True Halo fans should seem a bit more tearful today, after a collected and very thankfu..."/> True Halo fans should seem a bit more tearful today, after a collected and very thankfu..."/>

Happy Trails To You Mr. Anderson


True Halo fans should seem a bit more tearful today, after a collected and very thankful Garret Anderson announced Tuesday morning that he was hanging up his cleats for good.

Number 16 officially bid farewell to a game he very covertly dominated for seventeen years, and in a few of his last words to his fans, eluded that he had felt at times, a bit misunderstood as a player.

Anderson was a staple in SoCal baseball, leading the Angels organization in just about every offensive mark you could print on the back of a Topps card.

If you were to ask most any Angels fan what they remember the most about Anderson’s years in the bigs, what do you think they would say?

Would they recall the 2,013 games that he played?  What about the 2,368 base hits?  Or how about his 796 extra base hits and 1,292 runs batted in?  These are just a few of the franchise records that were quietly established by a sleeping giant who called left field his home for 14 seasons in Anaheim.

If you are an Angels fan like myself, then you’ve more than likely witnessed the demeanor of Garret as he hiked his way out to the outfield for our squad game after game, year after year, with no real sense of urgency or flare.  The man at times looked bored, lazy, and almost as if the game were too easy.

As my family has had season tickets for as long as I can remember, I certainly recall seeing him play on countless occasions over the years.  When I first began to realize how good Garret really was, I was sitting at a night game with my father.  We sat in the the very front row, first base side, behind the visitor’s dugout.  I could smell the pine tar and almost always left the game with a ball tossed to me from the visiting club’s skipper.  My father played for an eight year stint or so in the minors, and seemed to know just about everybody that came to town to play the halos.   I remember I looked at him during this particular game and asked him, “Why doesn’t Anderson ever try as hard as the other guys?”  As my dad inquired as to what exactly I was referring to, I explained my concerns.  “He never runs hard, he never swings hard, and I almost never see him smile,” I said.  “How come he doesn’t seem to give it his all?”  My dad set down his bag of peanuts, smiled, and said to me, “If you watch his eyes when he’s playing defense, they never leave the ball.  He’s not paying attention to the beachballs in the stands or the Goodyear blimp overhead.  He tracks the ball from the time it leaves the pitcher’s hand, and knows before the batter even swings where it’s going to be hit.  He never has to run hard to try and catch up to it.”  Then he continued by explaining that “Garret really doesn’t have that kind of rear back and try to rip the cover off the ball swing.  It’s an easy, relaxed, put it where they ain’t kind of swing.  His job is to get on base, not see how hard he can hit it.”  Before directing my attention back to the game, my dad looked at me one final time and said, “Son, having played the game most of my life, you know when it’s time to put your game face on, focus, and go to work.  There’s always gonna be plenty of time after the game to smile.”

I suppose in hindsight my dad was right.  Having watched players like Garret pluck away at the game for years, I’ve come to appreciate just how much hard work really pays off.  A Home Run Derby title, three All Star Appearances, a World Series Championship ring, a mile long list of franchise records, and just an overall illustrious career are nothing to be looked upon as misunderstood.

I get you Garret.  Just because it’s a game doesn’t mean it’s not a job, and it surely doesn’t mean that it wasn’t work.  I would just like to extend my thanks to you for all the years of dedication and service you gave to our town, our community, and most importantly to our team.  Without your hard work, 2002 would never have been the most memorable year in halo history.  Thank you for never bringing the false hustle to the ballpark, and being a true anchor for the teammates and fans you called family for 14 years.  As you move on to bigger and better things, perhaps fans will take a second to look back and realize just what you meant to the sport, and to Southern California.  I know that when you look back on your fondest memories, you will have plenty of reasons to smile.  If the fans could only see that smile now!  Thanks again GA!