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Sports Then and Now



Remembering Sparky Anderson: Manager of the Big Red Machine 7

Posted on November 05, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Sparky ANderson (center) guided the famous Cincinnati "Big Red Machine" to four pennants and two World Series titles in nine seasons.

News this week of the illness and then death of Hall of Fame manager George “Sparky” Anderson has elicited many fond memories of the feisty manager who enjoyed unparalleled success during 26 seasons managing the Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers.

When Anderson was introduced as the new manager of the Cincinnati Reds prior to the 1970 season many asked “Sparky Who?” and wondered why management would turn the reins of one of baseball’s up and coming teams to an unknown 36-year-old who had spent one season playing in the majors for the Philadelphia Phillies (hit .218 in 152 games in 1959) and never managed above AA.

As it turns out, Cincinnati General Manager Bob Howsman, who had hired Anderson for minor league managerial stints with the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds, had the manager he needed to turn the Reds into baseball’s team of the 1970s.

It didn’t take long for Anderson to prove that he was indeed the right man for the job. During his first season at the helm, the Reds won 102 games and reached the World Series for the first time since 1961.

Though they lost the Series to the Baltimore Orioles, with emerging superstars like Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Tony Perez and Dave Concepcion, the “Big Red Machine” had been born. Read the rest of this entry →

Waiting For The Weekend: Did You Say Playoffs? 0

Posted on October 02, 2009 by Dean Hybl
Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers are are looking to complete the 2009 playoff picture.

Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers are are looking to complete the 2009 playoff picture.

The first few weeks of October are always great sports weeks as between the Major League Baseball playoffs, college and pro football, the NASCAR Chase and the starts of hockey and basketball seasons there is more than enough to keep every sports nut happy.

Did You Say Playoffs?
While we have known most of the teams participating in the playoffs for several weeks. The Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers have kept things interesting in the AL Central.

Even if Minnesota doesn’t make the playoffs, they should get credit for doing more with less than any other team in baseball. Now that the Oakland A’s have hit the skids the last couple years, the Twins have emerged as the most consistent contender among the teams generally seen as the “have-nots” in baseball.

Remember at the start of this decade when the buzzword was contraction and many thought the Twins should go?

With their new park scheduled to open next year, look for the Twins to remain competitive. Of course, a new stadium doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you will be competitive on the field (just ask fans of the Pirates and Reds), but for a management team that is among the best in the league, the potential of having more resources could make them really dangerous.
Read the rest of this entry →

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    • Tony Oliva: Hall of Fame Worthy
      April 21, 2019 | 5:18 pm
      Tony Oliva

      Cuba is known for producing great baseball talent and there has arguably been no one from the island better than the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month.

      Before injuries cut short his Hall of Fame worthy career, Tony Oliva was one of the best hitters in baseball and combined with Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmen Killebrew to make the Minnesota Twins a perennial American League contender during the late 1960s.

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