(Tony Ranze/Getty Images)
Sparky Anderson talks to reporters in 1995 at Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Fla., where the Tigers held spring training.
Here’s excerpts from a story that the Daily News’ Kevin Modesti did on Sparky Anderson in 1990, after he was forced to take a 2 1/2 week vacation at his home because of exhaustion:
Anderson is 56 now. His white hair no longer looks as out-of-place as it did at 40. The hair is thinning a bit in front. The circles under his eyes are deeper and darker. His hand shakes ever so slightly as he pours a soft drink into a styrofoam cup. He speaks more slowly, more softly.
“The only way I’ve changed is I’ve gotten older and quieter,” says Anderson, who said earlier in the season that for the first time, he feels more like a George than a Sparky. “And I don’t want to be around crowds. Like my wife said, ‘You’ve paid your dues. Let the young managers do that.’ ”
He is more than older and quieter. He has found peace. …
“I came into baseball with only a high school education. Without baseball I would have been a painter. With baseball I own six homes and I have more money than I ever dreamed I’d have.”
Each of his three children has one of the houses; Sparky bought one for his mother; Anderson and his wife, Carol, share the winter home in Thousand Oaks and a condominium in Detroit. They are building a seventh house in Dearborn, Mich. …
“I look at it this way: I came into baseball because I love baseball,” he says. “I’ve never worked, other than the first few years in the minor leagues, when I worked at home in the winter. I stay in the best hotels, I get unbelievable meal money.
“Why would I not want to stay in baseball?” …
Sparky Anderson is a baseball Calvinist. A stoic. He takes the bad with the good.
He doesn’t blame the game. He doesn’t blame himself.
“I love this game every bit as much as I did before, maybe more,” he says. “Because now I know what it takes to survive.”
== Another Modesti piece from 1997 when Anderson was making his first visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame (linked here):
Anderson said he doesn’t even tie his shoes when he runs errands in the Thousand Oaks neighborhood he and his wife Carol have called home for 31 years.
“Never know when I might have to get out of ’em in a hurry,” he said with a mischievous
chuckle. “My wife gets on me about the way I dress. I wear sloppy clothes. I say, it doesn’t matter, they know me, they know I’m an idiot.”
== An email from Paul Olden, the former L.A.-based baseball broadcaster and current public address announcer for the New York Yankees:
It was just a couple of weeks ago when I asked ESPN’s Joe Morgan (in New York for the ALCS) how Sparky was doing and he passed along a less-than-upbeat update. Now comes the news.
Sparky and I attended Dorsey High School- he about about 20 years ahead of me, a student there in the 1950s. I first learned of him when, as a freshman student in the late 60s, I discovered his picture posted in the gym building in a makeshift wall of fame there. I didn’t get to meet him until 1988 when I first made it to the Majors as a play by play guy for Cleveland.
And he was a great guy – I think the Dorsey connection helped break the ice. He was always willing to sit and talk – at length – in his office at Tiger Stadium about his team or whatever.
== And then there’s his pre-game rant about writers (more to the point: headline writers) in Los Angeles back in the 70s when he came to town to some unflattering news: