Tuesday, April 3, 2018

#506 Sparky Anderson and Art Howe

About the Front: Funny, that doesn't look like Philip Seymour Hoffman on the right.
About the Back: Sparky Anderson is listed as a former second baseman, but what Topps doesn't tell you is that he played one (and only one) full season in the big leagues. In 1959, he earned a starting role for the cellar-dwelling Phillies, after six years in the talent-rich Dodgers organization. The 25-year-old batted a paltry .218/.282/.249 (43 OPS+) with no home runs and 34 RBI, and never got a second look.

Triple Play:

1. After just five years as a minor league manager and an additional season as a major league coach, Anderson was hired at age 35 to manage the Reds in 1970. In nine years in Cincinnati, Sparky's teams won five National League West titles, four NL pennants, and back-to-back World Series in 1975 and 1976. After the Reds fired him in 1978, he moved on to Detroit and helped build another winner. The Tigers were World Champions in 1984 and added an AL East crown in 1987. Anderson retired after the 1995 season, his 26th as an MLB manager, with 2,194 wins and 1,834 losses (.545 winning percentage). He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000, and passed away at age 76 in 2010.

2. Art Howe spent parts of 11 seasons (1974-1982, 1984-1985) as an active MLB player, and was primarily a corner infielder with the Astros. He batted .260/.329/.379 (102 OPS+) with 43 home runs and 293 RBI.

3. Howe managed for 14 seasons with the Astros (1989-1993), Athletics (1996-2002), and Mets (2003-2004). He had a record of 1,129-1,137 (.498), and as I alluded to earlier, he's now best known as the manager of the "Moneyball"-era A's. He led that low-payroll Oakland team to three straight postseasons, but lost in the Division Series each time.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I always thought that Sparky Anderson was ancient. He was actually 58 when this photo was taken!

On This Date in 1993: April 3. The NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four takes place. Michigan outlasts Kentucky in overtime, 81-78. Chris Webber leads all scorers with 27 points, and Jamal Mashburn is the top UK scorer with 26. In the other semifinal, North Carolina beats Kansas, 78-68, with Donald Williams scoring 25 for the Tar Heels and Adonis Jordan and Rex Walters each tallying 19 for the Jayhawks.