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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Post # 151 - My Follow-up With Ron Colangelo Regarding # 11 - 11/4/2010

Last year, I wrote a note to Mr. Ilitch, suggesting that he consider retiring Sparky Anderson's # 11.  Behind the scenes, their relationship was very strained.  I say "no excuse."

Ron Colangelo responded, stating that there are no plans, yada yada.  I warned him--if Sparky dies, it's going to look really bad to a loyal fan base.   Sparky passed away last week, and much of the grieving has transformed to anger toward the Illitches.

Below is my "I told you so."
Subject: RE: Sparky Anderson
Date: Thu, 4 Nov 2010 21:48:29 -0400

Dear Mr. Colangelo,

Dick Howser, Whitey Herzog, Earl Weaver, Danny Murtaugh.  Managers with weaker resumes, whose organizations recognized them by retiring their numbers.  And justifiably so.

With the unfortunate news of Sparky Anderson's death, a city is mourning. 

With all of the grieving, the discussion turned to the Tiger Organization.  I don't claim to be a prophet.  Anyone could have seen it coming.   On two radio stations today, for much of the day, the discussion revolved around the Tiger outfield.  Not "which free agent can Dave sign?".  The discussion revolved around statues and numbers, and missed opportunities.  Fans and broadcasters who normally argue about Michigan/Michigan State, Osgood, and Inge, were unified.  Anderson's number should be on that wall.  And it should have happened while he was alive.

I told you so.

I'm no sportswriter.  I'm a fan.  An objective fan who understands that things happen behind the scenes.  Maybe there was a disagreement about managing scabs, or about choosing the wrong baseball cap for a stupid plaque.   For a stupid plaque in a farcical wing of a nice museum that seems to pick inductees as much based on how many pinstripes are in their uniform as on performance. 

Fans don't care that Sparky refused to coach scabs.  I actually respect that--I refused to watch it.  Sensible fans understand that Sparky had to make a decision about his plaque.  Get over it.  It all seems petty now.  Fans see no statue or number out there in left field.  Fans are left to draw their own conclusion.  Fans are upset.

In your note below, you mention that Sparky has been part of some celebrations along with other Tigers in the past.  No offense to these guys, but apparently, he's in the same league as Ron LeFlore, and Denny McClain.  I think we can all agree that Sparky deserved a little bit more than the average Tiger.

This makes Mr. Ilitch look really bad.  It's really a shame that you couldn't honor him the way he deserved, before he died.  Whatever the underlying reasons, it's a real shame. 

This man gave a lot back to the community.  The Tiger organization should be embarrassed.


Jerry Herman

PS - The Reds retired his number five years ago.  I bet they feel good about that decision.

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