The last time I ran into Sparky Anderson was on the roof of Fenway Park, on a walkway to the press box.
The colorful manager of the Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers was encircled by sportswriters before a 1986 World Series game between the Red Sox and New York Mets.
Anderson was holding court, regaling us with a story about Pete Rose. Anderson was raving about the laser-like focus of Rose, who became the all-time hits leader the year before.
But this story was about Rose's stamina. Anderson was returning to his hotel room in Chicago after breakfast when he spied two buxom lasses knocking on a player's door. This was four or five hours before the usual afternoon game at Wrigley Field.
Rose's head popped out the door as he ushered his guests into his room. Caught red-handed, Rose held up three fingers and said, 'Don't worry, Skip. I'll get three knocks (hits) today.' "
Pausing for effect, Anderson told us, "And he did! But don't write that."
That was vintage Anderson. Storyteller supreme. Gestures flying. Always with that perpetual ear-to-ear winning smile. Where Anderson went, raucous laughter followed.
One of my best journalism jobs was my six years (1973-1977) covering the Big Red Machine, among the most dominant teams in baseball.
I interviewed Casey Stengel, then 83, that first season in Cincinnati and later realized I was seeing Anderson transforming into Casey, one of the grand ambassadors of the game. Anderson, who joined Stengel in the Hall of Fame in 2000, died Thursday at the age of 76.
Anderson had a habit of starting many sentences with "truthfully," and I can truthfully say he was one of the all-time nicest guys in any sport.
THE SCENE AND HEARD
"Live! with Regis and Kelly" returns to Wynn Las Vegas for two days of taping Nov. 28-29. To request Regis and Kelly tix, log on to website, LiveRegisandKelly.com. ...
Correction: Danny Gans' home recently sold for $3.75 million, not the $9 million reported here. The latter number was the cost of construction and land.
MAY I RECOMMEND
Gail Simmons, "Top Chef" judge and host of its spin-off "Top Chef: Just Desserts," hosts the inaugural Food & Wine All-Star Weekend, starting with tonight's kickoff party from 8-10 p.m. at Bar Vdara at City Center. An after-party starts at 10 p.m. at Aria's Deuce Lounge. The food extravaganza features many star chefs from MGM Resorts International. For the event schedule, ticketing and more information, visit www.foodandwine.com/vegas.
Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, at Red Rock Resort on Thursday with his daughter Liz Cheney, who reportedly is planning to follow in his political footsteps. ... Olympic swimming star Michael Phelps and race car driver Marco Andretti, chasing Perrier Jouet champagne with multiple rounds of Patron Silver Tequila in a private dining room at N9NE Steakhouse with Jesse Shen, N9NE general manager. ... Nicole Murphy, ex-wife of Eddie Murphy, and Phelps, at the same V.I.P. table at Surrender Nightclub (Encore) on Wednesday. ... Rapper-producer T-Pain, brought on stage by the Jabbawockeez (Luxor) on Wednesday. ... The Food Network's "Unwrapped," taping at Treasure Island this week. A future segment will reveal an amazing Easter cake prepared by Treasure Island Executive Pastry Chef Debra Mitchell. ... U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., dining with colleagues Wednesday night at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant (Paris). He was re-elected on Tuesday.
THE PUNCH LINE
"All of the election coverage was constantly being interrupted by the computers, updates and text messages from Brett Favre." -- Craig Ferguson