Uniform #11 Gets Retired



On a sunny Sunday at Comerica Park, the extended baseball family of the Detroit Tiger’s got together to honor Sparky Anderson one more time.  It was before the Arizona Diamondbacks game and his # 11 jersey was retired.  The celebration included the unveiling of his name and number on the outfield wall.  


Dave Dombrowski, President and CEO of the Detroit Tiger’s thanks Alan Trammell for his participation in the Sparky Anderson celebration at Comerica Park.

 Photo by Mike Alberts, Rolco Sports Network 


General Manager Dave Dombrowski made a special point to thank Alan Trammell and Kurt Gibson for their attendance but spectators didn’t understand why the two of them remained in the visitor’s dugout during the ceremony.  Team owner Mike Ilitch and Frank Tanana had just finished embracing Trammell and Gibson.  Gibson had gotten a standing ovation from the crowd when his name was announced during the festivities.  It was reported that because they were in Diamondback uniforms that they didn’t want to take away from the spirit of the ‘Old English D’ logo on the field.    

 Anderson was a great supporter of the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame.  He had once said, “Anyone that has Stan Musial and Tom Paciorek in their tank, well I’m all in.”  Musial was the first to be enshrined in 1973 and Paciorek was elected in 1992.    


Trammell (1998) and Tanana (1996) are also inductees in the NPASHF.  Trammel, a San Diego native son is now the Arizona bench coach and was visibly excited when he heard that his teammate Lou Whitaker was in attendance for the ceremony.  “We’re forever linked,” Trammell said regarding his longtime second base partner. “It’s always great seeing him.  It just proves the influence that Sparky had on so many of us, that we understand the importance of coming together for an occasion such as this.”  This was the first time Whitaker had been to Comerica in its 11 year history.

Longtime friend and former Tigers coach Dick Tracewski said, “I didn’t know he (Whitaker) was going to be here.  All of a sudden I go into one of the suites (on Saturday), and he’s there.  It was nice to see him.”

In 1992 to help promote the NPASHF, Anderson and Raymond Rolak donated their energies toward an award winning Public Service Announcement for television broadcast.  Anderson was known for fracturing the English language so in the TV industry he was known as ‘One Take Sparky’.  Producers got to know that even though Anderson was experienced in broadcasting, it would never get any better than the first take.  Anderson, who passed away in November of 2010 at the age of 76, was known for his congeniality, courtesy and generosity regarding civic and charity events. 


Another unofficial ambassador of the NPASHF is Sparky’s biographer and spokesperson, Dan Ewald.  Ewald had poignant and sensitive remarks regarding Sparky during the pre-game ceremony.


Anderson was inducted into the National Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York in 2000.  Bill Haase, a great friend, represented the storied institution.  It was noted that Anderson first visited Detroit because of baseball.  He was the 18 year old shortstop and member of the American Legion national baseball champions, Los Angeles Post-715.  They won it all in 1951 at Briggs Stadium.


Anderson managed the Tigers for 17 years from 1979-1995.  In 1984 they won the World Series.  Before that, he had led the Cincinnati Red’s to two World Series Championships in the National League.  He had the nickname ‘Captain Hook’ for removing pitchers quickly when they got in crucial situations. 


His three children were present and they all reminisced that Anderson was respected for his off-field manner.  Daughter Shirley Englebrecht said, “He was a gentleman who taught us the right way to treat people.”  Sons Lee and Albert nodded in agreement.  Lee added smiling, “From now on, Dad had a wish to be known as George Anderson.  Sparky was his baseball name.”


The large crowd at Comerica was also fueled by the annual Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts pre-game parade.  Hawaii based motion picture director Brian Kohne and Rolak along with Detroit News sports columnist Bob Wojnowski were at the home dugout talking to Tigers manager Jim Leyland before the game.  Kohne was in town to be honored as part of the Detroit-Windsor International Film Festival at Wayne State.  One of the group remarked that someone should make a movie about this.  “Anything involving Sparky would have a happy ending, that’s for sure,” said Kohne.  “It is fitting that Sparky will have a permanent marker at a Detroit baseball site.  This is a celebration.”    

  Courtesy of www.mypolishtimes.com  and  www.getajobthemovie.com