Sparky proud of South Dakota roots

 George “Sparky” Anderson, who won three World Series crowns while managing the Cincinnati Red and Detroit Tigers, died Thursday at his home in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

His family listed complications from dementia as the cause of death.

Anderson, who was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000 and the South Dakota Hall of Fame in 2007, was 76.

While he was a nationally known figure for 40 years, Anderson was always proud of his South Dakota roots. He was born in Bridgewater and lived in the small McCook County town until he was 9, when his family moved to California.

Anderson’s friend and biographer, Dan Ewald, the longtime public relations director for the Tigers, fielded an e-mail request for an interview with Anderson last month.

Ewald, who knew Anderson for about 35 years, said the veteran baseball manager would be unable to give the interview and offered these comments:

“Sparky, indeed, has a soft spot for his home state. However, conditions now exist that do not permit Sparky from accommodating interviews. Thanks for your understanding.”

In the biography “Sparky!” which was written by Anderson and Ewald, the colorful manager spoke of his boyhood in Bridgewater.

“I remember more about South Dakota than any part of my life. I remember all the sights, the sounds, the smells the people,” they wrote in the chapter “Growing Up.” “Maybe I remember Bridgewater so well because I was so happy. It wasn’t till managing took its place that I was ever so happy again.”

We will have a lot more on baseball legend Sparky Anderson in Friday’s paper. Please share your memories of him with all of us.