Dodger Stadium special for Anderson
Center fielder remembers childhood, ascent through Majors
LOS ANGELES -- Dodger Stadium holds a special place among Brian Anderson's personal baseball memories, as both a young player and as a young fan.
Back in 2003, as the White Sox top pick in the First-Year Player Draft, Anderson took his first cuts among a few future teammates before an Interleague contest in Los Angeles on June 6. The mild-mannered Anderson, at the time, answered questions from the media with "Yes, sir" and "No, sir" and actually put a couple of batting practice shots into the left-field stands.
"I don't remember much," said Anderson when asked about his first big league batting practice session. "I remember Billy Koch bending my hat, and how they had me pretending to lead stretch. I also hit some balls out.
"It was the coolest thing, pretty exciting. To come back and actually play here, it's just awesome."
Anderson stood on the field at the beginning of this three-game series, which came to a close on Thursday, and reminisced with Jim Thome about his childhood memories of attending Dodgers contests with his father. He spoke of finding himself in the same spot on the field as a player where longtime pitching coach Ron Perranoski once threw him a baseball.
"Growing up a diehard Dodger fan, it's cool to come back and play," said Anderson, who spent part of his childhood in Orange County. "I talked to my dad about it. For me, this is one of the best places to play, and I love the atmosphere here. I mean, it's Dodger Stadium. It's more important and special to me to play here over Wrigley Field or even Yankee Stadium."
When asked about the long journey he has traveled since that June day in 2003 to the present, Anderson smiles and points out how everyone talks about the many ups and downs, and he's only played a couple of years in the Majors. Anderson arrived with the White Sox carrying a can't-miss tag, but somewhere along the way, he found himself on the outside looking in with the organization.
Now, Anderson makes a second straight start against a Los Angeles southpaw and has seemed to find a niche as a top reserve on a first-place team. It's not what he might have originally imagined as a youngster in the Dodger Stadium stands, but it certainly works for him.
"Hopefully, I can continue moving up and have a long career," Anderson said.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.