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Hall of Fame manager George “Sparky” Anderson died Nov. 4 from complications from dementia at age 76. The Cincinnati Reds won back-to-back championships in 1975 and 1976 with Anderson at the helm. He also led the Detroit Tigers to a 1984 title. "I got good players, stayed out of their way, let them win a lot and then just hung around for 26 years," Anderson explained during his Hall of Fame acceptance speech.
The cause of his death was complications related to dementia, according to a family spokesperson. Yesterday, Anderson's family said he had been put into hospice care for the condition.
Anderson, born George but known to all as Sparky, worked as a big league skipper for 26 years and became the first manager in Major League Baseball to guide teams from both the American and National Leagues to titles when his Detroit Tigers won the World Series in 1984. Anderson had previously been at the helm when the Cincinnati Reds -- or the "Big Red Machine," as the powerhouse team was dubbed -- won back-to-back championships in 1975 and 1976.
He retired from baseball in 1995 and was inducted into the Hall in 2000.
"Let me tell you this, and get it straight," Anderson said during his induction speech. "Players earn this by their skills. Managers come here, as I did, on their backs. I never believed different, I will never believe different, and I think that's what made my career so lucky."
Lucky, yes, but also good. His career record of 2,194 wins and 1,834 losses was good enough to put Anderson at third on the list of most wins by a manager in baseball history.
And as good and lucky as he was, Anderson was also known to be kind and funny. As the story goes, he was once told by a colleague that he was "one of a kind."
"That's good," Anderson is said to have responded. "The world couldn't take two of me."
Now the world will miss the one and only Sparky Anderson.