Anderson’s playing career put him on the path to the Hall
But a decade later, Anderson began his second act in baseball – one that proved that he belonged in the big leagues.
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In 1958, Anderson set an IL standard for second basemen with a .988 fielding percentage. He hit .269 at the plate and finished second in the league’s Most Valuable Player voting.
The feisty Anderson – who stood 5-foot-9 and weighed 170 pounds – had long defied the odds in baseball.
Born Feb. 22, 1934, in Bridgewater, S.D., Anderson grew up in Southern California and signed with the Dodgers in 1953. By 1955, Anderson had advanced to Double-A Fort Worth – where he played on a team with future big league managers Dick Williams, Danny Ozark, Norm Sherry and Maury Wills. But after advancing to Triple-A Montreal in 1956, Anderson was unable to crack the Dodgers’ big league roster.
But while Anderson showed a steady glove – committing just 12 errors en route to the .984 fielding percentage – he struggled at the plate, hitting .218 with a .249 slugging percentage.
Anderson spent the next four seasons playing for Toronto in the International League, never to return to the majors as a player. He is the only player in big league history to appear in at least 150 games in his first year and never play in another season.
But in 1964, Anderson was named Toronto’s manager. The next season, he joined the Cardinals’ organization – where he established himself as a big league managerial prospect.
After a season coaching with the expansion San Diego Padres, Anderson – at 35 years of age – was named the Reds manager for the 1970 season. He would go on to win two World Series in Cincinnati and another with Detroit, finishing his 26-year run with a record of 2,194-1,834, five pennants and three World Series titles.
Anderson, who passed away on Nov. 4, 2010, was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2000.
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum