By Steve Robinson | July 27, 2014 - 10:00 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Cornbelters, The Normalite

BaseballOne gets the feeling Eric Anderson would like to become a household name someday once he reaches the majors. For now though, one of the newest members of the Normal CornBelters is making a name for himself as a dual threat: During the few weeks since he joined the Frontier League club, he has been both a pitcher and an outfielder.

It might seem strange to many to hear that a player has the skill sets for both of the distinctive defensive roles needed to play the game, but for Anderson, it’s been routine since he played at the University of Missouri, where he earned a degree in Hospitality Management when he graduated in May.

“At Mizzou, I played all year going both ways on the field,” the 6 foot-5, 235 pound Anderson said. The CornBelters is his first professional playing assignment. So far, he has shown he can help win games. That was evident on July 24 at The Corn Crib in north Normal when the Lake Erie Crushers were in town. The 23-year-old smacked a ball deep hit into right field to help score infielder Pat McKenna from third base, giving the CornBelters a 5-4 victory.

“I want to do as much as I can here to win ball games, and help our team be successful,” Anderson said. “Hopefully from here, that’ll get me into a minor league program, just as it is the goal for everyone here.”

Anderson signed with Normal Player Personnel Director Nick Belmonte after Belmonte saw him at an Independent League event for showcasing young talent in St. Petersburg, Fla. In the roughly three weeks since being in Normal, Anderson said the experience has been positive.

Cornbelters 5th Anniversary“The CornBelters have been very accepting and gotten me involved,” Anderson said. “They are great people. They’re teaching me what I need to know to get hitters out in this league.” Prior to games played on Tuesday, Anderson had gotten in 13.2 innings in 9 games where he struck out 13, walked two, allowing 14 hits and six runs. He was 0-1 but with a full month left in the season, a few wins are still possible.

One thing this newcomer is learning is that every batter he faces “teaches me something about how to get these kinds of hitters out,” Anderson said. He added the batting orders he faces now as a professional player are a little more experienced from the ones he saw as a college player.

He said one lesson he has picked up on thus far is that “there aren’t a lot of easy outs. You’ve got to stay focused with each hitter.” The long term goal is, of course, to get into the minor league system in order to, some day, get to the majors. Anderson knows this is just the first step toward that goal.

The Denver, Colorado native called Normal “a good baseball town because the community here supports us, and you can’t ask for much more support than that. We get a pretty good showing in the stands and that makes coming out to the ball park fun.”

Anderson has lofty goals, not just for his playing days, but for when those days come to an end, regardless of when that might be. When his playing days are over, he explained, he would like to own his own bar and grill. The major he chose at Missouri was the first step to helping him move toward his dream.

Frontier League“I figured learning about Hospitality Management would be the route for getting into that,” Anderson said of his choice of major. He said it was just an idea that struck him growing up. “I like places where you can go in that have good atmosphere, you can go in and catch a ball game, eat some good food, and hang out.”

In praising Anderson, CornBelters Manager Brooks Carey said, “He was a lead-off hitter at Missouri. We knew he could swing the bat a little bit.” In fact, during his senior season, Anderson started in 47 of 48 games, and was the second-leading Tigers player with a .270 batting average in 189 at-bats. He led the team with three triples, and was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Week in April.

”He’s catching up on the pitching here,” Carey said. “He’s a strike-throwing machine who pitches around 90 miles per hour. So, he’s a really good pick up for us.”

Let’s just say Anderson knows he has another dream waiting for him when his playing days are done, but for now, with Normal, he’s looking forward to being inhospitable toward opponents as the CornBelters continue to battle for a playoff spot, as the last full month of the season gets started.

The ‘Belters will be in the midst of a three-game series against the Southern Illinois Miners at The Corn Crib on Thursday. The Miners will play here Friday, and be followed into town by the Rockford Aviators for a single 7p.m. game to face Normal on Saturday and 6p.m. doubleheader on Sunday. The team will have both Monday and Tuesday off before beginning a five-day, six-game road trip beginning with three games at Gateway starting Wednesday.

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