Blog Entry

Sparky in Japan? It almost happened

Posted on: January 31, 2012 5:22 pm
 
Sparky Anderson won in Cincinnati, and he won in Detroit.

Probably would have won in Japan, too.

We'll never know, but what we do know now is that he thought about giving it a try. In a soon-to-be-published book about his 32-year friendship with Anderson, Dan Ewald reveals that the Hanshin Tigers offered to make Sparky their manager soon after he left the Detroit Tigers at the end of the 1995 season.

Ewald, the former Tigers PR man, writes that he and Sparky discussed the offer for three full days before Anderson decided to turn it down.

Or rather, as Ewald writes, Anderson decided to have Ewald turn it down.

"You're gonna tell 'em how deeply I appreciate their offer," Ewald quotes Anderson as saying. "You're gonna tell 'em how much of an honor it is. But at this time, I just can't make such a commitment. Tell 'em I'll always be grateful for the consideration they gave me."

Ewald said he then asked Sparky why he had to be the one to call Japan.

"You gotta tell 'em," Sparky told him. "I don't speak no Japanese."

Not that Ewald spoke Japanese, either. But that was Sparky.

Anderson died in November 2010, but his voice comes through clearly in Ewald's book (due out May 8, from St. Martin's Press). It's not a biography, and it's not about baseball.

It's more a story of a friendship, with one of the friends just happening to be one of the best-known managers in baseball history.

The near-move to Japan is probably the biggest new piece of information about Anderson, but Ewald also details the reasons behind Anderson's 1989 leave of absence from the Tigers (his daughter was pregnant, and her husband had left her), and details Anderson's conversations with the Angels about becoming their manager in 1997.

The Angels nearly hired Anderson that fall, and Ewald writes that the plan was for Anderson to manage for two years with Joe Maddon as his bench coach, and for Maddon to then take over. Angels president Tony Taveras nixed the move, and the Angels hired Terry Collins instead.

I covered Anderson for the last six years of his Tigers career, and there was plenty in the book that made me smile. There are great nuggets, like the one about Sparky celebrating his election to the Hall of Fame with burgers and fries from In-N-Out.

Ewald builds the book around three days he spent at Anderson's California home just 10 days before Sparky died. They look back at their time together, from Detroit to the Hall of Fame.

And, almost, to Japan.
 
Comments

Since: Jun 25, 2009
Posted on: February 3, 2012 11:27 am
 

Sparky in Japan? It almost happened

Very much looking forward to getting an opportunity to read the book. I grew up with Sparky as the Tigers coach...he had some of the best one liners in baseball during his ..."I can't believe they pay us to play baseball, something we did for free as kids" and "I don't know why the players make such a big fuss about sitting in the first class section of the plane. Does that mean they'll get there faster?"

That's what was special about Sparky, he was a down to earth guy, no different then you or I or anybody else on these boards. The only difference between us and him was what we do for a living.  He didn't put himself on a pedestal or think he was better then anybody else out there.  He was thankful for being able to do what he loves for a living and appreciated every minute of it.  

I never had the pleasure of meeting Sparky but I know somebody who did, somebody that had dinner with Sparky and got to know him fairly well his last 10 years with the Tigers.  All I heard out of my friend's mouth was positive things about the guy.... 

Been a while since I read a good book, this is one I'll gladly spend the money on.



Since: Dec 7, 2007
Posted on: February 2, 2012 1:29 am
 

Sparky in Japan? It almost happened

It will be interesting to read about Sparky off the field.  Was a fan of his back to the Big Red Machine days (My dad was a huge Reds fan).  

Loved the old Sparky line about not letting George Brett ever beat him in a game.  He wanted to intentionally walk him almost every time up, even with the bases loaded.  Miss Sparky as a manager.  Baseball needs guys like that.



Since: Jan 24, 2012
Posted on: February 1, 2012 9:06 am
 

Sparky in Japan? It almost happened

Very much looking forward to getting an opportunity to read the book. I grew up with Sparky as the Tigers coach...he had some of the best one liners in baseball during his career..."I can't believe they pay us to play baseball, something we did for free as kids" and "I don't know why the players make such a big fuss about sitting in the first class section of the plane. Does that mean they'll get there faster?"



Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: February 1, 2012 12:51 am
 

Sparky in Japan? It almost happened

Sparky was forced out of Detroit by an ungrateful fanbase.  The 'fans' quickly figured out that Sparky had been getting all that was humanly possible out of the roster after Buddy Bell "led" the Tigers to a record of 53-109 the following year.  It would be eleven years before the Tigers would make it back to the post-season.  
 
Anderson is a Hall of Fame manager, but was fired by both the Reds and the Tigers.  He deserved better from both franchises. 



Since: Jan 21, 2007
Posted on: January 31, 2012 11:13 pm
 

Sparky in Japan? It almost happened

Just a thought: couldn't you see the late, great Casey Stengel manage a Japanese team? He would do more damage to the Japanese language than what Godzilla did to Tokyo........LOL!



Since: Apr 2, 2009
Posted on: January 31, 2012 10:05 pm
 

Sparky in Japan? It almost happened

I love Sparky Anderson.




Since: May 3, 2007
Posted on: January 31, 2012 7:53 pm
 

Sparky in Japan? It almost happened

Sparky was the greatest...I fondly remember him during the 1984 WS run when I was 12...Good times...


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