Like a lot of proud grandparents, Bob Anderson Sr. was certain his grandson would become a Major League Baseball player. Before his death in Feb. 2019, he’d regularly make that point to his wife Beverly Anderson.
“He knew this kid was going to make it,” Beverly Anderson said earlier this week.
The grandfather was right — and, on Wednesday, 83-year-old Beverly Anderson will make her first trip to watch in person her grandson Ian Anderson pitch at Yankee Stadium, as the former Shenendehowa High School star will start the night’s game for the Atlanta Braves.
Beverly Anderson, a lifelong Capital Region resident who lives in Rotterdam, will head to the Bronx along with Ian’s parents, Bob and Karen, plus more family members and friends to cheer loudly for the 22-year-old Anderson during the 6:35 p.m. game.
Anderson made his MLB debut last season against the Yankees, but in a much different environment. Last August’s debut start was made in front of empty seats and cardboard cutouts of fans at Truist Park in Atlanta since actual fans were not allowed in attendance due to restrictions related to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Some of Anderson’s family members were able to watch him pitch last season in the playoffs once limited fans were allowed to attend, but Wednesday’s game will serve as the former Plainsmen’s first start in New York with a much bigger fanbase in attendance.
Anderson gets 14 tickets for the game, and Beverly Anderson is among that group of 14 seeing Anderson pitch for the first time in person as a major leaguer. Once offered a ticket for this week’s game, Beverly Anderson didn’t hesitate to accept the chance to watch her new favorite team.
“I watch all his games,” Beverly Anderson said. “I’ve even been watching the games when he’s not pitching.”
A 2016 Shenendehowa graduate, Ian Anderson was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2016 Major League Baseball amateur draft. With the Plainsmen, Anderson teamed with Kevin Huerter — who, elsewhere Wednesday in New York City, will be playing for the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks. Huerter was drafted by the Hawks in 2018, the No. 19 overall pick.
While Huerter starred in basketball, he was also the starting center fielder on Shenendehowa’s 2016 state championship baseball team, which Greg Christodulu and Keith Lansley coached.
Christodulu and Lansley will be among the fans heading from the Capital Region to the Bronx to watch Anderson pitch at Yankee Stadium.
“I’ve seen him pitch on TV, saw him pitch Easter Sunday, saw him pitch last year in the playoffs. But to actually be in Yankee Stadium where there have been so many great players on that mound and on that field — and, then, Ian is going to be a part of it,” said Christodulu, whose state championship-winning team also featured Ian’s twin brother Ben who is now a pitcher in the Texas Rangers’ organization. “It’s hard to really grasp. I guess it hasn’t really hit me yet.”
Lansley, Shenendehowa’s pitching coach, will need to work to keep his emotions in check.
“Watching the game with Bob [Ian’s father] gets a little nerve-wracking because he lives and dies with every pitch,” Lansley said. “I think I’m kind of separated enough where it’s more clinical for me.”
The Andersons are Red Sox fans, which dates back to Bob Anderson Sr.’s fandom. Meanwhile, Christodulu is a life-long Yankees fan – but not on Wednesday night.
“I’ve turned into a Braves fan really quick,” Christodulu said. “I’d love to see a Braves-Yankees World Series once again, but just to see him on that stage and compete at the highest level makes us all proud.”
Beverly Anderson has been fielding calls since her grandson made his major league debut last year, from friends all over the country who want to check in to see how he’s doing. Her next round of updates will be extra special.
“I’ve seen him pitch games before,” Beverly Anderson said, “but this is really going to be something.”