Sparky was not the first Tiger manger that I remember, that honor goes to Ralph Houk, who also passed away this year, but he was there for the majority of my youth. Sparky came to the team in 1979 because he was available after being fired from the Reds the previous season. He had a burning desire to proved the Reds wrong for firing him and he wanted to field a winner. Detroit had a good team in place when he took over, but the team roster would change before the championship season of 84.
He would say that the 84 season provided the most pressure he had felt as a manager because of the great start of the team. It was said that if he failed to win the pennant the fans would hang him from the center field flag pole.
A lot will be written today and tomorrow about Sparky, the stories he told, his feats, etc. Sit back, read them and enjoy them as most of the funny stories are true. My only wish was that the Tigers would have retired his number 2 years ago during the 84 reunion.
If you want some light reading I recommend finding a copy of his diary of the 1984 season, Bless You Boys. It is a good look at what was happening during the season, the highs and lows.