Charming, heartfelt memoir about legendary baseball manager George “Sparky” Anderson (1934–2010) by his longtime manager, co-author (They Call Me Sparky, 1998, etc.) and dear friend.
Shortly before Anderson’s death, the author sat at his kitchen table and reminisced with him, as they had done so often over the course of a 32-year friendship. Out of these conversations Ewald develops a portrait of an extraordinary person. There was no doubt about Anderson’s managing abilities; three World Series championships and a plaque in the Hall of Fame attest to that. He was also one of the last of baseball’s great characters. With a shock of white hair, craggy features, gravelly voice and a Casey Stengel–like gift for mangling the English language (“a language filled with words he created as he went along”), Anderson charmed the media and everyone else who came into contact with him. Ultimately, though, he saw himself as “a blue-collar worker who happened to wear a baseball uniform to work. No better. No worse.” No fan would ever be denied a handshake, and no working person—be it a waitress, a bus driver or a U.S. president (one or two of whom he knew)—would ever be disrespected in his presence. From Anderson, Ewald learned the simple lesson that each person has dignity and deserves both respect and compassion. In lesser hands, such a lesson could come off as trite or just another treatise on the life lessons sports can teach. But Ewald’s subtle remembrances fully flesh out Anderson’s personality. He was a person as much at home at the local supermarket (where he knew everyone’s name) as he was in a major league clubhouse. A week or so after the author’s visit Anderson was gone, but his simple but not simplistic lessons remained.
A friend’s moving tribute, to be enjoyed by baseball fans and nonfans alike.