Anderson draws loud ovation
DETROIT -- The Detroit Tigers celebrated the 25th anniversary of their last championship team, and Sparky Anderson was the star of the show.
The Hall of Fame manager easily drew the loudest cheers at Comerica Park when he was introduced with his former players and staff from the 1984 squad Monday night before Detroit's scheduled game against the Minnesota Twins was postponed by rain.
Earlier in the day, Anderson had a twinkle in his eye and an ear-to-ear smile as he posed for a team picture and regaled reporters with stories.
"Sparky is in his glory," said Jack Morris, whose no-hitter was one of the many memorable moments from the 1984 season. "This might be his greatest day. I love it. Good for him."
Anderson said the reunion was special because it likely will be the last one.
"There might be two, three, four or five [players] together, but they'll never all be together again," he said. "I'm 75, I know I ain't going to make it. It's a great moment for all of them."
Several thousand fans appeared to be sprinkled throughout the ballpark when Anderson and 1984 World Series MVP Alan Trammell addressed the crowd.
Trammell praised Anderson.
"There was one man responsible for putting this together," he said. "Sparky, we love ya!"
Anderson thanked Tigers owner Mike Ilitch and general manager Dave Dombrowski for welcoming back the team and predicted the economically ravaged Motor City will rebound.
"This city will be back again!" Anderson told the crowd.
Looking back, what the 1984 Tigers did might not be duplicated.
Relying mostly on players the organization drafted and developed, Detroit's 35-5 start stands as the best in baseball since 1901 and included a 17-game winning streak on the road. The Tigers didn't have a player hit more than 33 homers or drive in more than 98 runs. Closer Willie Hernandez won Cy Young and MVP awards.
"We had something going for that year," Trammell said. "In my opinion, we would've beat the 1927 Yankees that year. We weren't going to be denied."
Bert Blyleven agreed that it simply was the year of the Tigers.
"In Cleveland that year, we were already looking forward to spring training in May," said Blyleven, who is in Detroit this week working as a Twins TV analyst.
The most memorable moment of the 1984 World Series came in the fifth and final game when Kirk Gibson hit a three-run homer off Goose Gossage in the eighth inning to seal an 8-4 win. Tigers fans can close their eyes and still see Gibson thrusting his arms to the sky as the crowd roared at Tiger Stadium.
Morris said the memories he has of the season are enriched by the lasting relationships.
"This bond, it will last our lifetimes," Morris said. "When we see each other, our bodies physically have changed, we have more gray hair -- some of us don't have hair at all -- but we look at each other the same way we did back then."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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