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.