This Day in Baseball History: July 29th, 1986

Does anyone know where “Sparky” came from?

On July 29, 1986:

Sparky Anderson wins number 600 in the American League.

As a player, Sparky Anderson wasn’t much. Anderson was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1953 as a second base prospect. Like most middle infield prospects, he was a pretty good fielder but a poor hitter. In the minors, he hit .263 with a .325 slugging percentage. Finally at age 25, he received his chance in the major leagues, but he didn’t do much. His glove couldn’t make up for a .218 average in over 500 at-bats when there was no pop (o HR, 9 2B). After that 1959 season, he was returned the minor leagues, where he would stay for four more seasons.

Fortunately while with the Toronto Maples Leafs (of the International League not the National Hockey League), Jack Kent Cooke saw Anderson’s leadership qualities and began trying to convince Anderson that his abilities would be best used in a managerial role. In 1964 and following several tough minor league seasons, Anderson relented and became the Leafs manager. Five years later, Anderson returned the major leagues but this time as a coach. He became an Angels coach in the following off-season, but the Cincinnati Reds called with a managerial position a few days later.

Anderson, of course, accepted the position, and the rest is history. In his first season, he won 102 games and an NL pennant. He and the Reds won 2 World Series titles in 1975 and 1976 as part of the Big Red Machine. In 1979, he left for the Detroit Tigers, and he became the first manager to win a World Series in both leagues in 1984. Two years after that and on July 29, 1986, he won his 600th game as a Detroit Tiger. Combined with the fact that he won over 600 in Cincinnati, Anderson became the first manager to win 600 games in each league.

Only five managers (John McGraw, Connie Mack, Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox, and Joe Torre) have won more games than Anderson’s 2,194.

Trivia Time
What is Sparky’s real name?

Yesterday’s Answer –> Pittsburgh Pirates and the Pittsburgh Pirates


4 Responses to “This Day in Baseball History: July 29th, 1986”

  1. Dan Says:

    According to one book I have, George Anderson's nickname came from a radio broadcaster calling him a "Sparky fella" after the hot-headed Forth Worth infielder started yet another argument with an umpire.

  2. Kevin Says:

    Not sure about Sparky, but the 1st guy on your list is John McGraw, not Jim.

  3. tHeMARksMiTh Says:

    You are correct, sir. I have no idea how that happened. It shall be corrected.

  4. dayana Says:

    I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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