Sparky Anderson was the nicest superstar I have ever shared time with. He had a heart of gold and he was such a special person.
I got to know him quite well during my time in Detroit. I went to several Tigers games while I was coaching at the University of Detroit. Sparky was so special to me, and I loved the way he called me Richard! I loved his spirit for life and he was a winner! He treated fans like they were his best friend! Sparky was so passionate about life.
I will never forget the thrill of a lifetime when I was inducted into the University of Detroit Hall of Fame. Who was there to see me, none other than Sparky Anderson! That meant so much to me. It shocked me, and we spent time together and he told me there was no way he would miss that. Wow!
He was loved by the fans, the media, his players, and everyone in baseball. His enthusiasm and zeal for baseball and for life was obvious. He loved the game of baseball.
I also appreciated the fact that he never forgot where he came from. There are some people in sports who forget about their roots. He was a .200 hitter in the majors but a big-time winner and a Hall of Famer as a manager because he knew how to get the most out of people.
Sparky was a genuine person. A lot of guys go from rags to riches and forget about their past ... but he never did that, which was another reason he was so special.
He will be missed because he was as good as it gets. May he RIP!