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 Sparky stops in to visit Tigers in LA

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PostSubject: Sparky stops in to visit Tigers in LA   Sun May 23, 2010 1:01 am



Sparky stops in to visit Tigers in LA
Former manager enjoys seeing Leyland, Torre, Brookens

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

05/22/10 7:55 PM ET

LOS ANGELES -- Sparky Anderson outdates Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson by more than a half-century. His Hall of Fame managerial career ended when Jackson was just 8 years old, his baseball days just beginning. Still, for a few precious minutes at Dodger Stadium on Saturday afternoon, Anderson had Jackson's attention.

Anderson was in the visitors' dugout making a point about his former Hall of Fame second baseman and current broadcaster, Joe Morgan, when he spotted Jackson near the bat rack and called him over. Jackson joined the group around Anderson and leaned in to hear.

"You know what Joe Morgan once told me as he walked by?" Anderson asked the group. "He walked by, tapped me on the leg and said, 'Skip, they don't understand a word you're saying.'"

Anderson paused. Morgan, he said, understood what he was talking about as a manager. As he talked about it, he sensed Jackson's attention.

"This young man is bright," he said, looking at Jackson. He then asked Jackson to take off his sunglasses.

Jackson smiled and obliged, looking eye to eye with the Tigers' managerial great.

"There's something about him that makes him bright," Anderson said, this time about Jackson.

"You'll make it all," Anderson continued. "Look at that face. Can he play? Oh, he can play."

Saturday was a rare visit to the park these days for Anderson, who lives in Thousand Oaks, Calif. At age 76, he doesn't move around well enough to make it a habit. But he said he wanted to make the trip to see a pair of legendary managers, Jim Leyland and Joe Torre, plus an ex-player in Detroit first-base coach Tom Brookens, who Anderson feels can be a good manager.

There are times when he looks and sounds his age. But when he walked into the Tigers' clubhouse, he seemed to get that jolt of energy from younger days, being around today's players. He gave a big hug to Ramon Santiago, whom he first met on the 2003 Tigers when Alan Trammell was managing, and shook hands with Jeremy Bonderman. Catcher Gerald Laird made a point to introduce himself and shake hands.

There were flashes when the animated Anderson who became so beloved in Detroit kicked in, simply talking about baseball. He was talking about Angels manager Mike Scioscia when he stepped up from his seat in the dugout to make a point.

"What made Mike Scoscia so good was," Anderson said, then paused as he climbed the steps to the top of the dugout. He then looked out.

"He never took his eyes off," Anderson said. "Don't you ever take your eyes off that pitcher. Don't you ever take your eyes off your own pitcher."

Anderson still loves talking about managers, what makes the great managers so great. He talked glowingly of Leyland and Torre, and similarly about others.

"There's a reason why these guys are so good," he said. "They didn't just fall into it."

Anderson sees managerial potential, too, in Brookens, his third baseman from the 1984 World Series championship team, who managed in the Tigers farm system for the past several seasons before joining Leyland's staff.

"You walk down that road, and most people in baseball don't understand the road," Anderson said.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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