Friday, December 6, 2013

#619 - Mike Anderson

In the early Seventies the Phillies had some serious sluggers on the team’s Triple A roster. A few of them – Greg Luzinski, Mike Schmidt, and Larry Hisle – went on to duplicate those feats in their MLB careers. And then there were guys like Mike Anderson here who never really replicated their excellent lower level work up top. In ’73 Mike was ratcheting himself into the Phillies line-up as a fourth outfielder behind Del Unser, Luzinski, and Bill Robinson. Mike was a very good defender with an excellent arm and in ’74 he would succeed Robinson as the regular guy in right but when the power failed to climb and the Phillies picked up better-hitting outfield role players like Ollie Brown and Jay Johnstone his starting time became short-lived. Here he brings back the action shot via a pensive gaze in an away stadium.

Mike Anderson grew up in South Carolina where in high school in Timmonsville he was a big three sports guy. As a QB in football he participated in the ’68 Shrine Bowl, an annual game between the best HS players of North Carolina and South Carolina. In baseball he was a first baseman and pitcher and in ’69 was a first round pick by the Phillies. He began his assault on minor league pitching right away with a big summer in Rookie ball that included a .425 OBA. In A ball the next year he moved to the top line-up spot so his RBI total slipped but he kept the OBA level up there with a .429.  In ’71 he didn’t lose a bit when he jumped to Triple A and posted his biggest numbers while maintaining his OBA. He debuted that August and remained the balance of the season in Philly. In ’72 he was initially viewed as one of a young starting outfield group with Greg Luzinski and Willie Montanez with Mike in right field. But after a poor offensive start he was returned to Triple A in late May and played out the rest of the season at that level. After spending all of ’73 with the Phillies he put up a stat line of .251/5/34 in his 395 at bats in his regular role in ’74. In ’75 he alternated in right with Jay Johnstone while posting a line 0f .259/4/28 in 247 at bats. While Mike was putting up a slugger’s strikeout total he wasn’t hitting like one, and after the season he was traded to St. Louis for pitcher Ron Reed.

In ’76 Anderson hit pretty well, posting a .291 average and a .371 OBA, but with almost zero power and in only 200 at bats as a reserve corner guy. In ’77 he quadrupled his homer total but his average collapsed by 70 points and shortly after the beginning of the ’78 season he signed as a free agent back with the Phillies and began the season in Triple A, hitting .313. with 34 RBI’s in 49 games. But he was released in June anyway and was immediately signed by Baltimore, with whom he spent the rest of the season but got minimal at bats as a late-inning defensive guy. He was released after the season and again signed with Philadelphia. Again he began the season in Triple A but by late April he was back in Philly for whom he again did the late inning thing and hit .231 in 79 at bats. In ’80 he returned to Triple A where he hit .327 in half a season before moving to the Mexican Leagues for the second half of the year. In ’81 he put in a partial season with the Pittsburgh Triple A franchise and then was done. Mike hit .246 in his MLB action and .320 in the minors with over 100 homers and a .413 OBA.

And that’s it on Mr. Anderson. He’s got another name on which it’s very tough to do a search and there is pretty much no profile on him at all since he played.

Mike has a nice signature and gets deserved props for his two biggest minor league seasons. He pitched a bit in the pros as well, throwing a scoreless inning for the Phillies in ’79 and posting a 1.12 ERA in five Triple A games in ’80.

In Watergate new things were getting heady as accusations were flowing all over the place:

4/26/73 – L. Patrick Gray resigned as acting head of the FBI after John Erlichman, a White House aide, reported he had seen John Dean, a White Hose attorney, give Gray Watergate-related documents that Gray later destroyed. Whether the documents were the same ones that Gray handed over to Dean earlier was not known. Reports of what the documents actually were were pretty varied: there were indications they included forged State Department cables implicating JFK in the assassination of South Viet Nam premier Ngo Dinh Diem in ’63 as well as documentation regarding Edward Kennedy’s car accident in ’69 in which a young woman was killed. Erlichman had been testifying before the Grand Jury and, while admitting some involvement with Gray and in the Robert Vesco case, denied any wrongdoing.

The Vesco case involved a Detroit native, Robert Vesco, who was a self-made financier who initially made most of his money in the mid-Sixties by acquiring and then aggressively expanding a company called International Controls Corporation (“ICC”). He grew ICC through debt-financed takeovers and by the early Seventies decided he wanted to move over to the investment side, seeking to leverage his controlling stake in ICC to acquire a much bigger company. His eventual target was a mutual fund firm called Investors Overseas Service Ltd. (“IOS”) whose founder was in dutch with the SEC and was looking for a rescue, but because of his regulatory problems nobody legit would touch him. Along came Vesco who engaged in a hostile takeover battle and eventually won control of the $1.4 billion fund. But Vesco soon began pilfering investor funds and stole over $200 million by ’72, now bringing an SEC investigation on himself. He and an attorney who was close to President Nixon’s nephew Donald arranged a fat $200,000 donation to CREEP for which Vesco expected help from then Attorney General John Mitchell in getting the SEC off his back. There was never any significant evidence that any Nixon cabinet members intervened on behalf of Vesco but by the time the Watergate details began receiving high-profile attention a separate Grand Jury was called to investigate the White House’s ties to Vesco and the accepted donation – illegal in its own right – was enough to make many assume automatic guilt in aiding him. Vesco would flee the country in early ’73 initially setting up shop in Costa Rica with his $200 million bankroll and buying off that country’s President who in turn established a law that Vesco could not be extradited to The States. When Vesco lost favor with the succeeding President he then moved to Cuba where by the late Eighties he became involved in drug smuggling and was later incarcerated there. He passed away in 2007.

Let’s close this post on a lighter note and get Mr. Anderson with Mr. Mason:

1. Anderson and Tom Underwood ’74 to ’75 Phillies and ’77 Cardinals;
2. Underwood and Lou Piniella ’80 to ’81 Yankees;
3. Piniella and Jim Mason ’74 to ’76 Yankees.

1 comment:

  1. And his younger brother Kent spent two years with the Angels in 1989-1990.