07/16/2003 2:15 AM ET
MVP Anderson steals All-Star show
By John Schlegel / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- That's it for the Garret Anderson Show from U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago. We now return you to your regularly scheduled baseball
Garret Anderson connects for a two-run homer off Woody Williams. (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP)
Anderson, the formerly semi-anonymous left fielder for the Angels, made
the 2003 All-Star Game his own showcase, following up his Home Run Derby
title by earning the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player honor in
Tuesday's 7-6 American League victory over the National League.
The Angels standout, who went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer, edged out the Rangers' Hank Blalock for the prestigious award, thanks to some help from MLB.com online voters.
For the first time ever, fans had a say in the MVP balloting, and they made their vote count. Anderson was the fans' choice, giving him three of the five total votes in the balloting. The other four voting entities were The Baseball Writers Association of America, FOX Sports, ESPN Radio and MLB International.
After delivering a key eighth-inning double off the Dodgers' Eric Gagne, Anderson was replaced by pinch-runner Melvin Mora. Three batters later, Blalock capped an AL comeback with a game-winning, two-run homer off Gagne.
Anderson became the first Derby-MVP double winner since Cal Ripken Jr. in 1991. In Anderson's mind the two events were two different animals, although both days ended with him holding a trophy.
"Yesterday was more of an exhibition, to put on a show for the fans -- they want to see the long ball," Anderson said. "Today, it was going back to playing baseball and doing the things that I'm capable of doing."
Whatever the case, it was a two-day venture into some big numbers: 22 homers in the Home Run Derby to match his regular-season total thus far, 3-for-4 in the big game and 2-for-2 in the trophy department.
Maybe now the "never gets any attention" storyline for Anderson can be a part of history once and for all, and in the future his name will be on the lips of baseball fans everywhere -- like his name was on the fingertips of online voters Tuesday.
"All of Southern California has known about Garret for a long time, and the baseball community definitely has known about him for a long time," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who wound up looking good for leaving his own player in the game into the eighth inning.
Certainly, the players who have played against Anderson for years now were not surprised by the quiet man who carries a big stick.
"Garret had an unbelievable game," said Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi, who battled Anderson often when he was with the A's. "Hitting a homer, falling a triple short of the cycle. That's a lousy All-Star Game, huh?"
Seattle's Bret Boone has seen this kind of thing before from Anderson as well.
"He's a great player, and he has been for a lot of years," Boone said. "The guy can just flat-out hit."
Angels hitting coach Mickey Hatcher sees Anderson every day, and he says this is just the kind of thing he's capable of doing.
"He's our hitter," Hatcher said. "He's the guy that carries the team or when the team struggles he's the guy who maintains that swing. He's very low-maintenance, and he just keeps getting better year in and year out."
Although Anderson carries a stoic demeanor on and off the field, Hatcher saw an example of his competitive fire during Monday's Home Run Derby, which Anderson won with a 9-8 win over the Cardinals' Albert Pujols in the finals.
"His quote to me was, 'I wish I would have gone second,' " Hatcher said. "He wanted the other guy to hit nine home runs and then be the guy who got to pass that up.
"He likes the pressure. He likes being the guy."
He certainly was the guy Tuesday night, just like he was Monday night.
It was obviously a big night as well for Blalock, the second-year third baseman, whose pinch-hit homer was the first in an All-Star Game since Jeff Conine hit one at Arlington in 1995 and the first homer in a first All-Star Game at-bat since Atlanta's Javy Lopez in '97.
The homer even garnered a pump of the fist from the normally stoic Anderson.
"When you're going against a tough pitcher and you see something like that happen, you just don't see that every day," Anderson said. "That's what's exciting about the game: Never knowing what's going to happen, because on paper we were not supposed to score any runs off Gagne."
Others who were in contention for MVP honors at one time or another during the game included Atlanta's Andruw Jones, who doubled and homered; Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki, who scored the game's first run and made a beautiful running and leaping catch in the fourth; and Colorado's Todd Helton, whose two-run homer gave the National League an early lead they didn't relinquish until Blalock's blast in the eighth.
Along the way, Anderson brought the AL back into the game, drawing them to within two runs with his two-run shot off the Cardinals' Woody Williams in the sixth and then starting the winning rally with a double in the eighth.
And now he's bringing home a couple of trophies, and a whole lot more notoriety after owning both days at the 2003 All-Star Game.
"Whether Garret likes it or not, he's on that stage now," Scioscia said.
John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.