One of the nicest guys on the face of the Earth left it way too soon last week.
Chances are most of you didn't know 77-year-old Duane Anderson of Santiago Township so I'll tell you a little about him.
He was anonymous, which was a great part of his charm. He was a farm boy from Santiago Township who attended a one-room school for grades 1-8, a school located just up the road from his parents' farm near the St. Francis River. His mother Helen was a farm wife and a country school teacher, his father Harold was a farmer who also "worked out" as they called it back then when a farmer supplemented his income with another job.
Duane, called "Red" by others and "Sam" by his town baseball team manager, came to Princeton High School in the fall of 1955 and was a 1959 graduate. In his junior year he was a starter on the fabled 1957 Princeton High School football team, a team dominated by seniors. But he was good enough to play on that team as a junior.
In the fall of 1958, during his senior year, I came home for the weekend from the school I was attending in Mankato so I could watch him play a football game. And he put on a show as a linebacker. I swear he was in on 75 percent of the tackles that night on the field located where Riverside Park is today. He'd make a tackle and then run up and down the defensive line before the next play, patting his teammates on the back and verbally encouraging them to make a play. He was ferocious.
Away from the field, however, he was a gentle person, always kind and considerate, always asking about others and how they were doing. But when the ball was snapped, his personality changed. He was as tough as they come.
More proof of that toughness: One night during a church softball game in the '50s at a lighted field in Foley, playing for Our Savior's Lutheran Church located near Santiago as a third baseman, he dove for a pop fly near the fence. When he got up his arm was bleeding heavily because, somehow, part of a broken pop bottle was imbedded in the ground. Blood dripping from his arm, he wanted to stay in the game. Finally convinced to go to the doctor, he got the wound sewed up, came back to the field and wanted to go back in the game. He was that tough.
In those days before it was politically incorrect to play tackle football without pads, we'd do that at recess during Saturday School (our church's replacement for Sunday School). The kids on the team opposite Duane would run out of bounds rather than get tackled by him, thus increasing their life expectancy. No one wanted that kind of contact.
We lived a mile and a half apart and in our grade school days I'd bike to his place on many occasions, often to watch the one major league baseball game each week that was on television on a Saturday afternoon. After the game was over, and after his mother had fed us some cake or cookies, we'd head to the Andersons' pasture along the St. Francis River and throw a baseball around, playing a game we made up of trying to throw it so far that the other couldn't catch it, meanwhile stepping around the cowpies that littered the ground. We had our own rules for that game as we tried to make each other back up.
In the fall we'd head to that same pasture and play a similar game with a football, throwing it or kicking it as we again tried to make our way around the cowpies that seemed to be everywhere. And on occasion in the winter we'd shoot a basketball at a rim, without a net, that was mounted on a corn crib, our mittened hands making it hard to dribble on the snow-covered ground, as well as making it hard to shoot. Duane's father watched us for a couple minutes one day as we played basketball outside in the winter, finally walking away, shaking his head at our foolishness. Old-time farmer that he was, he probably couldn't figure out why we wanted to bounce a ball on frozen ground and then shoot it at a metal ring with mittens on our hands.
We also played town team baseball together a couple years but later went our separate ways, he going off to the U.S. Army and me to college and, eventually, the Army. But we ended up back in the same area and continued our friendship, attending the same church and, as the years went by, sitting together in the same pew. He'd ask about my family, I'd ask about his, and we'd talk for awhile. He was a simple man, from a simple rural existence, and we'd occasionally talk about all the crazy things in the world, as well as Princeton High School athletics, the Twins and the Vikings. And we'd reminisce about the old days.
Last year he found out he had cancer and last week he died. The funeral is coming up in August and and I know some of us will talk about the old days of life in rural Sherburne County. We'll talk about Duane and what a gentle man he was. I guarantee no one will have a bad thing to say about him. Duane was a salt-of-the-earth guy, a throwback to simpler times. There wasn't a nicer guy on the planet.
Rest in peace, my man. You were the best.
Daily diary for the 2019 Twins
Saturday, July 6 — Four home runs, 20 hits (at least one by each starter) and six good innings by Martin Perez keyed a 15-6 win over Texas as the Twins had the kind of game that was routine a month ago. The crowd of more than 38,000 also saw the Twins go 8 for 16 with runners in scoring position.
Sunday, July 7 — Michael Pineda pitched six innings, gave up only one run and struck out nine as he made it look good that the Twins took a chance on signing him two years ago after Tommy John surgery. The score was 7-4 as the Twins blew a big lead before Taylor Rogers came in for a save that lasted for 2 1/3 innings. Miguel Sano, of all things, had a triple and Jason Castro drove in three runs in three different at-bats. The Twins can sweep Texas with a win tomorrow.
Monday, July 8 — There are some who maintain that one play does not win or lose a game. I'm not one of those. The bonehead base running play by Byron Buxton yesterday in the 11-inning 4-1 loss to Texas definitely cost Minnesota the win. With the score 1-1 in the fourth inning and Jonathon Schoop on third and Buxton on second with one out, Max Kepler hit a ball to center field for a sacrifice fly that would easily score Schoop with the go-ahead run. As Schoop sprinted for home, all of a sudden Buxton tagged up and broke for third base. He was tagged out before Schoop (not as fast as Buxton) reached home and therefore Schoop's potential run did not count. There was absolutely no reason to try to get to third - he was already in scoring position and the ball wasn't hit that deep. It was a playyou might see in Little League or in high school. The Twins would have won the game 2-1. Bothersome was that none of the announcers on radio or TV called Buxton out for a mistake that shouldn't be made by a major leaguer. Think I'm being too hard on him? Football announcers routinely tell us that a pass receiver should have caught a ball that hit him in both hands. And that would be a physical play, not a thinking (well, not in this case) play. And the loss sliced the 11-game division lead the team had a couple weeks ago to 5 1/2. Yes, as noted last week in this space, even the most ardent Twins fans would have said they'd take a lead that large at the All-Star break. On the other hand, if you had said in March that the team would have a large lead and then let half of it go so soon, you'd be disappointed.
Tuesday, July 9 — Cleveland has been on a 16-5 run since June 14 as it cut the Twins' lead from 11 games to 5 1/2. A look at the Indians' schedule during that time shows that they have had a favorable schedule. The Indians were 3-0 vs. Kansas City, 2-2 v.s Texas, 3-0 vs. Detroit again, 2-1 vs.Kansas City, 1-2 vs. the Orioles, 3-0 vs. Kansas City and 2-0 vs. Cincinnati. That equates to 11-1 vs. Detroit and Kansas City. But you still have to win the games. The Twins, 9-11 in their past 20, were only 4-3 vs. Kansas City, 1-2 vs. the White Sox and 1-2 vs. Oakland during that stretch.
Wednesday, July 10 — Jose Berrios (1 inning, 2 strikeouts) and Jorge Polanco (1 for 2, an RBI) did well in the American League's 4-3 win over the National League last night in the All-Star game. I wrote back in April that the baseballs being used this year have contributed greatly to the number of home runs being hit, citing the fact that in Triple A, where they were using MLB balls for the first time ever, home runs were up 49 percent in the first month of the season in those two leagues. Houston's Justin Verlander had his say on the subject a couple days ago, saying baseball leaders should be up front about saying the ball was different.. And now Jake Odorizzi of the Twins chimed in, saying that baseball leaders should admit the ball is different. Meanwhile, Commissioner Rob Manford says nothing has been done to change the baseball. He needs a lie detector test.
Thursday, July 11 — At the All-Star break the Twins have 56 wins and are on pace for 102 wins. They have 166 homers, most in the majors. They are 14-6 in one-run games, best in the major leagues. Their team ERA is 3.97, surprisingly fourth-best in the American League. Their record is fourth in the majors behind the Dodgers, Yankees and Astros. And they are averaging 3.79 pitches per at-bat, lowest in the majors, as they often swing at first pitches. The Twins are on pace to break the MLB record for homers in a season, set at 267 by the Yankees in 2018. Seattle, Milwaukee and the Yankees are also on pace to break the record, more proof that the ball is different this year, despite what the commissioner says.
Friday, July 12 — What did the Twins do wrong with Lance Lynn? You remember him — the free-agent pitcher the Twins signed last year after a career with St. Louis. He had 20 starts, a 7-8 record and a 5.10 ERA before being shipped off to the Yankees where he had a 3-2 record in 11 games. Now, with Texas in 2019, he is 12-4 with a 3.69 ERA after seven shutout innings over a good Astros team last night. He has won six in a row, including 8 shutout innings vs. Tampa Bay recently. There are about 20 ex-Twins in the majors, some doing well, some not so well. Who would have thought Lynn would be having the best season of any of them, along with Danny Santana at Texas after he was called up to replace an injured player and ended up staying in the majors? On another note, the Twins are in Cleveland tonight for the start of what has become an important series this early in the season. Kyle Gibson, Jake Odorizzi and Jose Berrios are going against the Indians' top three starters and Eddie Rosario is expected back in the lineup for the Twins after having a sprained ankle.
PRINCETON SPORTS MEMORIES
July 16 1959 - Golf team No. 9 consisting of Lou Hoffman, Mason Peterson, Phil Keen, W. Shumacher, Lew Opheim, C. Kermeen and Conrad Schmid won the Tuesday competition in the men's league. "Children not playing golf are again warned to keep off the course in the afternoon," read the story in the Princeton Union.
July 16, 1964 - Terry Erickson struck out 18 for Princeton in a 10-9 win over Santiago in a town team game . . . Erickson, Bob Nick, Steve Lindell and Rollie Benson were chosen for the Independent Central League all-star game . . . The Legion team finished 10-0 in league play and won the league title for the second straight year.
July 16, 1969 - Tom Enger struck out 13 in an 18-5 town team win over Zimmreman as Dale Thiel had six hits . . . Ron Deglmann pitched a 3-hitter in an 8-0 shutout over Milaca's Legion team, and he struck out 14 and also had a 3-hitter in a 4-1 win over Cambridge.
July 17, 1974 - Jerry Bergeron and George Sanford each drove in four runs in a 24-4 town team win over Milaca . . . The Legion team lost 1-0 to Marble after beating Ely, 4-0, and Babbitt, 3-0, in the Marble tournament. Dave Mingo and Pete Steinhagen threw the shutouts.
July 19, 1979 - The Princeton Legion team beat Omaha, Neb., and Windom in a tournament in Sioux Falls but lost lost 9-2 to White Bear Lake in the title game. Mark Tadych beatSioux Fallsand Lester Nelson, who also hit a grand-slam homer, beat Windom . . . Tom Wolcyn pitched a 1-0 shutout over Cambridge for the town team and Dave Mingo drove in the only run . . . Rick Janssen pitched a no-hitter for Ziggy's over Crystal Green in a city league slow-pitch softball game.
July 19, 1984 - The Princeton town team (not yet named Panthers) split with the St. Cloud Saints (22-3 record, with major leaguer Jim Eisenreich in the lineup) at Princeton, winning 8-7 as Steve Kapsner, Curt Jenson and Luther Dorr homered, and losing 8-7 . . . Tim Vagle had two wins and David Fischer one as the Legion team clinched a title tie for the North End title.
July 20, 1989 - Skeeter Lane, manager at Rum River Golf Club, got a hole in one at No. 6 . . . Simon Thielen upped his record to 6-2 with a 7-3 win for the Princeton Panthers over the Forest Lake Brewers . . . Dan Olson (.308) was leading the Legion team in hitting as it made a bid for the top spot in the North End League.
July 21, 1994 - A Sandy Koufax team (eighth-graders) headed to the state tournament after finishing second in league playoffs . . . Jamie Cox and Jason Miller combined for a 2-0 shutout of Pine City for the Princeton Panthers, and then Troy Kinney beat St. Francis 10-4 as Rod Gohman and Brian Dorr each had there hits, Dorr hitting his eighth homer.
July 15, 1999 - The Legion team beat Elk River 11-4 in the local tournament as Eric Deglman (10 strikeouts) got the win and Brent Julson drove in five runs. The team lost 1-0 to Centennial and 5-4 to Grand Rapids . . . The Princeton Panthers (18-2) beat Quamba 22-4 as Tony Stay, Mark Beattie and Brian Dorr (two) all homered; beat Elk River 13-8 as Dorr homered; and then beat Isanti 7-0 behind a 4-hitter from Jason Miller (6-0, 1.86) as he homered and drove in four runs, while Chad Carling had four hits and Dorr (No. 13) homered for the fourth straight game. It was the 19th straight game in which the team hit a home run, with a total of 44 for the season
July 22, 2004 - Princeton beat Cambridge 6-0 in the Princeton Legion tournament but lost 17-2 to Tri-City Red and 10-0 to Apple Valley. Moorhead won the tournament . . .The Princeton Panthers (19-5), on a 16-1 streak, beat Chisago Lakes 7-4 and Isanti 6-2 as Chad Carling extended his hitting streak to 21. Tony Stay and Jesse Zimmer had back-to-back homers against Chisago Lakes and Zimmer drove in three runs in the Isanti game.
July 23, 2009 - The Legion season ended with playoff losses of 4-2 and 9-1 to Mora after Princeton had beaten Mora 10-3 in the first game behind Brent Miodus, who also drove in three runs, while Josh Vickers and Tanner Neubauer each drove in two . . . The Princeton Panthers beat Hinckley 10-1 as Joe Swanson got the win and Jake Maros drove in three runs.
July 17, 2014 - Nick Zeroth hit a three-run walk-off homer with two outs in the final inning for a 7-6 win over Cambridge in Legion baseball . . . The 45th Princeton American Legion Baseball Tournament was to begin, Princeton playing Cloquet in a first-round game.
Dorr is the former editor of the Princeton Eagle (2 years) and Princeton Union-Eagle (31 years), and has covered sports in the Princeton area for 52 years.