On the day the Detroit Tigers retired Sparky Anderson’s number, former pitcher Milt Wilcox reflected on how the Hall of Fame manager might have felt if he’d been alive to see the ceremony.
“He wouldn’t want all of the limelight and stuff like that – which he never did want – but he’s such a great guy, and he deserves everything that they’re showering on him now,” Wilcox said. “More so than just being a baseball manager, he was just a great guy. I think that’s what most of the players realized about him – yeah, he was a good manager, maybe even a great manager, but he was a great person.”
The Tigers retired Anderson’s No. 11 before Sunday’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks in a celebration that included a video tribute and appearances by family members. Anderson, who died last November, managed Detroit to the World Series title in 1984.
Wilcox was one of several members of that team on hand Sunday, including Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson and Arizona bench coach Alan Trammell.
Lou Whitaker, the second baseman who played with Trammell as part of one of baseball’s greatest double play combinations, was also at Comerica Park.
The Tigers have taken other steps to honor Anderson this season. A flag with his name on it flies beyond the outfield fence, and the team has been wearing patches with his name. Sunday’s gesture was the most anticipated.
“I couldn’t miss this,” said former outfielder Larry Herndon, now the batting coach for the Tigers’ Class A Lakeland team. “I had to be here, because I had said to some of the other guys, for me, Sparky was a life changer. I had to be here, just because … without him, I wouldn’t be able to be here. It’s just a great day in that sense, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”
Anderson won the World Series twice with Cincinnati before managing the Tigers from 1979-1995.
After a 5-0 loss to Ricky Romero and the Toronto Blue Jays, St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said third baseman David Freese and utilityman Nick Punto could be back for the upcoming six-game trip. La Russa said it would be general manager John Mozeliak’s call when to activate Freese, out with a broken left hand since May 2, and Punto, sidelined by a right forearm strain since May 18. No doubt, there’s urgency considering the Cardinals have lost 12 of 15.
Danks to DL
White Sox left-hander John Danks has been placed on the disabled list after leaving his start against the Washington Nationals with a strained right oblique muscle.
The White Sox called up left-hander Hector Santiago from Double-A Birmingham.