CINCINNATI -- Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson, who died Thursday at the age of 76, had the gift of gab while often stretching the English language in the process.
One of the greatest ever to run a game from the dugout, Anderson certainly also had a way with words.
"If I ever find a pitcher who has heat, a good curve and a slider, I might seriously consider marrying him, or at least proposing," Anderson once joked.
Always modest and comfortable with people of all backgrounds, Anderson had a reputation as a media darling because he loved to talk. Media sessions often produced some priceless quotes, a compilation that could come close to rivaling those of Casey Stengel or Yogi Berra.
Anderson, incidentally, knew Stengel before his great Yankees years. A young George Anderson was a batboy at the University of Southern California, coached by Rod Dedeaux -- a Stengel friend. A Minor League skipper, Stengel often visited the campus and regaled with stories.
"Casey knew his baseball," Anderson said. "He only made it look like he was fooling around. He knew every move that was ever invented and some that we haven't even caught on to yet."
Anderson, himself, was never college educated however.
"I only had a high school education, and believe me, I had to cheat to get that," Anderson said.
Sparky's wife, Carol, once encouraged him to clean up his English with grammar classes, but she did not find a willing student.
"I told her it ain't gonna help me," Anderson said. "Or should I say, 'It ain't gonna help me none?'"
No sheepskin was needed for Anderson to show his intellect about the game of baseball. Like Stengel, he knew the game inside and out but was often humble about his role in the making of great teams like the Reds of the 1970s, and later, the Tigers.
"The players make the manager, it's never the other way," Anderson was quoted. He also once said this: "I don't believe a manager ever won a pennant. Casey Stengel won all those pennants with the Yankees. How many did he win with the Boston Braves and Mets? I've never seen a team win a pennant without players. I think the only thing the manager has to do is keep things within certain boundaries."
Some of Anderson's best quotes offered truisms that anyone could use in life.
"People who live in the past generally are afraid to compete in the present," he once said. "I've got my faults, but living in the past is not one of them. There's no future in it."
Many of Anderson's quips were often delivered bluntly. Like these:
"I've changed my mind about [the designated hitter] -- instead of being bad, it stinks."
"If I hear Bowie Kuhn say just once more he's doing something for the betterment of baseball, I'm going to throw up."
"A baseball manager is a necessary evil."
"I don't want to embarrass any other catcher by comparing him to Johnny Bench."
"It's a terrible thing to have to tell your fans, who have waited like Detroit's have, that their team won't win it this year. But it's better than lying to them."
"Problem with [John] Wockenfuss getting on base is that it takes three doubles to score him."
"Players have two things to do. Play and keep their mouths shut."
Anderson could have a take on just about anything.
Such as traveling:
"I don't know why the players make such a big fuss about sitting in the first-class section of the plane. Does that mean they'll get there faster?"
On memories and legacies:
"The great thing about baseball is when you're done, you'll only tell your grandchildren the good things. If they ask me about 1989, I'll tell them I had amnesia."
On Willie Stargell in 1971:
"He's such a big strong guy he should love that porch. He's got power enough to hit home runs in any park, including Yellowstone."
On Tom Seaver:
"My idea of managing is giving the ball to Tom Seaver and sitting down and watching him work."
On business and fashion:
"Me carrying a briefcase is like a hotdog wearing earrings."
But perhaps most of all, Anderson's love and enthusiasm for the game came across with everything he said and did.
"I can't believe they pay us to play baseball -- something we did for free as kids," he said.