Anderson, sparky at.jpg
Induction Category & YearSports 2007
Home TownBridgewater, SD
BirthFebruary 22, 1934
Bridgewater, SD
DeathNovember 4, 2010
Thousand Oaks, California

   George Anderson
Champion of Excellence

Legends Bio
 Spirited, humble, and respected are words that describe a special South Dakotan who is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. George Lee “Sparky” Anderson was born on February 22, 1934, in Bridgewater, South Dakota. At the age of eight he and his family moved to California, and Sparky soon became a bat boy for the University of Southern California. He played infield for his high school baseball team, and then in 1953 Sparky went on to play in the minor league system. It was during this time that George became known as “Sparky” due to his fiery, spirited style of play.

In 1959 Sparky made it to the major leagues and played one year for the Philadelphia Phillies as a second baseman. He then returned to the minor leagues, but an owner spotted Sparky’s ability to teach players, as well as his leadership qualities, and encouraged him to become a team manager. After managing minor league teams for a few years, Sparky was named the Cincinnati Reds manager in 1969. Sparky managed this team for nine years and won World Series titles in 1975 and 1976. Sparky next went on to manage the Detroit Tigers for 16 ½ seasons. In 1984 the Tigers won the World Series title. When Sparky retired in 1995, he had won the most games of any manager in the history of both the Reds and Tigers. During Sparky’s baseball career he became the first manager to win World Series championships in both the National and American Leagues. His keen sense of baseball strategy and his ability to deal with players helped him succeed as a manager. Sparky managed some of baseball’s greats, including Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, and Ken Griffey Sr. Former Cincinnati Reds star Pete Rose said, “Sparky was, by far, the best manager I ever played for. He understood people better than anyone I ever met. His players loved him, he loved his players, and he loved the game of baseball. There isn’t another person in baseball like Sparky Anderson. He gave his whole life to the game.” In 2000 Sparky Anderson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. His 2,194 career wins are the sixth most for a manager in Major League history. In his acceptance speech, Sparky gave credit to his players. He said, “I got good players, stayed out of the way, let ‘em win a lot, and then just hung around for 26 years.” While still in Detroit, Sparky founded CATCH (Caring Athletes Teamed for Children’s and Henry Ford Hospitals). This charity helps provide care for seriously ill children. Sparky said, “There is nothing in this world that you will ever do that’s better than helping a child.”

Sparky Anderson died on November 4, 2010, in Thousand Oaks, California. His family included his wife, Carol; two sons, Lee and Albert; a daughter, Shirlee; and several grandchildren. In 2011 the Detroit Tigers honored Sparky by retiring his number 11. At the ceremony, Sparky’s nephew recalled what his uncle had once told him: “Baseball’s just a game, I’m here to talk about life, to talk about what it’s like to be nice to people and treat people right.”
Glossary
fiery with strong feeling or emotion
founded to set up or create; establish
humble not proud; modest
inducted to admit or bring in as a member
keen quick to understand
league group of sports clubs
manager a person who directs a team or an athlete
respected admired
spirited lively
strategy a careful plan or method
Activities
Extended Activities

Do you know how to play baseball? Try writing out a set of directions to teach someone how to play. Begin by reviewing the lesson on Writing Directions and going through the Practice. Then write your set of directions, being sure to include time order words. Once you are done, watch Goofy’s video on “How to Play Baseball.” Do you and Goofy agree on how to play baseball?

Common Core Standards 4.W.2 (ELA) • 4.L.3 (ELA)

SD Standards

Baseball cards are popular to collect and can be very valuable. Check out Sparky Anderson’s cards at Vintage Cards. You might also want to look at some examples of early baseball cards at American Memory. Next create your own baseball card for Sparky or for your favorite baseball player. Design the card yourself or try using one of the following online card creators:

Trading Card Creator MLB Baseball Online

Baseball All-Star Photo Frame

Common Core Standards 4. W.2 (ELA) • 4. SL.4 (ELA)

SD Standards

Ever heard of the “Bloomer Girls?” In the 1890s, women’s baseball teams were formed all over the country. Learn more about The Girls of Summer by exploring “The Roster.” Select two of the female baseball players to create a Compare and Contrast Map. This will help you compare the similarities and differences of the players you have chosen.

Common Core Standards 4. W.2 (ELA) • 4. SL.4 (ELA)

SD Standards

Write a poem about Sparky Anderson. Try creating a Theme Poem in the shape of a baseball or a diamond. Print your poem and share a copy with your classmates.

Common Core Standards 4.W.9 (ELA) • 4.RL.5 (ELA) • 4.L.5 (ELA)

SD Standards

On your own or with a group of classmates try creating a Baseball ABC Book. Be sure to include Sparky Anderson as one of the letters! Try using the Alphabet Organizer to gather your ideas and produce your book. Use some of the links provided for Sparky. You might also want to check out the Baseball Glossary and Terms.

Common Core Standards 4.RI.2 (ELA) • 4.RI.7 (ELA) • 4.W.1 (ELA) • 4.W.2 (ELA)

SD Standards

Batter up! Track your favorite baseball teams’ hits and look for patterns in where the ball goes. Go to the Cyberchase website and print out the chart to track the hits. What patterns can you find?

Common Core Standards 4.OA.5 (Math) • SMP 2, 5 (Math)

SD Standards

Major league baseball players have to have quick reaction times if they hope to hit a 90 mph fastball pitch. How’s your reaction time? Go to Fastball Reaction Time and see how you do. Write down your reaction time for 10 tries and graph the results. Create your own graph or try using Create-a-Graph.

Common Core Standards 4.RI.7 (ELA)

SD Standards

Calculating batting averages is important in baseball. Try playing a quick dice game to practice calculating batting averages. Roll a pair of dice for your turn at bat. No dice? Try Virtual Dice. If the total of the die is 2, 3, 11, or 12, you have a HIT. Any other roll is an OUT. Keep rolling the dice and keep track of your hits. At several points in the game, stop your play and create a fraction and decimal for the batting average (HITS divided by at BATS). For example, in the case of 2 for 3, the fraction would be 2/3 and the decimal .67. Play individually or in teams with a batting order and innings. (Math Games for Every Sport)

Common Core Standards 4.NBT.6 (Math) • SMP 1, 5, 6, 7 (Math)

SD Standards

Reed and Nick conducted a baseball investigation to compare the “sweet spot” on an aluminum bat and on a wooden bat. Watch the DragonflyTV video from PBS to see what they learned. Then it is your turn! Using different types of bats, hit balls off a tee, and record how far the average hit is using each bat. Write a summary of what you learned from your experiment.

Common Core Standards 4.W.2 (ELA) • 4.L.3 (ELA)

SD Standards
Documents
Videos

Sparky Anderson Biography

Sparky Anderson - Baseball Hall of Fame Biographies
Image Gallery
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Links
Home Town (Bridgewater, SD)
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