Alan Trammell last talked to Sparky Anderson at the All-Star break. Whenever Trammell was in Los Angeles, which he was with the Cubs at midseason this year, he would give his former manager a call.
Anderson would always tease Trammell that he didn't have to call, that he knew how busy his former shortstop was. It was never a burden, Trammell said, but something he looked forward to. They last saw each other in September 2009 at the 25th anniversary celebration of the 1984 World Series championship Tigers team.
"When you start to get up in age, you never know if it'll be the last time [together]," Trammell said Thursday. "We all said we were glad we could get together, not only for ourselves but for Sparky, who was getting up in age. We knew his health wasn't the same. He was tired, wasn't traveling as much."
On Tuesday evening, Trammell received a call from family spokesman Dan Ewald to update him on Anderson's health and that he was going into hospice care. Trammell wanted to know what he could do, and Ewald suggested waiting a week, and then calling Anderson's wife, Carol, to set up a visit.
But on Thursday, Anderson died at his home. He was 76.
"I'm just thankful that he touched myself and so many of my teammates," Trammell said. "He taught us how to play the game the right way but also how to conduct yourself as a true professional on and off the field.
"He thought about us not only as baseball players but as men and as family men in thinking, 'How do you conduct yourself?' Some guys didn't buy into it and obviously they weren't there as long as some others, but when you talk to Lance Parrish and [Kirk Gibson] and myself and Jack Morris and Dan Petry, we're all saying the same thing. We bought into it. We're better people for it.
"I'm proud to continue the legacy and pass the torch along. There's a right and a wrong way. To me, whether it's 100 years ago or 100 years from now, there's a right and wrong way. I feel very good and very confident in saying that Sparky was our mentor and he taught us the right way."
Trammell, 52, played for Anderson from 1979-95 in Detroit. He was the Cubs' bench coach for four years but is switching next year to a similar job with the Diamondbacks, reuniting with Gibson, who is managing the Arizona team.
"I'm proud to say what I've been teaching to the Cubs and the Tigers and Padres and now the Diamondbacks will be things that Sparky taught us," Trammell said. "The legacy will continue and we'll continue to pass the torch to a new generation of players."
The Cubs can only hope players like their Starlin Castro takes advantage of the knowlege passed on by Trammell, who worked with the young shortstop.
Thursday was a day filled with memories for Trammell.
"As sad as it is ... it's like Tiger Stadium," Trammell said. "Even though it's gone, the memories are still there and will never change. That's similar to Sparky. It's a sad day but the memories I have for him will never change and I appreciate that I got to meet him and be a part of his life. How could I ever forget him? He was like a second father. I'm very thankful."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.