The Nov. 4 death of George Lee “Sparky” Anderson is being mourned by baseball fans and countless others around the country, including in Detroit, where he managed the Tigers for 16 years and led the team to a World Series championship in 1984. “He was a remarkable person … a great human being and a man of faith,” Cardinal Adam J. Maida, retired archbishop of Detroit, said in a statement. “The baseball world and our community have lost a great ambassador.” He met Anderson shortly after his arrival in Detroit as archbishop.
“His world was more than baseball,” added the cardinal. Anderson’s charitable works included helping children in southeast Michigan.
Many news accounts say that Anderson earned the nickname “Sparky” to describe his “spirited play” when he was in the minors.
The news of his passing reminded us here at CNS of an interview our media editor, Mark Pattison, did with Anderson in Anaheim, Calif., in 1996, in which he talked about his baseball career, his decision to become a Catholic and how in 1987 he met Pope John Paul II during the pontiff’s visit to Detroit. “I shook his hand, and he said, ‘Bless you my son,’ And that’s probably one of the most memorable things that I’ll ever remember,” Anderson said. There’s a tribute page to the baseball great on legacy.com with a guestbook that has 325 entries and counting.