Anderson has Hall supporter in Ripken
Orioles star lands on ballot one year after legend is inducted
BALTIMORE -- Perhaps it's fitting that Brady Anderson goes on the Hall of Fame ballot one year after one of his closest friends, Cal Ripken Jr., achieved baseball's greatest honor. Anderson, a three-time All-Star, played with Ripken for more than a decade and made his biggest headlines by swatting a career-high 50 home runs in 1996.
That's not really the type of player he was for the rest of his career, though. Anderson made his reputation as a fleet-flooted outfielder with a well-rounded offensive game. He stole more than 20 bases seven times, but hit more than 20 home runs just three times in 15 seasons. Still, Anderson is about as recognizable as any non-Ripken Oriole from his era.
Anderson was drafted and developed by the Red Sox, but he was traded to the Orioles after just 41 big league games. He never hit higher than .231 for his first three-plus seasons in Baltimore, but finally began to assert himself in 1998. Anderson batted .271 with 21 homers and 53 stolen bases that year, earning the first of his All-Star assignments.
"It happens to everybody. You age and you stop playing -- although he seems to have the fountain of youth, somehow," Ripken said recently of Anderson. "He came over in the Mike Boddicker trade and Boddicker's locker was next to mine, so he ended up coming into that locker. We struck up a friendship from that point.
"I don't know how many votes he's going to get, [but] I'll vote for him."
Ripken, of course, doesn't have voting privileges in the balloting done by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, but few had a better seat for Anderson's career than he did. Anderson stole 20 or more bases for five straight seasons in between 1992 and 1996, and he did so despite missing at least 15 games in three of those years.
Anderson's power remained largely gap-to-gap until '96, when he more than doubled his career high with his 50-homer season. He didn't break 20 again until '99, when he hit 24 home runs for his next-best output. Anderson finished his career with respectable totals in hits (1,661), home runs (210), RBIs (761) and runs scored (1062).
Anderson, who spent all but the very beginning and the very end of his career in Baltimore, was recognized for his loyalty by being inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame in 2004. He ranks in the organization's top five in several categories, including but not limited to runs (1,044), total bases (2,698), hits (1,614), extra-base hits (602), walks (927) and steals (307).
The left-handed hitter started 11 times on Opening Day for the O's and remains the only player in franchise history with a 50-homer and a 50-steal season. In fact, he and Barry Bonds are the only players in baseball history to achieve that feat.
Anderson's last season with Baltimore came in 2001, which also wound up being Ripken's swan song. The outfielder switched organizations and played his final 34 games with Cleveland before calling it a career. Anderson, who was a 10th-round Draft pick in 1985, retired in May 2002, almost four months to the day after his 38th birthday.
"Brady was pretty much my best friend in baseball, and I enjoyed spending time with him," Ripken said. "It's really weird now, because I don't get a chance to see him as much. We get busy doing other things. As he refers to it, it's the offseason all the time now. Brady's in fantastic shape and it looks like he can still play. I guess he's on the ballot because he's been out five years now. I didn't know he was out that long. It seemed like he was still playing long after I retired."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.