Legendary Cranbrook Baseball Coach Sanders Has Died
- Deceased's name: Jack Sanders
- Age: 86
- Date: April 19, 2012
— via Cranbrook Schools —
Prior to last spring, the indomitable Sanders had not missed a single post-season game or end-of-season banquet since he started coaching – a seemingly impossible 62-year run that illustrated his absolute commitment to the generations of young athletes whose lives he touched.
Varsity baseball coach Andy Fairman worked with Sanders over the past ten years.
Says Fairman, “On the whole, Jack was a very private person. He was really all about baseball and coaching. His three great passions were baseball, coaching, and Cranbrook. He supported the kids off the baseball field – he went to see them at their basketball, hockey, and football games. That was his level of commitment.”
Fairman says that Sanders’ enduring popularity was obvious.
“When we would go on our spring trip to Florida, [alumni] came from all over the state to see him. We regularly had visitors to our dugout every year.”
It was often said that to Jack Sanders, baseball was more than just a game — it was a lifelong passion. From teaching throwing and fielding mechanics, to raking and brooming each base path after a Saturday doubleheader, Sanders made the diamond his second home. Jack would spend his weekends on the baseball diamond edging the grass, raking home plate and the pitcher’s mound, and grooming the infield to perfection. Often he would stop and rest by lying flat on his back on his beloved field.
After graduating from Cranbrook in 1942, Sanders attended Amherst College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and helped manage the varsity baseball team. When he returned to Cranbrook in 1949 as an assistant coach to Fred Campbell, Sanders began the historic coaching run that would land him a spot in the Michigan High School Coaches Hall of Fame and the honor of a having a field — Jack Sanders Field — named after him.
Sanders' name is also familiar to Detroiters who may have had the privilege of visiting one of his family's 50 Sanders candy shops, which operated for more than 100 years in Detroit and Ann Arbor.
The entire Cranbrook Schools community expresses its deepest sympathies to both Sanders’ surviving family, as well as the countless student athletes from the past six decades who remember him so fondly.
Cranbrook Schools will provide further information concerning final arrangements as they become available.