Dave Anderson is a baseball lifer who played 10 years in the majors and has been a big league coach and a minor league manager.
He is only 56 years old and when all is said and done, he will be one of those players on a coaching staff who seemingly has been everywhere and done everything.
One thing is certain, he is a player, albeit a supporting one, in one of the greatest moments in the history of baseball.
And that is not hyperbole. Whenever baseball’s all time greatest moments are listed, whether it is the greatest endings to a game, most dramatic home runs, legendary World Series moments etc, a moment that kind of sort of involves Dave Anderson comes up.
In 1981, the Dodgers drafted Anderson out of the University of Memphis. By the time he made his debut with the Dodgers in 1983, the team was simultaneously rebuilding and contending. The infield of Cey, Russell, Lopes and Garvey was broken up and young players like Greg Brock and Steve Sax were making their mark.
In 1984, Anderson was primarily the starting shortstop for the Dodgers but found himself playing all over the infield.
When the Dodgers won the 1985 NL West, Anderson was a jack of all trades in the infield. He did not hit much, seeing his average dip to .199 with an OPS of .591. Anderson did start Game 3 of the 1985 NLCS and drew a pair of walks. The Dodgers lost that game and the rest of the games in the series. I don’t think it was Anderson’s fault.
His role as a reserve continued in 1986, 1987 and 1988. Anderson started 72 games at shortstop for the 1988 NL West champs. Neither he nor newly acquired Alfredo Griffin were playing like All Stars for the Dodgers that year but they fielded the position well enough.
Anderson did not play in the NLCS and did not seem to have much of a role in the post season.
Then came his bizarre place in baseball history.
In Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, the Dodgers could not start eventual MVP Kirk Gibson because of his myriad of injuries. When the A’s and Dodgers took Game 1 to the bottom of the 9th, the heavily favored Oakland squad was clinging to a one run lead.
Kirk Gibson was swinging a bat in the clubhouse batting cage, trying to see if he could come up for one at bat. Meanwhile, the Dodgers razor thin lineup had to face Dennis Eckersley.
Manager Tom Lasorda turned to his bench on the 9th with 2 outs. Mike Davis, brought in to give the Dodgers much needed power, was a total bust in 1988. He pinch hit for Alfredo Griffin and kept the game alive with a walk.
As David was compiling his 2 out walk, Dave Anderson went into the On Deck circle. A’s manager Tony LaRussa could come up with strategies regarding the next hitter. Maybe Eckersley was careful with the powerful yet slumping Davis knowing that a back up infielder was coming up next.
Davis walked and Anderson was summoned back to the dug out. It was Kirk Gibson’s moment.
Of course as we all know Gibson homered, the Dodgers never looked back.
In game 3, Anderson actually appeared in a World Series game. He pinch hit for Mike Davis oddly enough.
By Game 5, the Dodgers had won the World Series and Anderson got his ring.
He has coached and been a manager on a smattering of minor league teams. But if baseball history is a collage of memorable moments, Dave Anderson being a decoy in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series is his ticket to immortality… or at least immortality light.