The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Sparky Anderson, “a great human being and a man of faith”

57346099.jpgThe baseball world is mourning the passing of legendary manager Sparky Anderson, who died today at age 76.

But as much as his heart belonged to baseball, it also belonged to his Catholic faith, which he embraced as an adult:

“He was a remarkable person,” said Cardinal Adam Maida of Detroit, archbishop emeritus. He was “a great human being and a man of faith. The baseball world and our community have lost a great ambassador.”


Shortly after he arrived in Detroit in 1990, Maida was invited by the baseball team to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Tiger Stadium.

The archdiocese, which oversees 1.3 million Catholics, said in a statement released today:

“The story is told that Sparky Anderson became interested in Catholicism when playing on a farm team for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He started going to Sunday Mass in Texas with some of his teammates. Later, when Sparky played for the Philadelphia Phillies, he befriended a priest in Pennsylvania who worked with him to become a baptized Catholic.”

The Rev. Don Worthy, a retired priest of the Detroit archdiocese, said that Anderson “led by the power of good example.”

Maida and Worthy noted that Anderson helped children, in particular “through his pediatric charity know as CATCH (Caring Athletes Team for Children’s and Henry Ford Hospital).”

“His world was more than baseball,” Cardinal Maida said. “I pray that he is now at peace with the Lord.”

May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

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Sue Hardebeck

posted November 5, 2010 at 6:27 am

Thank you for posting this. As a long time fan of Sparky, I always knew he was a good man and had a kind heart.. but I did not know that he was converted to Catholicism. This touches me in a special way and just reaffirms my hopes and beliefs.

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posted November 5, 2010 at 8:23 pm

When asked to participate in our Knights of Columbus Charity Golf Tournament as a draw, George as his friends called him, immediately replied in the affirmative. At Sunday mass he would walk down the aisle shaking people’s hands…..he truly was a class act!

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posted November 5, 2010 at 11:21 pm

In Detroit, Sparky attended St. Thomas Aquinas. I recall that not only did he attend 8 am Mass before heading to Tiger Stadium, but he also came to Church with several of his Coaching Staff, i.e., Dick Trajewski, Alex Grammis and others. It was always very cool to see them in Church then later that day on TV! RIP Sparky

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posted November 6, 2010 at 3:18 pm

As a resident of Cincinnati, this is especially sad for me. Sparky was THE example of what a man and a manager should be; fair, firm when needed, kind, compassionate, and on and on…..The Big Red machine WAS Sparky. We will miss you! You will be remembered with a Mass.

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