Saratoga County

Back home, World Series champion Ian Anderson ‘hasn’t changed one bit’

World Series champion Ian Anderson, a Shenendehowa graduate, talks to local media members at Impact Athletic Center in Halfmoon Friday afternoon, November 12, 2021.
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World Series champion Ian Anderson, a Shenendehowa graduate, talks to local media members at Impact Athletic Center in Halfmoon Friday afternoon, November 12, 2021.

HALFMOON — Ian Anderson laughed as he thought about it.

Yes, the sweatshirt and winter hat he was wearing Friday, the ones celebrating the Atlanta Braves’ recent World Series win, are just the tip of the iceberg. At home, there are all types of keepsakes from the last several months of what’s still a relatively young baseball career that’s already seen so much accomplished.

“I got too much. Too much,” Anderson said Friday of the mementos he’s collected. “I mean, I accumulated so much over the season.”

That season ended for the 23-year-old from Rexford less than two weeks ago, when the Braves closed out the World Series with a 7-0 Game 6 win with Anderson slated to pitch the next day’s Game 7. Anderson only wrapped up his Shenendehowa High School career in 2016, and he arrived back in the Capital Region earlier this week as a World Series champion . . . and with two carloads of gear from the season.

“They were packed to the brim,” Anderson said of the vehicles that he and his longtime girlfriend Audrey Shaffer — a fellow Shenendehowa graduate — recently drove from Georgia to upstate New York.

Anderson met with media members Friday at Impact Athletic Center, a facility that recently opened and counts Tom Huerter as one of its co-owners. Huerter — the former Siena men’s basketball player whose son Kevin Huerter plays in the NBA and teamed with Anderson as youth and high school athletes — helped coach Anderson as a youth baseball player in Clifton Park.

Huerter was one of a few of Anderson’s former coaches in attendance at Friday’s event. Dad Bob Anderson — who won 300-plus games and a state championship as a high school coach at his alma mater Schalmont — was obviously there, as was Shenendehowa head coach Greg Christodulu whose program won a state championship in 2016 with Ian Anderson leading the way.

The No. 3 overall pick in the 2016 MLB amateur draft, Anderson has become a name that any serious baseball fan in the country knows over the last year and change. Since he debuted in August of 2020, he’s won 12 of 19 decisions, registered a 3.25 ERA and struck out 165 batters in 160 2-3 innings in regular-season play — and he’s been better in the postseason. He’s 4-0 in the games that mattered most, with a 1.26 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 35 2-3 innings.

That postseason success crescendoed with Anderson’s Game 3 start in the World Series, a game that saw him toss five no-hit innings, earn the win and become the first starting pitcher to record at least five no-hit innings in a World Series game since Don Larsen pitched a perfect game for the New York Yankees in 1956.

And . . . 

“He’s just the same person. He’s so grounded,” Christodulu said Friday of Anderson. “He’s still just Ian Anderson, who came out of Clifton Park and Shenendehowa High School. He hasn’t changed one bit — and I don’t foresee him changing. I don’t see that happening at all.”

Christodulu credited that to Anderson’s mother and father, who took one flight after another to watch the Braves’ final 14 postseason games — in Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles and Milwaukee — and ended up on the field to celebrate moments after the Braves won the World Series. Anderson said celebrating on the field with his parents and girlfriend at Minute Maid Park in Houston was “probably the most emotional” moment of the night.

“It was special,” Anderson said. “I got to get a picture with my dad holding the World Series trophy.” 

Bob Anderson has often said he’s “living and dying” with every pitch when his son is on the mound, but mom Karen Anderson said she somehow found it easier to watch her son pitch in the World Series than in other postseason games.

“I actually was calmer for the World Series than I was for the previous two playoff series,” said Karen Anderson, who — like her husband — is a retired teacher. “I  think it was because that was it; they’d either win or lose, but they were still playing in the World Series.”

Karen Anderson said “it’s neat and it’s cool” that one of her four sons is something of a celebrity. 

“But I try not to think about that too much because he’s still, at the end of the day, Ian,” Karen Anderson said. “He comes home and wants me to cook him dinner, so I try not to get too involved in all that stuff.”

The same goes for Ian. After seemingly celebrating non-stop for several days after the Braves won in early November, the thrill of this week was to play a round of golf, and the only plans for the immediate future are to relax and plan a vacation.

“I haven’t thought about when I’m going to pick up a ball yet,” Anderson said.

At some point, he’d like to head to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown to see the different items from the World Series sent there, a collection that includes a baseball he pitched in Game 3. Spending time around the Capital Region, too, is a priority. 

“It’s definitely meant a lot to know that I would be coming home, and I have all this support back home,” Anderson said.

Categories: News, Saratoga County, Sports

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