CY Young, here we come?

Was Verlander something else last night? Some excited fans posted a large pre-printed K from the stands with every strikeout. Only problem is that they didn't pre print enough - they had tpo manufacture some on the spot. He is dominating and gets stronger as the game goes along.

Tied with the Indians again. They lost their game when their pitcher was called for a balk with the bases loaded, a cheap way for us to regain a share of first place, but we'll take it.

Welcome Gibby and Tram

Hope to get down to Comerica for a game this weekend. Exciting to see Kirk and Alan here in Detroit. Niether played here. And we know what happened to poor Tram while he managed here. Great to see the Diamonbacks at or near the top of their division. I think Kirk is in training for the Detroit job when Leyland leaves -- who knows. Glad they will be here when Sparky's number is retired Sunday. I am sure that will be an emotional day. I will be helping to celebrate Fr. Prus's 50th anniversary of priesthood. He is a fantasy camper of the Tigers, among many other accomplishments.
Go Tigers!!!

A Sweet Father's Day Story

(From the Dallas Morning News)

ATLANTA — I took my father to a baseball game Friday. It was his last.

He is 87, dying from congestive heart failure and has been in the care of a hospice nurse for two months. We know what lies ahead shortly.

And yet, this is not a sad story. Not in the least.

Some 40 years ago, just down the block in what is now a parking lot, my dad introduced me to Major League Baseball. By taking my hand and walking with me on what was a perfect day — at least as far as I remember — into Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, he opened a door to a world that has become my passion and my life.

I wanted to simply try and repay him by taking him to one game as a way of saying thanks.

It was going to be my Father’s Day gift to him. Instead, it is about a gift he gave me.

This whole idea arose during spring training. Dad, who celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary to my mother in December, was in and out of the hospital on a couple of occasions because of fluid retention and what we assume is the continual decline in his heart function. One morning, his doctor called me in Arizona.

“Evan, I think you should be prepared to lose your dad fairly soon,” he said.

I thought I had been prepared already. He’s been in congestive heart failure for 13 years. In 1998, I had rushed back to Atlanta when he took sick and seemed to be failing fast. During that time, Mom and I made burial plans. When I finally had to leave to return to Dallas, he was still in the hospital, pale and frail. I hugged him tight, really thinking it would be the last time I’d see him.

Somehow, he stabilized. Nearly a year later, a new cardiologist performed a second heart bypass on Dad with great results. But I knew then, the next episode would probably be the last. For 10 years, I’d been preparing myself.

Flood of memories

Then baseball had to get in the way. After the doctor’s call, I wandered around the Rangers complex in Surprise, my head flooded with memories of Dad and I at sporting events. As a child, that was our bond. He liked sports, and I loved them.

There was a Hawks game for which he’d prepped me with stories about “Pistol Pete” and his droopy socks. The Hawks played a championship-caliber Milwaukee team that night, but I can’t remember what Lew Alcindor or Pete Maravich did. I only remember walking with my dad toward Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

There was a Falcons game against Chicago. Later, during a five-year “exile” in South Florida after jobs dried up in Atlanta, there was an NBA exhibition in which Artis Gilmore nearly ran over my mom. There was a trip to Yankees spring training when I somehow scored a baseball autographed by both Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford. There was a time he indulged me with wrestling tickets to see the “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes in a “Bunkhouse Match,” whatever that was. We never saw it, though, because I was ejected from the arena for tossing an empty Coke cup at bad guy Jos LeDuc.

When I ask him at lunch Friday about his most vivid memory of us at a sporting event, he says: “Unfortunately, that wrestling match when you got ejected.”

I got it: That wasn’t very sportsmanlike.

And every year, there was a whole day trip to West Palm Beach to see my beloved Braves play a spring training game. Every spring, I found a game on the schedule that sounded exciting. We’d make plans and drive an hour — seemed like three or four at the time — from Fort Lauderdale to West Palm so I could hopefully see Phil Niekro and Jeff Burroughs and Brian Asselstine. Hey, it was the late 1970s, man.

Plan takes root

The conversation with the doctor wasn’t nearly as depressing as it was inspiring.

I wanted one last chance to spend time at a sporting event with Dad.

The Rangers schedule provided the slightest glimmer of hope. Father’s Day weekend, they’d be in Atlanta, which meant so would I. I called my parents.

“Mom, if he makes it until June, I’m taking Daddy to a baseball game,” I said.

First, she dismissed it. Then she, in her role of caretaker and guardian, explained all the logical reasons why it couldn’t happen.

I didn’t budge.

Her response: “Alevei!” It’s Yiddish. Basically, it means: “we should be so lucky!”

We were very lucky.

Dad began at-home hospice care in April. It is not a bad thing. The hospice people have reduced his medications dramatically. It may make it more difficult to prolong his life an extra couple of weeks or a month, but he is now more alert and energetic and he can, to some extent, enjoy what days remain.

For him, though, enjoyment these days is mostly a bingo game. Or an outing to Costco, his favorite store on the planet, to sample foods and drive the electric cart while picking up household supplies.

On Friday, when I see him for the first time in two months, he looks hunched over, but more steady on his legs than before. He hugs me close.

“Are you excited about tonight?” I say. “Because I am.”

“I’m excited to be with my son.”

Game day

There are moments when I think this has become an exceptionally bad idea. He doesn’t sound nearly as excited as I feel. His vision is so impaired now that when he squeezes lemon into his Diet Coke at lunch, he misses the glass by a couple of inches. His hearing is so impaired, he asks for repetition of almost every statement. If he can’t see or hear, how can he enjoy the game?

On top of that, I realize you can’t account for everything shortly after we leave their apartment. I think I’ve got everything covered: wheelchair, handicapped parking, covered seats, a portable oxygen tank and the hospice number in case anything goes wrong. But I forgot to pack an umbrella and as we head downtown through miserable Atlanta traffic late Friday afternoon, it starts raining. Hard.

Just before we arrive at Turner Field, the rain stops. A cool breeze is actually blowing instead of the humidity that enveloped as we left their apartment.

As I wheel him into the stadium, I feel almost the same as I did on that summer afternoon in 1971 when Dad walked me by the hand into the stadium. I feel like everybody’s watching us. And I feel an intense pride.

We take our seats behind home plate. I ask him what he can see, and he says only silhouettes of the players. He can hear the crowd noise, but not the P.A. announcer’s lineups.

He asks how Scott Feldman, one of his favorites, is doing on rehab. When Michael Young comes to the plate he says, “he’s a helluva hitter isn’t he?” He asks how that “fella who left for Philadelphia is doing.” I say “Cliff Lee? They hardly think about him.”

I give him brief descriptions of plays, though a lot of time is spent in silence. He looks at a field he could see clearly 40 years ago. I look at my dad and see him as he was 40 years ago.

Tradition takes hold

He wants peanuts, just as he always does at the ballpark. I’m a little worried they will frustrate him. Does he have the manual dexterity to crack them? Does he have the vision to separate shell from nut? Are they too salty for somebody whose body retains fluid like a sponge?

I get them anyway. He shells and pops them into his mouth like a pro. Nelson Cruz doubles to give the Rangers the lead.

“Cruz,” he says, “he’s a pretty fair hitter, isn’t he?”



He goes back to popping peanuts. I go back to my brief descriptions of plays, leaning in ever closer so he can hear. An inning later, I instinctively lay my head on his shoulder, my arm wrapped around his shoulder. He is still popping peanuts.

By the fifth inning, Dad is checking his audible watch. When the inning is over, I ask him if he’s ready to go.

“Yes,” he says. “I think so.”

On the way out, I notice a photo collage of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium’s history. We stroll by it. The first photo is an aerial shot of the stadium and tiny specks are crawling along the plaza toward the stadium. That image of us walking to the stadium for the first time flashes through my mind vividly all over again. Now, however, it is joined by a new one: Dad and I, together at his last game.

I wheel him to the car. We listen to a couple of innings on the way back to the apartment.

I call mom to let her know we are heading back.

“How’s he feel?” she says.

I repeat the question to my dad.

“A, number one,” he shouts.

Mom and I laugh.

I take him home and hug and kiss them both.

“Son,” he says, “thank you for taking me to the game.”

No, Dad. Thank you.

Hate to keep Harping on the Granderson Trade, but...

Most HR's in the majors in the last 18 months?
21 this year?
You see his RBI/almost HR this afternoon against the cubs?


Our boys are hot and Cleveland is stgruggling. Two out of three would be nice, A clean sweep would be even nicer. What do we do with Maggs? Can not afford to bat him sixth with what he is being paid. Sports talk radio guys were arguing about trading him - however does he have any value left with that salary? Other than Rayburn, everyone is doing well. What will happen when Inge recovers from mono - he needs to get hot in a hurry.

More Clues in "Name that Tiger"

A few friends who can't seem to hack their way into "At the Corner" have e-mailed me guesses, but none succeeded, so here are a few more clues:

He was a starting pitcher in the 1930's known for his "Submarine Ball" or screwball; nobody was quite sure if he threw a screwball or was a screwball. Moot point I guess.

Our First Place detroit Tigers

What an awesome game. Knowing that the Indians lost certainly added a little incentive. Lucky enough to have been there tonight. Everyone was hot, except for Rayburn -- I thought he was our every day second baseman? Keep it up boys



Did you ever think you would root for the Yanks?

Cleveland is playing the Yanks this weekend. I hate the Stankees, but I sam rooting for them to kick the crap of of the Indians. Only one game out of first. Can you feel thhe love? The last time I uttered that was to all of the guests at my daughter's wedding.

Jim Northrup

Just heard that Jim Northrup has died at 71. One brief account I read said that he recently had enetered a facility for Alzheimer patients. He was a good guy and one of the heroes of 1968. bAs History wore on, his stst looked more impressive. I remember him for hitting grand slams, but in reality he probably didn't hit too many. Was so likeable and then he went on to be a broadcaster. God Bless #5

I can smell first place

I know I know - most of you think our Tigers are not much better than a .500 ball clube, but after last night's impressive victory we are only 1 1/2 game behind the Indians. I am definatley a "homie" Boesch was incredible last night. When the Tigs were ahead 7-2 I looked at "baby" Matthew and said that 7 runs would not be enough tonight, how right I was. To gain first place and stay there we will need stronger pitching. It is working for now and "I'm so excited!!"

Ray Oyler and Ryan Rayburn

Both struggled offensively - but there is a place for them. Did Oyler even his weight? Through the canny magerial ability of Mayo Smith there was a place for Oyler on that 68 roster. And Smith figured how to get our hero - Al Kaline - into his only world series.
Now what sghould Leyland do with Rayburn?

No funeral rites for Sparky

The Other Side Of Sparky Anderson
Written by: Steve Henson (The Post Game
There was no funeral for Sparky Anderson when he died last November. No memorial service, either. No one from the legendary baseball manager's family attended the opening day ceremonies in his honor in Cincinnati or Detroit. And no one named Anderson showed up at an awards dinner for him last week in Los Angeles.

Many in baseball are perplexed by his dying wish that his passing go without traditional observance. Understanding the reason begins with recognizing that Sparky Anderson and George Anderson -- Sparky's given name -- were vastly different sides of the same person. George administered last rites to Sparky years ago.

When he and his wife visited a dying friend in a hospital, a priest dropped in to comfort the friend but saw the familiar face sitting across the room and excitedly began talking baseball. George was mortified. He'd been a devout Catholic his entire life, often rising at daybreak to attend Mass. But he decided then and there: no church service when he passed.

George was committed to putting his family first. Sparky was folksy and friendly and a diamond icon as manager of the Reds from 1970 to 1978 and Tigers from 1979 to 1995, but at a cost familiar to many who make baseball a career. He was immersed in the season nine months a year and unable to say no to charity organizers, writers, friends and former players the other three.

Sometimes nothing was left by the time he got home, sometimes he barely recognized who his children had become and they could barely stand who he'd become. But once he took off the uniform for the last time and left the broadcast booth for good, he morphed back into George. He found sturdy common ground with his two sons and daughter, and relished time with his grandchildren, nephews and nieces. As he lay dying Nov. 4, 2010, even through the thick haze of dementia, he knew who he wanted to be in death.

He'd go as George Anderson.


The intent of the Rod Dedeaux Award dinner last week was noble, and giving the honor to Anderson wasn't contrived: The late Dedeaux -- who won 11 national titles as USC baseball coach -- had been Sparky's childhood mentor, and proceeds went to the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy. But the event confirmed that George made the right decision for his family.

Joe Morgan, Tom Seaver, Doug Harvey, Vin Scully and others reminisced about Sparky, the nickname George took on as a hot-tempered minor league manager in the 1960s and his persona until he retired as one of the most successful big league skippers of all time.

A funeral and memorial would have included a parade of well-meaning baseball people paying homage to Sparky -- the Dedeaux Award dinner by a factor of 10. They would have thought they were doing the right thing. They wouldn't have known better. It would have been miserable for George's wife of 57 years, Carol, and the kids.

George's final days were all about family. By his side was his oldest son, Lee, whose long hair and rebelliousness at a time his conservative father enforced strict grooming rules on the Reds in the 1970s was described in Joe Posnanski's excellent book The Machine.

Lee Anderson, a successful concrete contractor and man of integrity, still wears his hair beyond shoulder length at age 52. George not only learned to accept it, he came to love it dearly because his son's locks were the same gleaming blast of premature white as his own.


My insight into the Andersons comes from being their neighbors in Thousand Oaks, Calif. since the 1960s. I played on a 12-year-old team with Lee. My mom and Carol Anderson sold baked goods together to raise money for the Little League. Later I coached Lee's younger brother, Albert, and their cousin Mike Sheehan, who has remained a lifelong friend. I observed George and I observed Sparky. Then I observed George again.

Throughout our 40-year acquaintance I addressed him only as Mr. Anderson. I've been a sportswriter my entire career and never wrote a story about him until now. I didn't tell him what I did for a living; why complicate a perfectly good friendship with that sort of information? To Mr. Anderson, I was the local guy he called Stevie who coached teenagers year after year as a volunteer. That was something he could respect.

After the infrequent seasons when his team didn't make the playoffs, he would help out with our fall league. He'd show up in paint-splotched pants, hit mile-high fungoes and give the kids funny nicknames. I'd recklessly wave a runner around second while basecoaching, and after the inning he'd shake his head and say, "Never make the third out of an inning at third base, Stevie. Never."

The kids would pile into his wood-paneled station wagon and we'd drive to the farm communities of Oxnard and Fillmore for games. Opposing teams would see us approach the field and blink hard: The man with the white hair was instantly recognizable, and the kids would form a single-file line to have him autograph their gloves before we'd play ball.

Days like that blurred the line between George and Sparky. He was there for the love of his son and a love of the game. Nobody called him Captain Hook and nobody expected him to run away with the pennant. Baseball can be a simple pleasure, and Mr. Anderson enjoyed reminding himself of that out of the spotlight in Thousand Oaks.


Home openers at Detroit and Cincinnati this season were odes to both cities' most successful manager. The Tigers raised a flag with his name on it at Comerica Park and will retire his No. 11 on June 26. The Reds had retired his No. 10 in 2005. Both teams are wearing patches on their jerseys that say "Sparky."

All are fitting nods to a manager whose 2,194 victories ranks sixth all-time. While he was alive, the ceremony Anderson most cherished besides his Hall-of-Fame induction came Jan. 29, 2006, at a small private school a block from his home. California Lutheran University christened its new baseball stadium the George "Sparky" Anderson field. It was appropriate because his 40-plus year relationship with the school was an effective blend of George and Sparky.

George took brisk early morning walks around the university track with matronly school secretaries and nerdy professors. Sparky held a celebrity golf tournament each year that raised money for the baseball program.

George occasionally sat quietly in the corner of the dugout during practice, and he'd pull aside marginally talented Division III players and whisper sage advice. Sparky would show up at a Cal Lutheran game in February before heading to spring training and sign autographs until the sun dropped behind the Santa Monica Mountains.


Dennis Gilbert, a Chicago White Sox executive and former superagent to Barry Bonds and others, surveyed the well-heeled throng sipping cocktails before taking their seats at the Dedeaux Award dinner. He was disappointed no one from Anderson's family had come, but he understood.

"Sparky felt uncomfortable at places like this," Gilbert said. "He'd say, 'I don't want to be a greenfly.' "

That would have been George talking. Ridding his backyard garden of those plant-sucking greenflies, or aphids, was a challenge he took seriously. Sparky would have had the Dedeaux Award crowd eating out of his hand; George would have avoided it with a polite wave of the same hand.

Sparky was an entertaining speaker, unsophisticated yet insightful, ungrammatical yet pointed. He was best off-script, talking not about baseball but about life. It was then that George's sensibility sneaked into the message.

A son of Lance Parrish, who caught for the Tigers under Anderson from 1979 through 1986, played at Biola University, another small private Southern California school. Anderson came to the team's banquet at Parrish's invitation a few years ago and the coach asked him if he'd say a few words.

"He jumped at the opportunity, which kind of surprised me because he wasn't asked to do it in advance," Parrish told The Sporting News. "He poured his heart out to everybody. He talked about the importance of being a good person and caring about people and doing the right thing.

"I don't think he talked about baseball one sentence, but he let everybody know what was on his heart. It was just a great night."

One of Anderson's favorite pieces of wisdom was simply to be nice. "It doesn't cost a nickel to be nice to people," he'd say. "It's something you can give away for free and it means more than a million dollars."

Since his death, that's all anyone wanted to express. His former players and friends needed a place and time to say nice things about a man they admired: the great manager Sparky Anderson. A few were able to do so thanks to the Dedeaux family, who knew well the story of the big-eared 14-year-old kid in 1948 that lived a block from the USC campus asking Dedeaux if he could serve as the Trojans' bat boy.

Dedeaux called him what his mother called him: Georgie. Along the way he became Sparky, an iconic figure who belonged to baseball first and family second. He retired at 61, young for a manager, giving him ample time to adjust his priorities.

The Andersons didn't need a funeral or a memorial service to convey any of that. Their strength was ensuring that Sparky went quietly. George Anderson rests in peace.