The baseball world lost one of its legends today… George Lee “Sparky” Anderson.
There was no other like him. When I heard this on the news tonight, it got me reminiscing. I grew up three blocks from the Cincinnati Reds spring training facility here in Tampa, Florida. They played their spring training games at the old Al Lopez Field, right by my house (Raymond James Stadium holds that spot these days). The tickets were a buck or so; or free with a Slurpee at the local 7-11 convenient store. Those were the days, huh?
I spent a goodly portion of my childhood at Al Lopez Field and Redsland, as the training facility was called. I went with my older brother to one game in particular that I remember. I met Sparky that day. I also met Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, and Tony Perez. That was some day! I can still picture the sights and sounds of that day in my memory. I doubt it was really that bright an d sunny. The mind always improves memories for the benefit of the person recalling them.