We just learned that Sparky had entered hospice care yesterday, and he's already gone today. I mean, I'm glad he didn't suffer for a lengthy period. Dementia is bad enough without that. It's just that we didn't have time to prepare ourselves for losing him.
I admit that I loved Sparky because I didn't know any other manager. However, everyone else I've read loved him too, so I guess I wasn't that far off base. Sparky has been universally acknowledged as a great manager, and a wonderful person.
I'm so glad Sparky made the trip here last year for the 25th anniversary of the 1984 World Series. I went to that game, but had some mishaps. There were some pregame festivities, in which members of the '84 team visited with fans and the media. I missed all of that. Sigh. Then the rain blew in. My mother and I watched from the right-field bleachers as they introduced the 1984 Tigers one by one. We were kind of far away. It was still pretty great. Then the game was called for rain. It was deflating. A night of revelry cut short.
However, Sparky got to spend time with his players, and they got a chance to see him. I'm glad they all had the opportunity to go over old times. In addition to Lou Whitaker and Aurelio Lopez, you know what was missing? Tiger Stadium. You know what though? Sparky wasn't overly melodramatic about losing her. I couldn't find the interview, but I seem to remember him saying something to the effect to keep the memories of her and move on.
It's all well and good to say "move on" when it's an inanimate object you're dealing with. We won't be "moving on" without Sparky. We'll work to keep his memory alive. That won't be hard. I'd be thrilled to regale you with a few stories any time.