God Bless you, Sparky. Tell Ernie, we all say 'hi'.
Here is Sparky and some of the players from the great 1984 World Series Champions talking about what Sparky meant in their lives, not just what he meant to them in terms of baseball.
A great roundup of Sparky Anderson articles and tributes can be found over at BlessYouBoys.com.
Today, October 14th, is a date which lives in Detroit Tigers infamy. Three significant events occurred on this date for the Detroit Tigers.
October 14, 1908
The Detroit Tigers lost to the Chicago Cubs 2-0 in the deciding game five of the 1908 World Series. This would be the last time that the Cubs would win the World Series (as of 2010, anyway). The game attendance of 6,210 at Bennett Park ranks as the lowest ever for a World Series game. With the Cubs' 1907-08 World Series championships, they became baseball's first dynasty.
October 14, 1984
The Tigers were leading the 1984 World Series 3 games to 1 over the San Diego Padres. Interestingly enough, the Cubs could have had a World Series rematch against the Tigers, but they collapsed after a 2-0 NLCS lead over the Padres.
The Tigers held a 5-4 lead going into the bottom of the 8th in Game Five of the World Series. Kirk Gibson came to the plate with runners on second and third and Goose Gossage on the mound - an intentional walk would have been in order. After all, Gibson had already belted a home run in the first inning to give the Tigers the early 3-0 lead.
However, Gibson was 1 for 10 against Gossage during his career up to that point and Gossage told his manager, Dick Williams, that he could strike out Gibson. The count was 1-0 and Tigers manager, Sparky Anderson, yelled from the dugout, "He don't want to walk you!" and gave the motion for swing away. Gibson ripped a 1-0 fastball into the upper deck in right field for a three run home run and pretty much assured the Tigers faithful that the Detroit Tigers would be the 1984 World Series Champions.
October 14, 2006
The Detroit Tigers were one win away from sweeping the Oakland A's and going on to the World Series. Game four of the 2006 ALCS was a back and forth affair and the Tigers had to claw their way back from a 3-0 deficit. In the bottom of the 9th the score was tied 3-3.
With two outs in the bottom of the 9th, Craig Monroe and Placido Polanco each hit singles. Magglio Ordonez came up to the plate with two on and two outs. On a 1-0 count Magglio absolutely crushed Huston Street's fastball into the left field stands for a three run walk off home run to send the Tigers to the 2006 World Series.
I just about cried watching Magglio circle the bases with his fist in the air, the pure joy of Craig Monroe waving both arms over his head, and Placido Polanco happily skipping all the way to home plate. Man, what a moment. Even today I get goosebumps just watching the replay.