Sunday around bedtime I received a Facebook post from friend Jon Anderson. His dad, Jarvis Anderson, had been honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Rochester Amateur Sports Commission for 49 years of teaching and coaching baseball to thousands of kids and young adults in and around Plainview, MN. I was one of those kids. Starting as a 7-year-old in T-ball in the summer of ’68, through 12 springs and summers of Peewees, Midgets, high school and American Legion baseball, there was one constant…a single coach and teacher, Jarvis Anderson. I doubt there’s any kid anywhere who has played 12 years of baseball for a single coach, except of course the hundreds of Plainview kids over nearly five decades who all learned the game from Jarvis.
I was on many teams with outstanding players, and we won more than we lost. Jon Marshman made hitting, running and playing shortstop look effortless. Mark Bodurtha showed me you win as many games with your head as you do your arms and legs. Twins Bill and Bruce Kruger grew up maybe 200 yards from the ball field. They could run, hit, field and throw with the best, but were even better leaders. David Arnett brought style, sass and speed. Ed Jacobs brought heart. And Brent Wohlers was simply the best athlete and competitor I ever played with. There were also guys like my best buddy Jerry Anderson, Steve Mueller, Roger Timm, and me, who had more moxy than skills. There were many more, too many to name, but what we ALL had in common was knowledge of the game of baseball. Regardless of skill level, we and countless players over 49 years all learned to play the game the “right way” from one man, Jarvis Anderson.
I was a minimally talented member of Jarvis’ 1978 PHS State Champions. We were a long-haired, high energy and rebellious bunch, and I think we tested his patience and tolerance more than we should have. I suspect both we and he were going through a lot of changes that year, and not necessarily in the same direction. However, we found common ground and pulled it together. The summer of ’79 we had another kind of team all together. We had one real player (Dan Moore, a splendid athlete from Elgin), some scrappers playing our last months of organized ball, and a bunch of kids not old enough to shave. We lost a lot, and often big. But we kept digging, and somehow caught fire in the tournament upsetting teams a lot better than us, and winning our Sub District playing Jarvis’ brand of “small ball”.
There were other teams before and after my meager tenure that won more than they lost. Through it all was one guy who taught us all how to play the game the right way, and along the way how to play life the right way. All those great players, and the many not-so-great players like me, owe Jarvis a lot. None of us ended up perfect, but we won more than we lost.