Writer-reporter Bruce Anderson is a man of many hats, some of them pretty funny-looking. He has this one number with blue and yellow stripes and a huge bill...well, never mind. Anderson, whose story on the New York Yankees' Don Mattingly begins on page 66, can turn both a phrase and a double play, make a mean guacamole and find anagrams in the most unlikely places. He also has one of the two or three best laughs in the world.
A lot of the hats Anderson—we call him B.A.—has worn have been baseball caps. While growing up in Hollister, Calif., Anderson was a bat boy for the Hollister Merchants, a semipro team run by his father, and later in Little League, playing for the Bears and the Indians, he caught Charlie Root III, grandson of the pitcher against whom Babe Ruth is said to have called his shot in the 1932 World Series.
If a man can be judged by the company he keeps, Anderson must have been a pretty fair catcher and outfielder for the Hollister High Haybalers—he played against the likes of Carney Lansford, Pete O'Brien, Ernie Camacho, Dann Bilardello and Bob Stoddard, all major-leaguers-to-be. Anderson's last high school fielding chance was also Dave Stieb's last high school at bat, in the consolation game of the Central Coast Sectionals. Stieb hit a towering drive deep to left, Anderson went back, back, to the warning track, threw his glove up against the wall and...caught the ball, thus keeping the score Oak Grove 9, Hollister 0.
Hollister, a town of about 12,000 near San Jose, lays claim to being The Earthquake Capital of the World and, as Anderson says, is The Birthplace of the Leather Jacket Craze. It also has something of a cinematic history. "Alfred Hitchcock filmed Vertigo and Topaz in and around Hollister," says Anderson, "and the TV miniseries of East of Eden was shot there. An incident over the July 4, 1947 weekend, when motorcycle clubs took over the town, inspired the Marlon Brando movie The Wild One."
July 8, 1984
Anderson was something of a wild one himself in his youth. His best friend since high school, Doug Doan, now a captain in the Army, says, "Bruce has done much on the fields of play and in the field of journalism, but to me his greatest accomplishment—and I say this only because the statute of limitations has run out—was to make an entire porcelain toilet materialize in the middle of Hollister's busiest intersection."
Anderson got out of outdoor plumbing and into Stanford University, where he was the sports editor of The Stanford Daily. After a one-year stint at The Miami Herald, he came to SI in 1980 and soon found himself on the baseball beat. B.A. has almost as much love for the English language as he does for the Giants, which is saying something. He particularly hates, detests and abhors redundancies, and if he had his way, he would rid the world of "tuna fish." "What else can a tuna be?" asks Anderson.
He's also a whiz at turning a word inside out and making another word out of it. His subject for this week, Don Mattingly, wasn't easy, but Anderson came up with Mad Tony Glint, whatever that means. Hats off to B.A.!