The Beckett Blog


Baseball legend Sparky Anderson dies at 76 by Chris Olds

By Chris Olds | Editor

George “Sparky” Anderson, the first manager to win World Series titles in both leagues, has died at age 76, leaving behind a rich legacy in Major League Baseball as well as an interesting legacy on cardboard.

Anderson managed The Big Red Machine Cincinnati Reds dynasty to two World Series titles  (1975-76) before later winning a title with the Detroit Tigers in 1984. He won 2,194 games in 26 seasons as a manager, which landed him in Cooperstown in 2000. He still ranks sixth on the all-time career victories list in MLB.

His managerial career was a stark contrast to his playing career — a single season with the Philadelphia Phillies in which he batted a forgettable .218 — and one that perhaps showcased the temperament that prompted his famous nickname, one of the most unique in the sports world.

On cardboard, Anderson’s Rookie Card comes in the 1959 Topps set (No. 338), a card that typically sells for $60 or less.

He appears on a total of 263 baseball cards, 52 of those certified autographs and 46 of those being memorabilia cards. Anderson also was a prolific through-the-mail signer of autographs, though those signatures often varied in appearance to his certified signatures like the 2001 Fleer Greats of the Game card seen above. That card was his first certified autograph ever found in packs and typically sold for $15 or less before his death.

Some of Anderson’s early food issue cards can be quite pricey, despite his lack of success as a player. His 1961 Maple Leafs Bee Hive card can fetch as much as $250.

Anderson’s first manager card came in the 1970 Topps set, which was produced during his first season with the Reds. That card, which carries perhaps a more familiar face than his card from more than a decade earlier sells for about $5.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at colds@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

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