hold this distinction with 1,331 victories with the Tigers.

BONUS FACT: Anderson is the last American League manager to date to win a game by forfeit. This came a month after being hired in Detroit when, as a result of Disco Demolition Night in Chicago, the second half of a doubleheader with the Chicago White Sox had to be called off after an anti-disco demonstration went awry and severely damaged the playing surface at Comiskey Park. Even after White Sox groundskeepers removed debris from the field, Anderson refused to let the Tigers take the field. He was not only concerned for the safety of his players, but believed the field was unplayable. When American League officials initially made plans to postpone the game until the next afternoon, Anderson demanded that the game be forfeited to the Tigers. He argued that the White Sox, as the home team, were obligated to provide acceptable playing conditions. The next day, MacPhail largely upheld Anderson’s argument and forfeited the second game to the Tigers, 9-0.


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