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Sparky Anderson - The Early Years

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George Lee Anderson was born February 22, 1934 in Bridgewater, South Dakota. The family had little money and moved to Los Angeles in 1942 in search of work in the shipyards. Anderson's interest in baseball was first sparked by his father, who played catcher on a semipro team and encouraged his son's interest in the sport. After hanging around the baseball field at the University of Southern California, Anderson was offered a job as the team's batboy and formed a lifelong relationship with their coach, Rod Dedeaux. The world revolved around baseball for Anderson and his friends. It was the only thing that caught his attention other than Carol Valle. Valle, a girl he met in the fifth grade, would become his wife in 1953.

Anderson took two buses to attend Dorsey High because the school he was supposed to attend didn't offer baseball. Playing shortstop for Dorsey, he was recognized for his enthusiasm for the game more than his talent.

Sparky Anderson

"There were some guys with much greater ability," remembered Dedaux in Anderson's book They Call Me Sparky. "But they played to maybe 80% of their ability. Georgie always gave you 110%. That pushed him past guys who had more natural talent than him." His drive is what initially caught the interest of Lefty Phillips, a part-time scout for the Cincinnati Reds. When Anderson graduated from high school Phillips was then a full-time scout for the Brooklyn Dodgers and quickly signed Anderson to play for Santa Barbara in the California State League. He would toil in the Dodgers' farm system until 1959 when he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies. He then played one season with the Phillies, his only season in the major leagues. He soon moved to the International League in Toronto and played second base until he became the team's manager in 1964.


1934 Born February 22 in Bridgewater, South Dakota
1942 Moves to Los Angeles
1953 Marries Carol Valle
1959 Makes major league debut with Philadelphia
1964 Becomes minor league manager in Toronto
1969 Accepts managerial position with the Cincinnati Reds
1970 Gets first win as a major league manager
1970 Makes first trip to the World Series
1972 Wins National League Manager of the Year
1975 Wins first World Series with the Reds
1975 Named National League Manager of the Year
1978 Fired by Cincinnati
1979 Named Detroit Tigers' new manager
1984 Wins World Series with the Tigers
1987 Wins a division title with the Tigers
1993 Gets his 2,000 career win
1995 Retires from baseball
2000 Inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame
Sparky Anderson - Chronology [next]

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over 10 years ago

2007 Inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame