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Cal Lutheran names new baseball field for Sparky Anderson

ASSOCIATED PRESS

3:35 p.m. January 28, 2006

THOUSAND OAKS – Baseball Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson threw out the first ball at an alumni game Saturday at a new California Lutheran University field named in his honor.

About 500 people, including broadcaster Ernie Harwell, were on hand for the ceremony dedicating George “Sparky” Anderson Field, school spokesman Kevin Baxter said.

Anderson wore a CLU sweatshirt.

“It's a tremendous thrill,” Anderson, 71, told the Ventura County Star a day before the dedication.

Anderson managed the Detroit Tigers, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Cincinnati Reds. He was the only manager in history to have won World Series championships in both the American and National leagues and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2000. Last summer, the Reds retired his No. 10 jersey.

Anderson has lived in Thousand Oaks for more than 30 years. Although he never attended Cal Lutheran, he helped raise money for its baseball team.

In 1979, he was approached for fundraising help by Al Schoenberger, then the team's coach, and came up with the idea of a golf tournament to raise money for scholarships.

At the time, CLU was part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, which allowed athletic scholarships. The school has since moved to non-scholarship NCAA Division III competition.

The scholarship money was “enormously important,” Schoenberger said, because it helped bring in better players and turned around the baseball program, enabling it to compete for national championships, Schoenberger said.

Anderson still visits the campus regularly.

“He'll sit in the dugout and talk to us and watch the game,” baseball coach Marty Slimak said. “The older players, it's always a treat when they see George. He carries that aura about him that this is a special guy.”