I had a real problem today. I was supposed to go to a big dinner with a lot of baseball executives in Miami, and of course I had a dental emergency. I looked all around Miami for a good dentist, but it was 3:30 and they had all left for the day.
Out of nowhere I get a call from Dr. Mereos. He told me that although he was out for the day that his lovely and wonderful assistant, Norma, would be waiting for me in their office.
When I got there Norma was wonderful. She sat me down, took a look at the problem, and assured me that I had nothing to worry about and that she would take care of me.
She did an outstanding job!
She fixed me up and got me off to my dinner.
I will be forever grateful to Norma and Dr. Mereos, and they know that when the Dodgers come to Miami to play the Marlins they will be there to watch the games.
Thank you Norma. Thank you Dr. Mereos.
Al asked me to say a few words about him at the dinner, which I was happy to do.
I told this story:
In 1969 I was managing the Spokane Indians of the Pacific Coast League. We played against the Hawaii Islanders, and in those days when you played I Hawaii you would play a seven game series with a double-header on Sunday.
While there I called Al Campanis, our GM, to talk about my players. During the conversation I said that if he was ever looking for an outstanding radio play-by-play man I had just the man. His name was Al Michaels and he is just starting out in the business.
Al asked me how I knew he was so good, and I told him that I had just been thrown out of the last four games and have been listening to his calls on the radio all week!
All kidding aside, Al has had an outstanding career. He is a class man, and I am so proud of al he has accomplished.
In 1980 Al asked the world if we believe in miracles.
I’m not sure if you can describe his life and career as a miracle, but I certainly believe in Al Michaels.
Sparky Anderson will remembered by many people in many different ways. To some he will be remembered as one of baseball’s best ambassadors. To some he will be remembered as a loyal and giving friend. To some he will be remembered as a devoted family man. To some he will be remembered as scrappy second baseman. To some he will be remembered as an outstanding manager.
I have the privilege of remembering him as all of those.
It’s easy to remember him in the blue and orange of the Detroit Tigers winning the World Series in 1984. It’s easy to remember him in the bright Red of the Cincinnati Reds winning in 1975 and again in ’76.
But what a lot of people don’t know is that he started his career in baseball in Dodger Blue. I met Sparky at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida way back in 1949, “50, “51; those years. He was an infielder and I was a pitcher. We developed a wonderful friendship and ended up playing together both in the Pacific Coast League for the Los Angeles Angels and in the International League for the Montreal Royals (both were triple-A Dodger farm teams).
As a player, it is fair to say that he was on overachiever. He made it to the big leagues, but not because of his powerful bat, but because of his desire and will and heart. He just wanted it so bad.
When he became a manager, he started in the low minor leagues. He worked his way up to the big leagues in that pursuit too, and went on to lead the Reds to two World Series championships, and the Detroit Tigers to a Championship. He was the first manager in the history of baseball to win a World Series in both leagues.
When I became the manager of the Dodgers, Sparky and I had been friends for a long time. But I told him that our friendship had to end because we were going to go after the Reds with everything we had, and I knew he was going to have his team go after us with all the drive and will and heart that he played with.
We developed an outstanding rivalry in those years, as when we would come into Cincinnati the stands would be packed just to watch BP.
When I retired I was elected into Baseball’s Hall of Fame right away. Due to my age I didn’t have to wait five years. Sparky told me that he was proud of me, and that he would definitely be in Cooperstown for my induction. A few years later, when I heard the news of his election to the Hall I told him the same thing.
It brought back a memory. In 1977 Sparky was the manager of the National League All Star team. He asked me and Danny Ozark to be on his coaching staff. There we were for the introductions and 60,000 fans were roaring. Sparky, Danny who played with us in the Dodger system, and I looked at each other in awe. Sparky said to us, “Would you have ever imagined that we would be together, after all these years, in the All Star Game together?”
We all looked at each other with a laugh at that because as just minor leaguers together, as just kids, as just friends, that was an impossible thought.
Looking back on that today, it really was an impossible thought, but I will be forever thankful that we made it come true together.
Rest in Peace, Sparky.
Rest in Peace, Clyde King.
For those of you who didn’t know Clyde, or never even heard of him, he was a lifelong baseball man. He held many important positions through our beloved game. But I will remember him best as a teammate and friend.
I pitched with Clyde in Montreal, for the Montreal Royals, and in Brooklyn for the Dodgers. He was a right-handed pitcher that for some reason or another always felt like he had a slight edge on whichever hitter he was facing.
Not only was he great on the field though, he was an outstanding family man, and a close and trusted friend.
Clyde was a disciple of the great Branch Rickey, which meant he knew the game of baseball better than most. He combined that knowledge with his natural talents and pitched with all the drive and desire within his heart.
And he put his heart into every position he held in the game because he respected the game and he loved the game.
The last time I saw Clyde was in Washington D.C. as were guests of the President. He was having a tee-ball game on the lawn of the White House. I was there as a base coach and Clyde was there too.
Although he didn’t look as good as I hoped, he had was still on a ball field doing what he loved to do; baseball.
Today I am being inducted into the Chattanooga Baseball Hall of Fame. Any time you are inducted it is an honor, and this induction will mark my 17th Hall of Fame. I am especially honored to be inducted tonight with Cal Ermer. Cal was an infielder, and later became the manager of the Washington Senators. When they moved ot Minnesota he moved with them and managed there for many years.
Cal and I are the first people to be inducted here in Chattanooga, which is a special distinction as well. I was also the first person to be inducted into the Albuquerque Baseball Hall of Fame. Here is a list of all 17 Halls:
National Baseball Hall of Fame (1997)
Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame (2006)
Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame (2006)
Italian American Sports Hall of Fame (1989)
California Sports Hall of Fame (2006)
Montgomery County Coaches Hall of Fame (2002)
South Atlantic League Hall of Fame (2001)
Albuquerque Baseball Hall of Fame (2007)
Louisiana Italian American Hall of Fame (1985)
Cleveland Italian American Hall of Fame
Rhode Island Italian American Hall of Fame
Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame (2009)
Inland Empire 66ers Hall of Fame (2009)
Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame (2010)
Brooklyn Professional Baseball Hall of Fame (2009)
Ogden Professional Baseball Hall of Fame (2009)
My travels have taken me to Chattanooga, home of our double-A team, the Chattanooga Lookouts. It is an outstanding town, as the people here are courteous and hospitable. In fact, if you are ever here, amke sure you eat at the Blue Plate. It is right around the corner from AT&T Stadium where the Lookouts play, bt more importanly, the food is delicious.
When you go in, ask for Rob Gentry, and tell him Tommy sent you.
And make sure you have the pancake!
On this date, in 1997, I was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. It was something that I never thought possible. Baseball has been played for well over 100 years, and back in ’97 there were only 13 managers in the Hall of Fame. Ted Williams called me to let me know that I was being inducted, and I will never forget what he said, “I thouht I was the only guy here who loved you, but I was wrong, everybody here loves you.”
Since being inducted I have tried my best to represent the Hall of Fame to the highest degree of class, dignity and character. Many of my heroes are enshrined there, and I love making the annual trip. If you are a baseball lover you really owe it to yourself to go to the museum. Believe me, it’s worth it.
On July 29, 1996, I officially announced my retirement as Manager of the Dodgers. It was a tough decision because I loved every second of my time in the dugout, but it was the right one.
There was a tremendous outpoor of love towards me, which I will always appreicate. Here is a letter that Kirk Gibson wrote to me shortly after the announcement:
I would like to thank Marshall Katz, Police Chief of Albuquerque, and the fine men and women of the Albuquerque Police Department for all they do.
I was in Albuquerque for Tommy Lasorda bobblehead night. It was a lot of fun, as the Albuquerque Isotopes packed in close to 12,000 fans on the big night. While I was there, the Isotopes won both games I saw.
Monday was get-away day, and as I was dropped off at the curb of the airport two officers were there waiting for me. They helped me through check-in, and through security. Marshall, the chief, was also with me as I went through security, and was kind enough to escort me all the way to the gate.
When I got to the gate I saw that my Southwest flight was delayed by two and a half hours.
As John “T-Bone” Shelby used to say, Brutal!
Well that’s when the chief took over. He escorted me to the flight deck of the Albuquerque airport and went way out of his way to make me feel good. He even called Capo, a local Italian restaurant, and ordered two plates of pasta and meatballs for us.
The chief ended up staying with me until the flight was boarding. I appreciate all he did to make me feel good, and respect the work that he and his officers do to make Albuquerque safe.
Thank you, Marshall.