Legendary Tigers manager Sparky Anderson dies at 76
By JOHN LOWE
Free Press Sports Writer
With his native baseball wisdom, ungrammatical eloquence and perpetual charisma - plus that tanned, vibrant face topped by silver hair - Sparky Anderson became the most compelling and enduring figure ever to manage the Tigers.
When Anderson took over the Tigers in mid-1979, he became their sixth new manager in the last 17 seasons. After he stepped down in 1995, six men managed the team in the ensuing 11 years.
Given that turnover on either side of him, Anderson has emerged as the Tigers' FDR. Throughout his 17 seasons at the helm, Detroit's baseball entry traveled the continent often billed as “Sparky Anderson and the Detroit Tigers.” Even when the team sank to last place, he was their headliner, their legitimacy, their link to glory.
Anderson died Thursday at age 76 because of complications from dementia, according to a family spokesman.
He managed the Tigers for three more seasons and 200 more victories than anyone else has.
The Hall of Fame adorned him with a Reds hat for his Cooperstown plaque. But Anderson managed almost twice as long in Detroit as he did in Cincinnati, and he came to like Detroit so much that it often took considerable prompting for him to talk about the Cincinnati glory days.
In a life that began in the Depression in South Dakota, Detroit had become Anderson's best and final baseball home.
Anderson is survived by his wife, Carol; sons Lee and Albert; daughter Shirley Englebrecht; and nine grandchildren. At the request of Anderson, there will be no funeral nor memorial service.
The family also requests any donations be made to CATCH, Anderson's charity for children in Detroit, or the charity of one's choice.
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