Teams: Cincinnati Reds, 1970-1978; Detroit Tigers, 1979-1995
As a ballplayer, George Anderson's major-league career was brief -- just a single season as second baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies. But as a big-league manager, he was around for a quarter of a century. His nickname of "Sparky" said it all.
Unflaggingly optimistic, but with a keen baseball mind, Sparky (born 1934) got the most from his players -- when they were good and when they were not. As a result, Anderson retired with more managerial wins than anybody except Connie Mack and John McGraw.
With the Cincinnati Reds, Anderson posted the nearly unbelievable total of 863 victories in just nine seasons. He was the first manager to win 600 games in both leagues, was twice Manager of the Year in the National League and once in the American, and was the first manager to win the World Series in both leagues, leading the Detroit Tigers to the crown in 1984.
Anderson's first exposure to baseball thinking came when he served as batboy under Rod Dedeaux, the legendary baseball coach at the University of Southern California. Sparky managed in the minors for five seasons after his playing career ended.
When Sparky joined the Reds in 1970, one of the great teams in baseball history came together. With future Hall of Famers Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Tony Perez -- as well as Pete Rose -- they dominated the National League for the decade, finishing below second only once.
In Sparky's nine years there, his minions won five division titles, four pennants, and back-to-back World Series championships, sweeping the Yankees in 1976 to cap it off. The consecutive world championships by the Reds were the first by a National League team since McGraw's New York Giants of 1921-22.
Although he was blessed with a marvelous crop of sluggers and superb fielders, Anderson never had a consistent staff of starting pitchers. So he used his relievers. A lot. His quickness to make a pitching change earned him the nickname "Captain Hook."
In addition to their World Series win in 1984, Sparky's Tigers also took a division title in '87. Anderson's enthusiasm sometimes led him to overstate his case when bragging about his ballplayers, once calling Kirk Gibson "the next Mickey Mantle."
In 1989, with his Tigers on their way to a last-place finish, 30 games out, Sparky had to spend time in a hospital for nervous exhaustion. It was only his second losing record in 20 years. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000.
Here are Sparky Anderson's major league managing totals:
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