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OBITUARIES : GEORGE 'SPARKY' ANDERSON, 1934 - 2010

Hall of Fame manager of Reds, Tigers

November 05, 2010|Keith Thursby

"Sparky would go to great lengths to make sure I understood what it meant to be a big leaguer and how to approach the game on a daily basis," Kirk Gibson, the Tigers' star right fielder, told Baseball Digest. "His words were that if I didn't do it, 'I'll send you home crying to momma.' "

The Tigers won another division title in 1987, and Anderson remained in Detroit until he retired after the 1995 season. He stayed away from the game for a time during a strike when baseball used replacement players. His absence reportedly angered management.

Like many retired players and managers, Anderson spent some time broadcasting, including doing Angel telecasts in the late 1990s.

"I think the greatest thing about Sparky is that he really does feel that he was blessed. He is as modest as anyone who will ever reach the Hall of Fame," Vin Scully said in 2000. Scully met Anderson when he was a Dodger minor leaguer, and they worked on World Series broadcasts for CBS radio.

Sparky was a fitting description of Anderson as a player and manager. With the Reds and Tigers, he would walk on the field with both hands in his back pockets, a habit he said that started after an argument with a minor league umpire turned physical. He called the nickname "the biggest break I ever had. ... George? There are a lot of Georges."

Survivors include his wife, Carol; sons Lee and Albert; daughter Shirley Englebrecht and nine grandchildren.

No services are planned.

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keith.thursby@latimes.com

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