My first time in a major league clubhouse involved an interview with legendary baseball manager Sparky Anderson, who died today at the age of 76.
He was generous, funny and really helpful. Big league baseball is fraught with prima donnas. Sparky wasn’t one of them.
I remember him eating some pre-game fried chicken during our interview and even offering me a drumstick. Because of Sparky I was able to put together a pretty decent feature on Cecil Fielder, leading the AL in RBIs and homers in 1991. I’ve never forgotten what a decent man Sparky was — when he could have been a jerk like most people in baseball.
Besides being a nice guy, Sparky was a great field general. He led the Big Red Machine to glory in the 1970s and the Detroit Tigers to a title in 1984.
When he did color for Angels games in the 1990s his knowledge and colorful descriptions really enhanced the tedious experience of watching baseball on television.