They fought with each other, even as they worked together to build a champion.
They told stories about each other, even as both knew that the partnership worked.
Just last year, Bill Lajoie was telling me how he would hide the old Red Book and Green Book from Sparky Anderson as long as he could each spring training, in fear that Sparky would search through the rosters and come up with more players he absolutely had to have.
Lajoie was the general manager who built the 1984 Tigers. Anderson was the manager who took them to a championship.
Sparky died last month, at age 76. Bill died today, also at 76.
The baseball world will never forget Sparky. The baseball world will never forget Bill, either.
I know I won't.
When I started on the big-league baseball beat, it was with the 1990 Tigers. Sparky was the manager, and Bill was the GM.
Bill ended one of our first conversations by yelling at me. He ended our last conversation while he was GM by cursing at me, and then hanging up on me.
That was Bill, and anyone who knew him would tell you that was Bill. He was emotional, he was volatile, but he was also caring.
And he was one of the best talent evaluators baseball has ever known.
He left the Tigers abruptly after that 1991 season, but he went on to help the Braves continue their mid-1990s run. He helped convince the Brewers to draft Prince Fielder. He helped the Red Sox to the curse-ending 2004 title, then put together the trade that brought Josh Beckett to Boston.
He mellowed in his later years, as he continued working in baseball (he was a special assistant with the Pirates when he died).
I'd remind him of our earlier conversations, and he'd chuckle. It's not like I was the only one Bill Lajoie ever yelled at.
But most of us didn't mind. That was Bill, and the next time you'd talk to him, he was just as likely to give you exactly what you were looking for.
Hey, I'll guarantee you there were plenty of times he yelled at Sparky, too.
If you followed the '84 Tigers, or even if you just want an inside look at baseball scouting (and a response to Moneyball ), get a copy of the book Lajoie wrote along with Anup Sinha, Character is Not a Statistic .