You remember the Sparky Anderson rookie card, right?

No, not that 1959 Topps card showing the young infielder with the Philadelphia Phillies.

And not that more famous 1970 Topps cards of his, either, the first showing him as a manager, so fresh that Topps had to airbrush off the the Padres logo from an old shot of the newly-minted Reds skipper.

A black Cincinnati Reds cap? Sparky and Topps managed to make that one happen.

But that’s not his rookie card, either. Not really.

Sparky Anderson was a manager, see, a Hall of Fame manager. And, while it’s cool that he pushed his way into the majors for a season and gave us a shot a couple of cards of him as a player, you can’t complete your Sparky card collection without tracking down his first manager card.

To do that, you have to thread the time-machine needle just right, dialing up the period between George’s last player cards in 1960 and Sparky’s October 1969 hire by the Reds (a momentous day in Cincy baseball if ever there was one).

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See, after that one season of MLB action, Sparky found himself back in the minors, plying his trade for the Triple-A Toronto Maple Leafs. After four seasons, Leafs owner Jack Kent Cooke offered young Anderson the managerial gig with his team — Sparky accepted.

Sometimes, though, you have to bounce around a bit, make some adjustments, before you can settle in where you belong.

And that’s the way it played out for Sparky Anderson.

From 1964 through 1968 — five seasons, if you’re counting — Anderson made five minor league managerial stops.

Right in the middle of that run, he found himself at the helm of the 1966 St. Petersburg Cardinals, a Single-A affiliate for the St. Louis Cardinals. There, Sparky had his first breakout success in the dugout, leading the Cards to a sparkly 91-45 record.

That summer, a local dairy called Foremost Milk released a 20-card set of black-and-white oversize cards featuring 19 players … and one manager.

And, thus, George “Sparky” Anderson had his first baseball card as a skipper, at the tender age of 32.

Two more successful years in the minors followed, including a 1968 season spent with the Cincinnati Reds’ Double-A Asheville Tourists, and then Sparky started catching glances from Major League teams.

Anderson made the jump in 1969, latching on as the third-base coach for the expansion San Diego Padres. Then, just as the season ended, he agreed to head up the coast for 1970 to join the California Angels staff under the tutelage of manager Lefty Phillips, who, as a Dodgers scout, had signed Anderson to his first contract years before.

But on October 8, the Reds fired their manager, Dave Bristol. And Reds general manger Bob Howsam had just the right guy in mind for a replacement … a young guy he had hired twice before, in the minors, for the Cardinals and the Reds.

A young guy — even though he was graying at age 35 — named George Anderson.

Went by Sparky.

Maybe you’ve heard of him.

Now, you’ve heard of his rookie card, too.

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Wow! Wax of the Day

OK, so it doesn’t come in a wax pack, or any kind of pack, really … but you could wax this 1966 Ford Mustang. Not sure why this beauty showed up in my feed, but I’ll go with it since it fits Sparky’s managerial RC year.

Besides, it comes cheaper than all the super-fancy, whizbang, 1/1 super ultra premium *new* baseball cards that have been making headlines this summer and fall. Check out the full listing for this classic right here (affiliate link).

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