Former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda said Wednesday that he was notified last week of the condition of Sparky Anderson, his close friend and fellow Hall of Fame manager. Anderson, who lives in Thousand Oaks, has been placed under hospice care due to "complications resulting from dementia,'' according to a release issued by his family.
Lasorda said when he saw Anderson at the annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony in August, it was obvious something was wrong.
"He looked bad,'' Lasorda said. "He was really down. He was very sickly, and we had to take him off the stage. And then I called him about 10 days ago because I was thinking about him. We spoke, but I didn't want to speak too long because he sounded exhausted, you know? We talked for maybe eight or 10 minutes, and he thanked me for thinking of him, and that was it.''
Anderson guided the Cincinnati Reds to National League pennants in 1970 and '72 and World Series titles in '75 and '76. He later won another World Series title with the Detroit Tigers in 1984, making him the first manager ever to win a world championship in each league.
Lasorda, who had been the Dodgers third-base coach, was named their manager at the end of that 1976 season. The Dodgers overtook Anderson's Reds in the National League West each of the next two seasons.
"When I got the job, I called him and said the friendship had to end,'' Lasorda said. "I'm going out there to beat you now. That was a great rivalry that we built up with Cincinnati. ... Sparky and I had been teammates in the minor leagues. We played together for the old Los Angeles Angels and in Montreal. We were very, very close friends.''
Anderson, 76, made an appearance at Dodger Stadium on May 23 before a game between the Dodgers and Tigers and visited with two other close friends, then-Dodgers manager Joe Torre and Tigers manager Jim Leyland. He appeared at the time to be reasonably healthy.
Lasorda said he was notified of Anderson's condition last week in a call from an Anderson family friend at the request of Anderson's wife, Carol.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.