Date and Place of Birth: January 9, 1918 Maple City, Kansas
Died: March 12, 1978 Joplin, Missouri
Rank: Master Sergeant
Military Unit: 1864th Army Service Forces US Army
Area Served: United States
Major League Stats: Ferrell Anderson on Baseball-Almanac
As a young boy Anderson hurt the optic nerve of his left eye in a fall and had to tilt his head to the right to enable him to see straight. However, the disability and neck tilting – which remained with him throughout his life - did not hinder his athletic ability and he attended the University of Kansas on a football scholarship. Anderson was an all-conference tackle and captained the team his senior year receiving three offers to play professional football. But he also caught for the Jayhawks baseball team and played in the semi-pro tournament at Topeka, Kansas, where he was scouted by Bill Essick of the New York Yankees.
The 6-foot-1 catcher began playing with the Joplin Miners in the Class C Western League in 1939 and batted .329. He was with Norfolk and Akron in 1940 and was at Hagerstown in 1941. But Anderson was disillusioned with the Yankees’ organization, feeling he had no opportunity to progress, and was sold to the Brooklyn Dodgers in the winter of 1941.
The Dodgers assigned Anderson to the Montreal Royals in the International League but he was classified 1A in the draft and was not allowed to leave the United States to play in Canada. Instead, he was assigned to the Durham Bulls in the Class B Piedmont League.
On July 31, 1942, Anderson was drafted by the Army at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Following basic training he was assigned to the Fort Sill Field Artillery Replacement Training Center in Oklahoma, where he was player-manager with the 1864th ASF baseball team and coached the football team. In 1945, Master-Sergeant Anderson finished second in the 15-team Fort Sill baseball league batting race with a .471 average. Bill Broome of the Rochester Red Wings led the league at .480.
“On my discharge from the Army in November,” he told The Sporting News on May 2, 1946, “I tipped the scales at 245. That would be alright for a circus clown, but I take my baseball seriously.” Anderson did a lot of running and officiated high school basketball games in and around his hometown of Joplin, Missouri to get his weight back to 198 pounds.
The 28 year-old had an impressive spring training with the Dodgers in 1946 and remained with the club for the season, making his major league debut on April 16, 1946. He appeared in 79 games and bated .256.
Anderson was back in the minors in 1947 and played with the Fort Worth Cats in the Texas League. Between 1948 and 1950 he played for the St Paul Saints of the American Association.
The Dodgers sold Anderson to the Phillies in 1951 and he played for the Baltimore Orioles in the International League until he was sold to the St Louis Browns’ organization in June of that year, joining Toronto, also in the International League. He remained with Toronto until acquired by the St Louis Cardinals’ organization in April 1953 and assigned to the Rochester Red Wings.
Anderson didn’t stay long with the Red Wings because he received an unexpected call from the Cardinals in May. At 35, seven years after his previous major league appearance, Ferrell Anderson joined the catching staff of the St Louis Cardinals batting .286 in 18 games.
Anderson was philosophic about his baseball career at the time. “I’m really a minor leaguer. And it isn’t too bad, believe me. It’s better to be playing every day than sitting on a major league bench. And I’ve earned more money than major league bench sitters.”
He went on to manage in the Cardinals’ organization for a couple of seasons with the Omaha Cardinals in the Class A Western League and the Columbus Cardinals in the Class A South Atlantic League before retiring from baseball in 1955 to go in to the insurance business.
Ferrell Anderson passed away on March 12, 1978 in Joplin, Missouri. He was 60 years old.
Created July 22, 2007.
Thanks to Bob Stephenson for the photo.
Copyright © 2015 Gary Bedingfield (Baseball in Wartime). All Rights Reserved.