Sparky Anderson lit up the room with his one-of-a-kind takes on baseball topics ranging from Barry Bonds to his record that will soon be broken.

The Hall of Fame manager was back in Detroit on Sunday night to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 2 of the World Series, but not before he regaled a usually cynical audience of media members and had them laughing.

Would Anderson like to see Bonds, dogged by steroid allegations, break Hank Aaron’s home run record?

“I’m dancing with you now,” Anderson said with his familiar grin. “I’ll tell you the truth, I don’t believe that anybody should wish either way. Let him play, and what he does, he does. But remember this, baseball is only as good and as strong as the records we break.”

Anderson led Cincinnati to championships in 1975 and 1976 and helped the Tigers win the World Series in 1984, becoming the only manager with titles in both leagues.

St. Louis manager Tony La Russa or Detroit manager Jim Leyland will be the second to accomplish the feat. La Russa won his title in Oakland in 1989 and Leyland’s championship was with Florida in 1997.

The 72-year-old Anderson has no qualms about sharing the record.

“I don’t believe anyone can own this game,” said Anderson, whose career record was 2,194-1,834 from 1970-1995. “I certainly didn’t own it. I managed 26 years and found out when I retired I didn’t own the game. I thought I owned it when I was managing all those years.

“You can climb to the top of the mountain, get down on your knees and kiss the ground because you’ll never own that mountain.”

Alan Trammell was the World Series MVP in 1984, the last time the Tigers were in the World Series. The shortstop was brought back to the franchise to manage an awful team in 2003.

Trammell endured an AL-record 119-loss season three years ago and two more rough seasons with a flawed or injury-depleted team before he was fired last year, paving the way for Leyland to be hired in a move that sparked Detroit’s stunning turnaround.

Seeing his former player sent packing a year before Detroit made it back to the World Series did not make it bittersweet, Anderson insisted.

“When you sign a contract, I think you sign to be fired,” he said. “I certainly got it, Bobby Cox got it and Tony got it. Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa, if we had to vote today, you would have to vote one of the two the greatest managers of all times. You’re not going to give Connie Mack that because he used to leave after the third or fourth inning if things were bad there. The elevator girl was waiting for him.”

Cox led the Atlanta Braves to 14 straight division titles, a run that ended this season, and Mack was the longtime manager of the Philadelphia Athletics who wore a suit in the dugout rather than a uniform.

AP-ES-10-22-06 2138EDT


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.