Former T.F. South baseball coach Bill Anderson cannot help but to get on one of his former players.
"I asked him when is he going to stay with one team because I have spent a fortune on hats and uniforms," Anderson said. "I have great-grandchildren and every time C.J. goes to a new team, I have to buy new hats and jerseys. It gets expensive."
C.J. is New York Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson and Anderson, who coached him at T.F. South, said he is more than glad to don a Mets cap next week when the the team visits Wrigley Field.
Granderson said through a Mets spokesperson that he is looking forward to meeting up with his prep coach and T.F. South alums. He said Anderson was truly a big influence on his life.
"Meeting and playing for Coach over 15 years ago I can truly say, he's a big reason why I am where I am today," Granderson said. "He saw the ability in me to go further and push harder and for that I thank him for it. It's an honor to get to share my retired number on the T.F. South scoreboard with his."
Ganderson's No. 14 and Anderson's No. 22 hang under the right-field scoreboard at Bill Anderson Field. They are the program's only retired numbers.
Granderson said his coach was intimidating and stern.
"He was intense when needed and very focused. At first glance this was something that a high school kid like myself could easily be afraid of," Granderson said. "As I was around Coach Anderson consistently, I realized all the things you saw from him were to get the most out of you as a young man first and a baseball player second. He pushed for effort, mental focus and toughness, and playing the game the right way. He always made our non conference schedule tougher than the previous year to continue to push and push us as a team."
Anderson said he called on Granderson for some help five years ago when he was asked to go to Belgrade, Serbia, to help with youth baseball.
"It was a challenge, but we got the kids playing ball and we got a lot of help," Anderson said. "C.J. got Major League Baseball Europe involved and that was a big help.
"Don't forget, it was ravaged by war and baseball is not their sport. We spent a lot of time and the kids were eager to learn. I got a thrill from it because I love teaching kids."
That was what he did for 34 years at T.F. South as he helped build the field that bears his name.
"We had a dirt infield and benches for dugouts," Anderson said. "Little by little, with help from the parents and community, we built a field. That is what I like about Lansing, the community got involved and we built a pretty nice field."
Anderson has won 578 games, seven conference titles, six regionals and one sectional. His Rebels made a 1990 Class AA Elite Eight appearance. One of things of which he is proudest was starting a freshman program.
He and his wife, Dawn, have been married 47 years and have three kids and eight grandchildren. He grew up in South Chicago and graduated from Bowen High School. He still calls Lansing his home.
"I love the community and T.F. South is special," Anderson said. "I coached (football coach) Tom Padjen, Marc Brewe the athletic director and John O'Rourke, the boys basketball coach, plus several other South coaches. It is special that they come back to their alma mater to coach."
He also coached the Holba boys — Bill, Bob, Tom and Mike — as well as a New York Mets outfielder.