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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 →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Larry “The Zonk” Csonka
      January 29, 2022 | 4:43 pm
      Larry Csonka

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was the leader of a running attack that was the cornerstone of two Super Bowl Championship teams, including the only undefeated squad in NFL history.

      With his distinctive headgear and a body suited for punishing contact, Larry Csonka looked the part of a fullback and for 11 NFL seasons delivered and took regular punishment on his way to the Hall of Fame.

      Following in the great tradition of Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Jim Nance and Floyd Little, Csonka earned All-American honors at Syracuse while rushing for 2,934 yards.  He began earning a name for himself as the Most Valuable Player of the East–West Shrine Game, the Hula Bowl, and the College All-Star Game.

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