While it would have been nice to do it while he was alive, the Tigers are nonetheless doing the right thing and are retiring Sparky Anderson’s number before Sunday’s game.
The best part of it — and I’m sure it’s no accident — is that they’re doing it with the Diamondbacks in town. The Diamondbacks managed by Kirk Gibson and bench coached by Alan Trammell, who are arguably the two most significant players of Anderson’s run in Detroit. Well, we can add Lou Whitaker to that, but I’m guessing he’ll be there too. No idea about Jack Morris, but I don’t much care for him, so it makes no difference.
In the Detroit Free press today there’s an interview with Gibson, who recounts a great story about an incident in 1983 in which Anderson, trying his best to either motivate or infuriate Gibson — it’s not clear which it is — lined up against the former Michigan State receiver like he was a defensive back and got run over by him. I had never heard it before, but as a kid whose first reading of newspaper sports sections included a healthy dose of stories that could have been headlined “Kirk Gibson: will this jerk football player ever figure out how to play baseball?” it resonates.
And, for no reason, I reprint this picture I took in Arizona during spring training, which is easily my favorite baseball picture I’ve ever taken: