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Sparky Anderson managed a run of MVPs with Cincinnati

Text messages from press row...

November 04, 2010|Jerry Crowe

Sparky Anderson was so closely tied to the Cincinnati Reds and the Big Red Machine, it's surprising to realize that he managed the Detroit Tigers for nearly twice as many seasons. …

Wherever he managed, he was always fair, as he once noted in a cherished sound bite made famous by Jim Healy. …

Known as "Captain Hook" for pulling pitchers, Anderson also knew when to leave well enough alone: In the 1976 World Series, with the designated-hitter rule in effect for every game, the Dorsey High graduate utilized the same batting order for all four games as the Reds swept the New York Yankees. …

Six times in eight seasons from 1970 to '77, Anderson managed the National League's most valuable player: Johnny Bench in '70 and '72; Pete Rose in '73; Joe Morgan in '75 and '76; and Lawndale Leuzinger High grad George Foster in '77. …

Only Joe Torre of the St. Louis Cardinals in '71 and Steve Garvey of the Dodgers in '74 broke the Reds' stranglehold. …

Debate fodder: Jerry Rice edged out Jim Brown atop an NFL Network ranking of the 100 greatest players in NFL history. …

Rounding out the top 10, as voted on by a blue-ribbon panel of NFL experts and announced Thursday night: Lawrence Taylor; Joe Montana; Walter Payton; Johnny Unitas; Reggie White; Peyton Manning; Don Hutson; and Dick Butkus. …

Dave Curtis of Sporting News Today, predicting that USC won't contend for a national title again before 2014: "The only similarity between these Trojans and the Pete Carroll dynasty is a Homecoming King-type quarterback." …

UCLA is so unpredictable that anything seems possible for Rick Neuheisel's team, from a second consecutive bowl trip to a 3-9 finish, matching a school record for losses. …

Kobe Bryant, indicating in a radio interview with Mike Krzyzewski this week that he might be willing to take a backseat to younger teammates at the London Olympics: "If anything, I'll just be Mariano Rivera — come in in the last two minutes." …

Even at 34 in August 2012, Bryant won't be a role player. …

Reader David McEnany of Los Angeles, taking issue with Baron Davis' level of commitment to the Clippers, e-mails to suggest, "Baron, take a cue from Lyman Bostock and Jay Schroeder and give back some money to your owner." …

Bostock once offered to forfeit his salary to the Angels, and Schroeder asked that $200,000 of his $1-million salary be taken back by the Los Angeles Raiders because, as he told Al Davis, "I'm not a million-dollar quarterback." …

The Angels declined Bostock's offer, but Davis split the difference with Schroeder, cutting him by $100,000. …

For longtime UCLA basketball observers, it's almost inconceivable that John Wooden's former team wouldn't open every season ranked among the top 25, let alone finish with a losing record three times in the last eight seasons. …

From Matt Barnes with the Lakers to Jordan Farmar with the New Jersey Nets, 14 former Bruins opened the season on NBA rosters, more than any other school had. …

Country singer Charley Pride, who sang the national anthem before Game 5 of the World Series, is a former Negro Leagues player and part owner of the Texas Rangers. …

Fans in Anaheim might remember that Pride's biggest hit was the 1971 chart-topper, "Kiss an Angel Good Morning." …

Before Tom Dempsey kicked his famous 63-yard field goal 40 years ago this month, Bert Rechichar of the Baltimore Colts held the previous record of 56 yards for 17 years. …

Joe Scarpati, the holder on Dempsey's kick, says of the visiting Detroit Lions, "They really didn't put too much of an effort into blocking it because they said, 'This is ridiculous.' " …

Fifty years ago Thursday, Wilt Chamberlain scored 44 points in a victory over the Detroit Pistons while also setting an NBA record by missing all 10 of his free throws. …

Shaquille O'Neal broke the record in 2000, going 0 for 11. …

Reader Molly Freedman of El Segundo, noting that Barry Bonds says he'd like to get into coaching because he has a gift and wants to share it: "Geez, talk about having a big head."

jerome.crowe@latimes.com

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