I think George "Sparky" Anderson came out of the womb looking about 75 years old. Full head of white hair, smoking a pipe, a well-lined face. In reality, he wasn't "old" at all when he managed the Cincinnati Reds (during their Big Red Machine days) and my Detroit Tigers (famously during the 1984 World Series run and ultimate victory).
News broke yesterday that his family had called in hospice to help with his final stages of dementia, and now we've learned that he has passed at the age of 76.
Sparky was the first manager in baseball history to win World Series titles in both leagues (the NL Reds and the AL Tigers). The astounding numbers of his managerial career earned him a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000 - where he went in as a Red. Which most Tigers fans forgave him for because, dang, he managed the Big Red Machine.
Sparky was one of the great characters in baseball who was able to back that up by being pretty darn smart. Which makes the thought of how his final days were spent, succumbing to dementia, all the more depressing. I feel like a piece of my childhood just slipped away into the night.