George Lee "Sparky" Anderson, who died Thursday at age 76, was one of the best managers, and finest gentlemen, in baseball. He was third on the list of baseball's all-time winningest managers, with 2194 while managing the Cincinnati Reds and the Detroit Tigers. Combined, he led them to 5 Pennants and 3 World Series Titles. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000, and in typical modesty, he gave all the credit to his players and none to himself.
In 2005, I hosted and produced One Night in February-Inside the Roast of a Manager, Tony La Russa's 60th birthday roast. I was lucky enough to spend a weekend listening to, among many other greats, Sparky's excellent stories. I watched him conduct himself with such grace and kindness to all. Often, the guys with the fiercest game faces (Sparky, Bob Gibson, La Russa, for example) are the gentlest souls with the kindest hearts. Here is a clip from that DVD. By the way, 100% of sales of that DVD went to help pay off Tony La Russa's ARF (www.arf.net), a beautiful animal shelter in Walnut Creek, CA.