Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Garret Anderson Is Mr. Angel

After 17 Major League seasons, former Angels outfielder Garret Anderson quietly walked away from the game Tuesday.  There was no live news conference or breaking news alert on television or the web—just a press release and a conference call.

It was simple. It was understated. It was classic Garret Anderson.

Over the course of his career, Anderson was one of the most consistent, yet misunderstood athletes of his generation.  His cool, never-rattled demeanor allowed him to consistently produce in the game’s most intense situations, but at times, it led fans to believe he was disinterested.  Hit a walk-off homerun or strikeout with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th; the reaction was usually the same.

"I don't think I was misunderstood -- I know I was misunderstood," Anderson said. "I'm sorry for that. I was who I was, going out and playing hard every day. I know I'm a quiet person."

Anderson says quiet, while some media members might use adjectives such as unapproachable or ornery—neither of which I ever experienced by the way.

GA—as most affectionately call him—wasn’t much for small talk, especially while he was working, but he never avoided fielding questions from the media.  However, if you asked what he might consider a silly or stupid question, Anderson usually responded with biting sarcasm, looks of disgust or both.

In a time when perception equals reality, Anderson is likely not remembered as the All-American male, but rather the modern day unappreciative professional athlete. When what he actually should be remembered as is a Southern California kid who became Mr. Angel.

Sure, franchise home run king Tim Salmon generally holds that title within the Angels fan base, but Anderson’s numbers would suggest otherwise.

Anderson—who spent the last two seasons with the Braves (2010) and the Dodgers (2009)—retires as the Angels’ the all-time leader in games (2,013), at-bats (7,989), runs (1,024), hits (2,368), total bases (3,743), extra-base hits (796), doubles (489) and RBI (1,292). 

He is also tied for third in average with Johnny Ray at .296, third in triples (35) and second in home runs (272).

In addition to being a three-time All-Star (2002-2003, 2005), All-Star Game MVP and Home Run Derby Champion (2003), The Sporting News “Rookie of the Year” (1995), and a two-time Silver Slugger Award winner (2002-2003), Anderson also set the Angels franchise record for most grand slams (8), most RBI in a game (10), and most consecutive games with a RBI (12).
Anderson just didn’t make a few marks in the Angels record book, he practically rewrote it.

"Garret's role in where the Angels organization is today cannot be overstated,” said Angels manager Mike Scioscia.  “He had a tremendous passion to play this game and a deep understanding of how to play to win and that was very important to this organization.”

And the Angels organization—as well as its fans—remains just as important to Anderson.

“To the Autry family, thank you for taking a chance and letting me play at the raw age of 22,” Anderson said in a statement.  “To Disney and Mr. & Mrs. Moreno, thank you for allowing me to play most of my career in an Angel uniform. 

“To all the managers and coaches, both in the minor and big leagues, and players that had a hand in my success, thank you.  To the Angel fans, I want to apologize for being somewhat difficult to read at times and thank you for your support even still.  I’ve appreciated your encouragement over the years.”

So move over King Fish, there’s a new Mr. Angel in town, and his name is Garret Anderson.

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