An owner is always faced with the challenging decision of determining if and when to retire a number. A variety of factors can go into the decision. How long did they play for the team? What impact did they have on the franchise? How long have they been retired?
This weekend the Detroit Tigers announced that they’re going to retire the number of its former manager, Sparky Anderson. Sparky’s #11 will be honored and join other Tiger greats, Al Kaline and Willie Horton. But is it a little too late to celebrate this beloved manager? Sparky died last November and it has been 16 years since he worked for the Tigers organization. 16 years – plenty of time for Sparky and owner Mike Ilitch to mend fences and let bygones be bygones. Right? Wrong.
There are many Detroit sports reporters and fans that are upset Mike Ilitch didn’t honor Sparky sooner. Of course none of us will ever know what went on behind closed doors, but we do know it will be a bittersweet day when Sparky’s number is retired and he’s not there. I have no doubt that Sparky will be looking down on the ceremony from above, but Sparky deserved to emerge from the dugout and walk to the pitcher’s mound one last time.
Owner Lesson: Honor your players and staff when you can. Don’t let feuds and disagreements get in the way of showing your love and appreciation. You never know what tomorrow will bring.
Good Night Sports Fans,