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Tag:Sparky Anderson
Posted on: May 31, 2011 10:08 pm
Edited on: May 31, 2011 10:31 pm
 

This Nixon not on Griffey Sr.'s enemies list

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- Yes, Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson was one of the most visible managers Ken Griffey Sr. ever had, and surely is influencing in some way what Griff is doing as a manager today.

But Griffey's most influential manager?

That would be Russ Nixon, whom Griffey was blessed to have come across during his second year of professional baseball, perhaps the most difficult of his career.

It was in Sioux Falls, S.D., in the early 1970s, and Griffey was the only married player on the team.

Worse, Griffey says, "there were not many black folks in Sioux Falls. We were the only black family around."

Concerned over this, Griffey said he phoned his wife at the time, Birdie, and tried to tell her not to come to South Dakota with their five-month-old son -- Ken Griffey Jr. But she already was on a plane.

As Griffey remembers it, the team opened with a homestand of about nine or 10 days, and Birdie arrived on day six or seven. They were rebuffed on a couple of rental attempts while looking for a place to live, Griffey says, adding that he knew it was because of their race.

"I told Russ Nixon that if I didn't find a place to live by the time the team left for the trip, I was going home," Griffey says. "Russ was staying at the team hotel and knew the guy who owned the hotel, and the guy's nephew was in real estate.

"He found us a place to live."

Sometimes in the low minors, managing isn't just about teaching hit-and-run techniques and bunt defenses.

"You learn quick," says Griffey, who was Cincinnati's 29th-round draft pick in 1969.

From Nixon, Griffey learned the value of persistence and the human touch.

From Sparky, Griffey learned the value of aggressive play and the art of handling different personalities.

Over his 24-year professional career, Griffey Sr. also played for many skippers, including John McNamara, Vern Rapp, George Scherger, Yogi Berra and Billy Martin. He hated Martin -- especially when Martin was drunk (he was a mean drunk) -- but still marvels at how shrewd and skilled a sober Martin was.

Likes: The Diamondbacks (!) in first place in the NL West, and Seattle surging in the AL West. What a month. ... Thanks to all with the Bakersfield Blaze. Very nice visit there with Ken Griffey Sr. and so many others late last week. Clubhouse manager Eddie Vasquez rocks. ... Griffey's Big Red Machine stories (George Foster has been in touch the most since Griffey took the Bakersfield managing job). ... Griffey chuckling about how he got along fine with Billy Martin in 1983 shortly after joining the Yankees "until Billy realized I was on the Reds team that kicked their ass in the '76 World Series." ... Mama Roomba Caribbean restaurant in Bakersfield. The salmon with mango salsa, mmm. ... Moo Creamery, also in Bakersfield. Go for the Toasted Almond and Strawberry Shortcake ice cream. ... Merle Haggard. ... The countdown to the final day of school.

Dislikes: Hall of Famer Gary Carter's battle with malignant brain tumors. Colleague Danny Knobler updates Carter's condition here. Prayers to Carter and his family.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I came here looking for something
"I couldn't find anywhere else
"Hey I'm not tryin' to be nobody
"I just want a chance to be myself
"I've spent a thousand miles of thumbin'
"Yes I've worn blisters on my heels
"Tryin' to find me something better
"Here on the streets of Bakersfield"

-- Buck Owens, Streets of Bakersfield



Posted on: November 23, 2010 6:16 pm
 

Love Letters: Fixing the Mets Edition

Meet the Mets, greet the Mets ... and we did both with their new manager Terry Collins. ...

FROM: Greg K.
Re.: Mets complete clubhouse makeover with Collins hire

Scott,

As a Mets fan, thank you - THANK YOU - for injecting a dose of sanity into the fan and media reaction to the Terry Collins hiring. Reading some of the drivel put out there in the last 18 hours I don't want to mention any names, but ... it makes you wonder whether any objectivity or logic, or intelligence, or consideration, or patience is even possible when writing about the Mets anymore. It's refreshing to actually see some intelligent analysis rather than the knee-jerk mentality which has overtaken much of the media -- and the die-hards -- when it comes to the Mets. Keep it up!

It's the Mets. They've come to specialize in knee-jerk, haven't they?

FROM: Jack H.

Another retread. It will take a miracle. Collins needs to get the team to do a 180. Personally, I would have given Wally Backman a one-year contract. I think he would have taken it. I just wouldn't make the contract public because I wouldn't want the team to know it was only for a year. That team needs a kick-ass manager and I don't see that from Collins.

What's your definition of a "kick-ass" manager? In many ways, Collins is or could be that guy. I think you're on the right track in some areas, but I disagree on the one-year deal. Nothing is secret anymore. It would leak. And you cannot have a rookie manager on a one-year deal. That's a neon sign to the clubhouse that he does not have authority.

FROM: Finbar

Scott:

From your own article, I give you the following: "When we last saw Collins in a big-league manager's chair, the late-'90s Angels were blowing up around him in spectacular fashion. The Mo Vaughn free agent signing was a colossal mistake, the clubhouse was rife with dissension, everybody hated everybody and Collins' spirited ways were a daily dose of salt to what was an open and festering clubhouse wound. Something had to give, and it was Collins. He lost the clubhouse, then his job."

Your words, and if true, this cannot be a good candidate for a job in NY. Especially with 10 years of a lack of managing. This team needs a cultural, not logistical, change. Can Collins deliver such a thing? Anyone who ever lost a clubhouse is problematic particularly in NY/NJ. If he lost a team out west, how will he regain a team in New York? Fair question, I think!Share thoughts!

It is a very fair question. And it is a key question. I also wrote that Collins is a smart man and should have been able to figure some things out in his decade away from managing -- where he went wrong with the Angels, what he could have done differently. To me, his success depends directly on this. He's a smart man. If he's learned a few things, he will do just fine in New York. If he proves incapable of learning what he needed to, then Sandy Alderson will be looking for a new manager sooner rather than later.

FROM: Frank D.

Though I would have preferred Wally Backman, I like the hire. Here's why: Collins knows the Mets farm system. You will see more young players this year and he knows them. Collins will be better equipped to understand how to use them. Jerry Manuel didn't have a clue.

Also, Collins will not tolerate any garbage. That means malcontents like Carlos Beltran. If he's here, he won't be tolerated. He'll be unafraid to sit those who jake it. This certainly signals Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez have no place here. It's a matter of time before they're eradicated. Collins is IMO keeping the seat warm for Backman. Wally will manage St. Lucie, then perhaps be moved up to Binghamton or Buffalo.

Terry is a transition guy and is here to clean up Omar Minaya's and Manuel's mess, and leave it [better] for the next guy. He's a good company guy and he's a decent manager (444-434). Since the end of the year, the Mets have rid themselves of incompetents like Minaya and Manuel. They've added a real brain trust in Alderson, J.P. Ricciardi and Paul DePodesta. Collins in in that vein. He's cerebral and professional.

Now the four of them have to turn their efforts towards dumping the garbage. I think they'll surprise some people how much they can do. I'm hoping they'll make trades and have free-agent signings, not to make a splash on the back pages of the dying newspapers, but ones that actually make the team better. My guess is unlike Minaya, they'll have a plan. A real plan. I'm actually very happy with what has occured. I'm looking forward to 2011 and hopefully a team that cares and shows respect for the game and fans.

Well played, Mr. Frank. You're last sentence summarizes things nicely.

FROM: Wesley Kempton
Re.: Anderson's passing sparks many wonderful baseball memories

Mr. Miller,

I am a senior Communications major at the University of Wyoming. Wyoming is a place so far from baseball and the rest of the world that it is somewhat a haven for what baseball used to be. Everyone everywhere can get baseball on TV, but when you are so far from the game, you are left to romanticize as in days of old through radio, great play-by-play, and great writing.

I have a heartfelt appreciation for baseball; for the way it is and the way I imagine it used to be. I appreciate the noble simplicities of baseball and all things associated with it. More than anything, and I think all baseball fans can agree to this: I appreciate people sharing memories of baseball. It is a bond that can nostalgically unite many fans of summer's greatest companion.

It is for that that I thank you for your piece on Sparky Anderson. My Dad lived in Southern Ohio in the '50s, '60s and '70s, and my bedtime stories were about a Big Red Machine. The greatest team ever, he told me. My opinion of that declaration is still in deliberation, but I still love hearing those fairy tales. My father sent me the link to this column. A lifelong Reds fan, and a lifelong Sparky fan, he and I shared a smile through your column, several hundred miles apart.Thank you very much for continuing this bond of baseball.

Your father sounds like a wonderful man, Wesley. Thanks for sharing this story, and best of luck in Wyoming and beyond.

 

Posted on: November 16, 2010 3:46 pm
 

Love Letters: The Sparky Anderson Files

Look, the boxes are packed and the furniture is on the moving truck: Love Letters is getting a new address, right here in the Bull Pennings blog. Little more interactive, little more informal, little more personal touch, little more often. At least, that's the plan. ...

From: Margaret E.
Re. Anderson's passing sparks many wonderful baseball memories

Thanks for a fine article, Scott. I like your quotes from Roger Craig -- a man equally essential to their World Series win in 1984. The line you wrote that also rings true for me is, "There are threads that run through each of our lives connecting childhood to adulthood. And full confession here, Sparky Anderson is one of mine." Growing up in Toledo, Ohio during the '70s and '80s, ANYTHING Tiger related does this for me as well. Thanks, again.

Why, if you grew up in Toledo, I bet you even spent some time in the Lucas County Rec Center watching the Mud Hens.

From: Michael

I live in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and I met Sparky Anderson a few times and I have to say he was the nicest man in the world to me, a complete stranger. We talked about baseball after he retired from the game, me about the Dodgers, he about the Reds & Tigers, and I loved it. You could tell by the twinkle in his eyes he loved the game still. I guess God needed a good manager to run his baseball team up there. God Bless you, Sparky.

You nailed it, my friend. Random meetings like yours with Sparky was part of the reason that helps explain why he was a Hall of Fame person. I can imagine Sparky running the team in heaven while Ernie Harwell announces.

From: Scott

Thanks for the article on Sparky. I was a Yankee/Met fan back in the day when he was with the Reds. He was a class act and he will be missed.

No question. The baseball world is starting to seriously lack for colorful managers.

From: Kevin

Suggestion for Rock 'n" Roll Lyric of the Day. I don't believe you have used it yet, from Alejandro Escovedo and the song Chip N' Tony:

"Up on the mound
"I was ten feet tall
"Had my black turtleneck on
"Just like Juan Marichal
"Up on the mound
"Up on the mound
"Everybody looking
"They're not going down
"Chip N' Tony said it was against the law"

C'mon, love your writing. Cheers!!

Excellent contribution, Kevin. I had not used those lyrics yet. I like 'em.

Posted on: September 29, 2010 10:51 pm
 

Kirk Gibson, from TV to Arizona manager

Sometime over the next several days, new Arizona general manager Kevin Towers is expected to remove the "interim" tag on manager Kirk Gibson's title. The Diamondbacks, according to sources, are on the verge of negotiating a two-year contract with Gibson and will name him as the full-time skipper.

For this, Gibson can thank ... former Detroit teammate Alan Trammell?

In a small way, yes.

Gibson was working as a television broadcaster when the Tigers named Trammell manager before the 2003 season. It was Trammell who recruited Gibson into coaching.

Aside from a longtime close friendship, what did Trammell see that he thought would make Gibson a successful coach?

"I've known him since I first got into pro ball," said Trammell, now the Cubs' bench coach. "Intensity. I've never met anybody quite like him. He has a football mentality that he's able to channel into baseball."

Gibson, who was an All-American flanker at Michigan State, was drafted 12th overall by the Tigers in 1978. Trammell was drafted by the Tigers two years earlier, and the two first were teammates in Detroit in 1979.

"Bo Jackson was quite good," Trammell says, recalling other notable football players on the baseball diamond. "And Deion Sanders. Kirk made the decision to go away from football completely, but he kept that mentality. Everything was a challenge to him.

"Coming into our situation [in Detroit in '03], we all were somewhat new. I knew we needed to have some energy. The team needed a lot of work. And I wanted coaches who would work."

The Cubs were in Phoenix to play the Diamondbacks just before the All-Star break, right after Gibson was named as the interim manager to replace the fired A.J. Hinch, and Trammell has spoken with his buddy only a couple of times since. Each has his hands full with his own team.

Gibson spent three seasons as Trammell's bench coach in Detroit. The staff was let go following the 2005 season.

Trammell joined the Cubs as Lou Piniella's bench coach in 2007. The same year, Gibson signed on with Arizona as Bob Melvin's bench coach.

What kind of manager does Trammell think Gibson will be if he sticks around longer than as just the interim guy?

"I think he'd be more than fine," Trammell says. "If he gets an opportunity to implement what he wants, and if people are willing to listen to him and pay the price. And by pay the price, I mean doing things for the team.

"That's the beauty of Gibby. You talk to him about his success as a player, he doesn't want any part of it. It's the team. That goes back to how we were all brought up by Sparky Anderson.

"I'm pulling for him. I hope he gets the opportunity."

If he does, there is lots of speculation that Trammell will wind up on his staff in Arizona after being bypassed for Mike Quade to manage the Cubs after Piniella's sudden departure this summer. Trammell says he has seen the speculation but is not thinking about 2011 right now, other than knowing that whatever he does, he wants to keep wearing the big-league uniform.

Likes: Good for Cito Gaston as the Blue Jays honored him Wednesday night in Toronto. What a class act. Very nice touch that so many of his former players -- Joe Carter, Pat Hentgen, George Bell and others -- returned for the festivities.

Dislikes: Goodbye Gene Orza, and good riddance. As Don Fehr's right-hand man and attack dog for the players' union, the arrogant Orza, who is stepping down as chief operating officer, mostly just muddied the waters wherever he went. His behavior during the Steroid Era was reprehensible, claiming in 2004 that steroids "are no worse than cigarettes."

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I was pourin’ out my troubles
"To a stranger in the bar
"About the problems and the pressures
"On a country music star
"Half braggin’, half complainin’
"About the money and the fame
"And just how lonely life can be
"When you’ve made yourself a name
"I said, Would you like a drink?
"He said, Thanks, I’ll have a double
"I’ve worked up a powerful thirst
"Just listening to all your troubles
"And while he makes that drink
"I’ll smoke one if you got ‘em
"It might be lonely at the top,
"But it's a bitch at the bottom"

-- Jamey Johnson, Lonely at the Top

 

Posted on: May 30, 2008 10:17 pm
 

And it isn't even a double-switch

You've probably noticed a new byline here on our baseball page at CBSSports.com within the past couple of days, and if you haven't, allow me to introduce you.

He's Danny Knobler (uh, that's pronounced "know-blur", for all you wise guys who already tried out your one-liners on the message boards under his first column and blog), he's spent the past 18 years covering the Tigers and, before that, he was one of the great minds at Baseball America.

He knows baseball, knows people, and you're going to enjoy reading him. I've admired and respected his work since we first met way back in 1994, and it's going to be a pleasure to have him in our lineup.

He knows players, general managers, field managers, scouts ... shoot, Danny knows so many folks in the game, I bet he's on a first-name basis with the pigeon who interrupted Wednesday's White Sox-Cleveland series finale, swooping down in front of the pitcher's mound to pick up part of a hot dog that somehow landed there on a blustery day.

You're familiar with baseball's Holy Grail, the five-tool player? Danny's a five-tool guy himself:

1. He's got a true passion for and understanding of the game, and he's as comfortable crunching statistics as he is telling a funny story.

2. He not only translated Sparky Anderson into English, but made it make sense.

3. He even made the Tigers' 119-loss season in 2003 interesting. And he made readers feel like they were in the clubhouse as the Tigers' 2006 World Series season unfolded.

4. He's got the stamina of Cal Ripken Jr. How else do you explain the fact that he survived so many working hours inhaling the second-hand smoke in Jim Leyland's office over the past few years?

5. He knows Thai food ...  and Cajun food, and which joints serve the best barbecue and where to get a good hamburger at 2 a.m.

What does No. 5 have to do with baseball? Well, OK, not much. But my theory is, any guy who knows food is one valuable guy. Wherever you are, whatever your work.

Anyway, enough already. You can read Danny's farewell column from Motown here. And you can read his stuff going forward just a click or two from here.

Likes: That Jays pitcher Jesse Litsch (7-1, 3.18) once was a Tampa Bay bat boy. ... Chase Utley in Philadelphia's lineup. ... Talking baseball with Toronto skipper John Gibbons, who is far more mellow than the reputation he's developed. ... Saturdays. ... Ron Santo on Cubs radio broadcasts. Maybe I'm going soft, or maybe it's simply because he's such a nice man. Normally, I hate listening to homers and cheerleaders. But Santo's groans, exclamations, shrieks and moans are so genuine that instead of blanching, I simply worry that the poor man's heart is going to go out. He and Pat Hughes are good listening. ... The fact that you can pull into a Mexican joint on just about any block in Southern California and have a terrific lunch or dinner.

Dislikes: Veteran Padres scout Ken Bracey, one of the best in the business, suffering a heart attack. Good news is, he's hoping to be back to work within a week or two. Get well soon, Brace. ... Veteran Toronto Sun baseball writer Bob Elliott messing up his shoulder not too long ago. Hope you're able to lose that sling soon, Boxer.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now"

-- Bob Dylan, My Back Pages

Posted on: February 21, 2008 5:24 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2008 5:25 pm
 

The Name -- and Mapquest -- Game

FORT MYERS, FLA. -- So I'm cruising across Metro Parkway toward the Red Sox camp in Fort Myers about 8 a.m. Thursday, still working on waking up, when I pass Danley St. and it starts again.

Within a split-second, I think of Kerwin Danley, the major-league umpire.

Twisted, I know. Whacked, I admit.

But I'm guessing I'm not alone here.

Anybody else out there have an issue with automatically associating street names with players?

Long ago, I'd be driving on I-5 in Southern California, my stomach would start growling and I'd know exactly where to exit for the In-N-Out burger: Steve Avery Parkway.

OK, truth be told, it probably isn't named for the old Atlanta left-hander. Especially because it's actual name is Avery Parkway.

A few springs ago I got turned around heading to dinner at Le Tub, a marvelous old gas station-turned-into-a-grill on Florida's intracoastal waterway.

Now I know exactly where to exit I-95. Sheridan St. How could I forget Pat Sheridan, who played outfield in the 1980s for Kansas City and Detroit?

On and on it goes. The exit leading off of I-75 in Florida that takes me to Minnesota's camp isn't Daniels Parkway, it's Kal Daniels Parkway. A tip of the cap to the Cincinnati outfielder who led the National League in on-base percentage in 1988.

The exit off of I-10 in Arizona that takes me to Peoria Stadium (home of the Mariners and Padres) is Bell Rd. -- which never fails to remind of wacky outfielder Derek Bell. He played with a number of teams, but I'll always fondly recall the time he took his uniform pants back to the Blue Jays equipment manager and asked for a longer pair.

"How long?" the equipment guy asked.

"For the whole season," Bell replied.

I could go on, but it's late afternoon and I'd sure like to get a run in before dinner and a night of prepping for tomorrow's stop, Twins camp.

Of course, when I drive back to the hotel from Boston's complex here, the route will take me on Fowler St., during which I'll no doubt think of Billy Martin's old pitching coach, Art Fowler. ...

Likes: Manny being Manny. ... Full squad workouts starting. ... Exceptional tribute to the late Bob Howsam, the highly respected former Reds executive who passed away a few days ago, from Sparky Anderson in this piece. ... Nino's Pizza and Italian Ristaurante at Daniels Crossing. Had an outstanding pizza -- New York thin crust -- from there last night, and meals there remain one of the highlights of the Florida tour. Graziano and his staff serve terrific meals with impressively fresh ingredients.

Dislikes: Fort Myers traffic has grown exponentially since I first started coming down here in 1994. It's the old joke -- Daniels Parkway, one of the main thoroughfares, is called a Parkway because you spent a whole lot of time parked on the asphalt. ... Physical exams. Everybody goes through them, of course -- such as Boston on Thursday -- but they really throw the day's schedule off.

Sunblock day? Little rain in the morning but the sun came out shortly after 9 a.m.

Rock-n-Roll lyric of the day:

"In the garbage disposal of you dreams I've been ground up, dear
"On the river of your plans I'm up the creek
"Up the elevator of your future I've been shafted
"On the calendar of your events I'm last week"

-- Johnny Cash, Flushed From the Bathroom of Your Heart

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com