January 22, 2011

Tigers’ Treatment of Sparky Descends from Sour Grapes to Bush League

Thumbs Down2.jpgI suppose it was inevitable that the Tigers would retire Sparky Anderson. The only question, at least in my mind, was whether it would happen before or after owner Mike Ilitch moved on to the next life.

Two months after Sparky’s death, todaythe Tigers announced they’ll retire his number 11 and wear a patch with the number all season.

I understand his passing happened after the season and there wasn’t much they could do, but couldn’t the Tigers have chosen another time — any other time — to honor (or at least announce their intention to honor) their winningest manager?

Here are just a few opportunities they wasted:

  • 1994: The 10th anniversary of the 1984 World Series championship
  • 2000: His induction in to the Baseball Hall of Fame
  • 2004: The 20th anniversary of the ’84 championship
  • 2005: Comerica Park All-Star Game festivities
  • 2006: Any time during the postseason
  • 2009: The 25th reunion event for the ’84 club, when it was clear that Sparky’s health was declining.

Yes, the fact the Tigers are honoring Sparky is a good thing — and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Dave Dombrowski that finally convinced Ilitch that the Great Sparky Schism needed to end.

But still, two months after his death? 18 months after the last, best opportunity?


“Better late than never” just doesn’t work for me in this instance.

6 Comment(s)

  1. John Sharp | Jan 22, 2011 | Reply

    The #11 was worn proudly by Bill Freehan for 15 years, 11 All-Star games, 5 Gold Gloves, a .993 lifetime fielding %( a record that stood for 40 years), and the backbone of the 1968 World Series Champions.

    Any ceremony retiring #11 must begin with Freehan first, he deserves it.

  2. Mike McClary | Jan 22, 2011 | Reply

    That’s a good point, John. I think they should definitely acknowledge Freehan’s career as another notable Tiger to wear #11.

  3. RangoStirr | Jan 22, 2011 | Reply

    I think another key opportunity might have been…oh…I don’t know…SPARKY ANDERSON DAY at Comerica Park!
    I still have my poster from that day.

  4. Mike McClary | Jan 22, 2011 | Reply

    Ha! I’d forgotten all about that event — what a no-brainer. Man, they really did blow it.

  5. Jim Craddock | Jan 22, 2011 | Reply

    I agree that they should have done this SO MANY times when he was alive.

    And the Freehan connection to that number should definitely be acknowledged. Especially since I’ve heard that he is very ill.

  6. Jamie Daws | Jan 23, 2011 | Reply

    Totally agree, Mike. Very bad form. It makes me wonder if for some sick reason, they waited for Sparky to pass away. My only hope is that it was Sparky’s wish that they not retire his number while he was alive.

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