Sunday, January 29, 2006

CLU Honors Sparky

Courtesy of the L.A. Daily News
Hall of Fame manager has field named in his honor
By Kevin Connelly, Staff Writer
L.A. Daily News
Inside SOCAL

THOUSAND OAKS - Four-time manager of the year Sparky Anderson skipped, jumped and hopped his way to the pitcher's mound Saturday afternoon at California Lutheran University's inauguration of George 'Sparky' Anderson Field.

With a standing-room-only crowd looking on, Anderson - the fourth winningest manager in major league history - laughed as he short-hopped home plate with the ceremonial first pitch at CLU's annual alumni game.

Anderson, a longtime Thousand Oaks resident, then satisfied countless autograph requests and joked with coaches, players, umpires and fans. He equated CLU baseball to his experiences in the major leagues.

"It's all the same to me," Anderson said. "It's still 60 feet from the pitchers mound to home and 90 feet from home to first. I've been on plenty of baseball fields in the major leagues and some of them don't look as good as this (field)."

"What I miss about coaching is the players," said Anderson, who won championships with Cincinnati's `Big Red Machine' in 1975 and 1976 and another with the Detroit Tigers in 1984. "It's so much fun to be a part of that. I remember having players who thought they were con-men, but I'm the biggest con-man there is."

In attendance was Ernie Harwell, broadcaster for the Detroit Tigers from 1960-91 and 1993-2002. Harwell, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame and winner of broadcasting's Ford Frick Award in 1981, covered the Anderson-coached Tigers from 1979-91 and 1993-95.

"Sparky is one of the great managers of all time," Harwell said. "(But) too much emphasis is placed on the major leagues. Real baseball happens in places like this, where (the game) can take place in its purest form."

Anderson was born Feb. 22, 1934 in Bridgewater, S.D. He made his major league debut in 1959 as the starting second baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies, hitting .218. He never played another season.

Anderson began his coaching career in 1964 with a Triple-A team in Toronto, winning four International League pennants from 1964-68. After one year as a coach for the San Diego Padres, Anderson was named manager of the Reds in 1970. He managed the next 35 years with the Reds and Tigers, finishing 2194-1834 (.545) overall.

Anderson retired in 1995 and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000.

Courtesy of the L.A. Daily News

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