Sparky Anderson had a choice.
"It was so hard," he said Tuesday after being elected by the Veterans Committee. "I spent nine years in Cincinnati and 17 in Detroit, and they treated me like a king in both places."
In the end, the only manager to win World Series championships in both leagues chose Cincinnati. He did it to thank former Reds general manager Bob Howsam.
"He hired a 35-year-old nobody knew and he had the courage and fortitude to do that," Anderson said. "Had he not done that, I doubt very much in all honesty that I would have managed in the major leagues. And I owe that to him."
Anderson's election ensures a Red-letter reunion on induction day. Big Red Machine first baseman Tony Perez and longtime Cincinnati broadcaster Marty Brennaman were previously selected.
Sparky Anderson was elected to the Hall of Fame.(SportsLine) Real Audio
But Ted Williams, Stan Musial and the rest of the 14-member panel had a lot more trouble deciding which former big leaguer to elect be it Bill Mazeroski, Gil Hodges, Dom DiMaggio, Mel Harder or Tony Oliva.
So for the first time since 1993, it did not choose anyone in that category.
"We hoped someone would be there, we really did," first-time member Hank Aaron said. "It just got too hard. Maybe next year."
Afterward, the chewed-up pens and half-eaten cake in the meeting room told the story. Despite five hours of discussion and two tough ballots, it was a shutout it took 11 votes for election, and Mazeroski just missed with 10.
"It built my hopes up, but not to the point where this is a big letdown," said Mazeroski, working as an spring training instructor for the Pirates in Bradenton, about an hour south of Tampa.
"There was a lot of push in Pittsburgh and by the Pirates, and I appreciate all that. It just didn't happen," he said.
Anderson, who turned 66 last week, was elected in his first of eligibility. Third on baseball's career victory list, he ithe only manager to post 100-win seasons in both leagues.
"I never wore a World Series ring, but I will wear this one every day until I die," he said from his home in Thousand Oaks, Calif. "That, to me, is how much difference there is between the World Series and Hall of Fame."
Anderson will become the 16th manager inducted into the shrine at Cooperstown, N.Y., on July 23. He has been to the upstate New York village, but has never set foot inside the Hall
"I didn't ever want to go into the most precious place in the world unless I belonged there," he said.
Perez and Boston catcher Carlton Fisk, whose Game 6 home run beat the Reds in the 1975 World Series, were both elected in January by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Anderson was 863-586 with the Reds from 1970-78 and led them to Series titles in 1975-76. He was 1,331-1,248 with the Tigers from 1979-95 and guided them to the 1984 championship.
Anderson, who made two other Series appearances, is the only manager to lead two teams in career wins. He victory total ranks him behind just Connie Mack (3,731) and John McGraw (2,784).
McPhee batted .271 and stole 568 bases from 1882-1899. A second baseman, he resisted wearing a glove until late in his career.
Stearnes hit .359 over 18 seasons in the Negro Leagues. He began his career with the Detroit Stars in 1923 and led or shared the league lead in home runs six times.
The panel, down to 14 because of Buck O'Neil's illness, could not decide on a former major leaguer.
Mazeroski was a seven-time All-Star and won eight Gold Gloves, becoming one of the best fielding second baseman ever. He also hit one of the dramatic home runs in history, a bottom-of-the-ninth shot that lifted the Pirates over the Yankees in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series.
Ted Williams, an influential voice in the meeting room, pushed for Harder, 223-186 for the Cleveland Indians.
Hodges was backed by an intense letter-writing campaign from fans nationwide. The late Brooklyn first baseman hit 370 home runs and also managed the 1969 Miracle Mets to the World Series title.
"It was very disappointing we didn't pick one," panel member Yogi Berra said. "That's what we come here once a year to do. But we didn't do it."
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