Monday, April 30, 2012

Book Review: Sparky and Me by Dan Ewald

The legendary Sparky Anderson was loved by fans of the Detroit Tigers during his 17-year tenure as manager of the club.  One of the great things about Mr. Anderson was that we always believed everything he told us, no matter how far fetched it may seem.  When he proclaimed that rookie pitcher Carl Willis would be the next Rollie Fingers and that Cuban defector Barbaro Garbey would be the next Roberto Clemente, we believed him.  Every year, when he'd make these outrageous predictions about young players, we trusted him.  They almost never came true, but we kept the faith.  As long as Sparky was in charge, we always felt that good things would happen.

Perhaps the reason we trusted Sparky so much was because he believed everything he said when he said it.  He was always able to see not only the potential of youth, but the good in everyone.  The players had faith in him too which is one of the reasons he had so much success as a manager.  They respected him for his knowledge of the game, but even more for the life lessons he taught them.  Former Tigers great and current Arizona Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said "Sparky cared about us as ball players, but more importantly as husbands and fathers and men.  Everything I do today, I owe to Sparky."

The person who knew Mr. Anderson better than anyone was long-time sports writer and Tigers Public Relations Director Dan Ewald.  Mr. Ewald talks about his friendship with Sparky in the soon to be released book Sparky and Me: My Friendship with Sparky Anderson and the Lessons He Shared About Baseball and Life.  The book is a series a stories which bring to light the charm, wit, wisdom and generosity of the immensely popular manager. 

If you are looking for a book about Anderson's career as a manager with lots of baseball stories, the book is not for you.  Although there are some baseball stories mixed in, it was not intended to be a book about baseball.    The book is more about Sparky as a person as told by Mr. Ewald, a wonderful story teller who makes you feel as if you are right there with them.  

A recurring theme is Anderson's kindness, not only to his peers and to his players, but to everyone whether it be fans, clubhouse attendants, golf course grounds keepers or supermarket cashiers.  Sparky loved people and was interested in everything they had to say.  His humanity, humility and generosity shines through in chapter after chapter.    

The book is about the relationship between two good friends, but the life lessons conveyed in the stories are for you.  Through Ewald, Sparky teaches us how to talk to people and treat them the right away.  You come away with the feeling that the world would be a better place if we could all be like Sparky.

As mentioned above, this is not really a baseball book.  However, If you want to learn more about Sparky, the man, I recommend this book.  If you were a big fan of Sparky as I was, then you should enjoy it.

Sparky and Me will be released on May 8, 2012.  You can pre-order it now at

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