Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sparky Anderson (#181)

This is Sparky Anderson's rookie card for the managerial phase of his career.

Most everyone knows about his long managerial career with the Reds (1970-78) and the Tigers (1979-95), but he was in baseball long before that.

Sparky was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1953, and spent 6 seasons in their minor-league system as a 2nd baseman (except for his 1st season, when he was a shortstop).

After the 1958 season, the Dodgers traded Sparky to the Phillies, where he became their regular 2nd baseman, starting 145 games there. Because he didn't hit very well, that was Anderson's only season in the majors. He spent 1960-63 with the triple-A Toronto Maple Leafs, before retiring as a player.

Sparky spent the 1964 to 1968 seasons as a minor-league manager, before taking a coaching job with the expansion San Diego Padres in 1969. As you can see by the picture on his card, Sparky may be the first person airbrushed OUT of a Padres uniform. (Quite a change from the dozens of players airbrushed INTO Padres (and Expos, Royals, Pilots) uniforms in the 1969 set.)

After only 1 season of big-league coaching, Anderson was given the reins of the Big Red Machine in 1970, and the rest is history.

As noted on many other blogs here, Sparky Anderson passed away 3 days ago. One thing I'll remember about Sparky Anderson is that he's seems to be the only person that ever referred to Johnny Bench as "John".

Rest In Peace, Mr. Anderson!