Tuesday, November 25, 2014

NICKNAMES OF THE '70'S #14: "CAPTAIN HOOK" SPARKY ANDERSON

"Captain Hook".
A great nickname for a GREAT Hall of Fame manager, Sparky Anderson, he of the "Big Red Machine" Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers.
So let's give him the next slot in my "Nicknames of the 70's" thread shall we?
Take a look:


I used a 1975 template and a fantastic photo of Anderson with his Hall of Fame catcher, Johnny Bench after (what else?), waiting for a relief pitcher!
It would have been too easy to use some portrait shot of him, but this photo just seemed "right", even WITH his back to the camera.
I used the 1975 template since he was at the height of his league domination with the Reds and his juggernaut lineup: Bench, Pete Rose, Tony Perez, Joe Morgan, Ken Griffey, George Foster et al. 
But the nickname, of course, comes from the fact that Sparky was really one of the first managers to rely heavily on his bullpen.
When you look at the "Big Red Machine" teams of the mid-70's you find solid Major League starters like Don Gullet, Gary Nolan, Jack Billingham, etc.
But there was never a true "ace", which was actually rather abundant in the Majors during the decade.
However, the Reds DID have solid guys out of the pen like Tom Hall, Rawly Eastwick, Pedro Borbon, Clay carroll and Will McEnaney.
These were guys that could come in at any time during the game and pitch as long as Sparky needed them to.
So while so many other teams during the decade had guys completing 20 or more of their starts every season, the Reds didn't even have one of their starters complete 10 or more in either of their World Champion years.
But how can you argue with success, right?
And Anderson found a lot of success in his 26-year managing career!
Three world titles (the third coming in 1984 with the Tigers), seven first place finishes, two more pennants (1970 and 1972), and 2194 career victories.
He also won two Manager of the Year Awards, in 1984 and 1987 (the award was instituted in 1983, or he almost assuredly would have won a couple with Cincinnati), and guided five All-Star teams (four in the N.L., one in the A.L.).
Just a classic manager who managed some classic teams!
It's amazing to think that when he took over the Reds in 1970, he was only 36 years of age! It's easy to remember him like the grandfatherly figure he was the last part of his career.
Sparky Anderson, "Captain Hook", a Hall of Famer inducted into Cooperstown in 2000 by the Veteran's Committee.
Great guy…

5 comments:

  1. WOW...friggin' awesome card Gio. Love the colors...love the photo. It's a great one. Love and miss Sparky. He always made you feel like we were never out of it even if the Reds were ten games out. Unfortunately his success with the relief specialists paved the way towards removing the complete game from baseball. The era of workhorse pitchers on every staff is gone.

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  2. Sparky became "Captain Hook" because of all the arm troubles the Reds had his first season (1970) that ultimately sent them to the World Series short-handed on the mound. Several starters were either suffering from tired/sore arms or were out completely by October. His strong reliance on the bullpen after that was an attempt to keep this from happening again to his starting staff and it mostly worked (Gary Nolan being the one exception). I remember Don Gullett complaining about being yanked too early but when he left the Reds after '76 and went to the Yankees he proceeded to have arm troubles by the end of the season probably due to pitching so much; something he'd been protected from by Sparky. On a side note, Sparky was one of the most sincere and polite individuals ever to be part of the game. A truly sweet man.

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  3. Anderson may have been the only person to refer to Bench as "John" instead of "Johnny".

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  4. And Pete was "Peter Edward". Read the book called The Machine by Joe Podnanski. Great insight to Sparky and those Reds teams of the early-to-mid 70's.

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