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Kirk Gibson Saddened By The Passing Of Mentor Sparky Anderson

Legendary baseball manager Sparky Anderson passed away at the age of 76. Anderson was cited often by Arizona Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson as a mentor throughout his career and someone who taught him the game of baseball. Gibson released a statement today expressing his sadness at the loss of his old friend.

"I am deeply saddened by the passing of Sparky. He was a great friend, an inspiring teacher, an excellent mentor and an amazing person. Sparky was one of the most influential people in my career. I'm a better person today because of him and for that I'll always be grateful. His memory will not be forgotten and will continue to serve as an inspiration for me in my career. My hope is that Alan Trammell and I, and all of those he touched along the way, will carry on his legacy. Just a great person who has taught so many so much. I will make sure to keep his good words of wisdom flowing."

Gibson won a World Series title with the 1984 Detroit Tigers playing under manager Sparky Anderson, who called Gibson "the next Mickey Mantle" early in the slugger's career. The Diamondbacks new bench coach Alan Trammell was also on that 1984 Tigers team with Gibson and Anderson:

"Sparky was the most influential person in my career. He was a great mentor and taught us how to be true professionals, on and off the field. We look forward to passing the torch to this generation of players. I look forward to sharing some stories about Sparky and how much he meant to this game. I'm very thankful that he was part of my life."

For more coverage of Sparky Anderson's passing, visit SB Nation.com.