Whether they’re willing to admit it or not, every baseball fan has a favourite baseball player. Maybe it’s their favourite team’s current ace, the random right fielder whose jersey they received as a Christmas gift when they were eight years old, or a promising prospect whose career was cut short by injury.

In this new series, we’ll be asking British baseball fans to tell us how their favourite player came to be their favourite player and a whole lot more. Next up, @WsoxUK shares his affinity for Tim Anderson.

Dyersville, IA. Thursday 12th August 2021. 9.28pm

After a terrible decade, the Chicago White Sox were finally good again, and they were closing in on the pinnacle moment for the franchise since 2005.

After a topsy-turvy contest in which the Sox had just lost a 7-4 lead to the power of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton as the Yankees took an 8-7 advantage into the bottom of the ninth, Danny Mendick grounded out and then Seby Zavala took ball four on a full count to bring Tim Anderson to the plate. He launched the first pitch from Zack Britton deep into the corn over Judge in right field and celebrated as he rounded the bases while the fireworks shot out of the scoreboard.

It was a fitting moment for Anderson, a Sox first round pick who had first been called up in 2016 (just six days after the disastrous Tatis-Shields trade) and who had become a fixture at shortstop ever since, through the awful 2017 and 2018 seasons where the Sox were only kept out of the AL Central basement by the same Royals they are now attempting to emulate. Anderson was still finding his feet after his impressive debut season, but a 3.7 bWAR in 2018 showed that he was a valuable player at this level.

Anderson and the Sox exploded into life in the 2019 season and although it ended with another losing record, the team showed signs of improvement and also played with a swagger that had not been seen on the Southside for many years. Anderson led the way in that regard too, flipping his bat after a walk off home run against the Tigers, leading Jason Benetti to exclaim “have all the fun you want Tim Anderson!”. The exciting play and signs of improvement led to the Sox appearing in the Field of Dreams game, originally scheduled for the 2020 season. 2019 proved to be Anderson’s breakout season. He had an OPS+ of 128 and won the AL batting title despite an injury in the second half that coincided with the Sox downturn.

Anderson followed up with a 140 OPS+ in the shortened 2020 season and took home the Silver Slugger award as the Sox made the playoffs for the first time since 2008. He was then named an All-Star in the following two seasons despite them being hampered by injury. The Sox, too, never reached the zenith of that moment in Iowa. They won the division in 2021 but were bounced from the playoffs by the Astros in four games. They had also lost the sense of fun and swagger that propelled them into the limelight. Anderson did show some resilience and signs of his old self when he silenced the Yankee fans’ jeers in 2022, hitting a home run on national television, days after the Josh Donaldson incident. The 2023 season for Anderson was another marred by injury, as well as innuendo about his private life, and his frustrations were evident during the infamous moment with Jose Ramirez in Cleveland.

Tim Anderson’s option was not picked up by the Sox and he departed after ten years in the organisation this offseason. He signed with the Miami Marlins this spring but I, for one, will always remember what he meant to the Sox and especially that night in Dyersville, IA.

Photo: Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

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