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Tim Crothers
June 02, 1997
A 6'10" schoolboy has Randy Johnson beat The Tribe's Justice will not be denied Vaughn and the Padres hit bottom
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June 02, 1997

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A 6'10" schoolboy has Randy Johnson beat The Tribe's Justice will not be denied Vaughn and the Padres hit bottom

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No Kings of Interleague Swing
When regular-season interleague play begins on June 12, the designated hitter will be used in games played at American League stadiums and pitchers will bat in games at National League parks. The last 10 World Series have been contested under the same rules, but during that time there has been very little cumulative difference between the leagues in the batting performance of either pitchers or DHs.

PITCHERS BATTING

TEAM

AVG.

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

SO

AL

.081

62

3

5

2

O

o

3

3

29

NL

.158

57

4

9

2

O

o

2

3

23

DESIGNATED HITTERS

AL

.239

113

14

27

5

1

5

17

9

20

NL

.225

111

14

25

2

O

5

18

10

18

Source: Elias Sports Bureau

Units united on April 17 in the visitors clubhouse at Tiger Stadium. Randy Johnson, the Big Unit, met Ryan Anderson, the Young Unit, in what is believed to be the only possible summit of two 6'10" left-handed earthlings who can throw a baseball 95 mph. Anderson, a senior pitcher at aptly named Divine Child High in Dearborn, Mich., had his picture snapped with Johnson, and then the towering twosome talked for 20 minutes. "Randy told me about how a pitcher who is tall and lefty has some great advantages, and I stammered a lot," Anderson says. "It was a huge thrill to be around my baseball idol, the guy I've patterned myself after."

Anderson, the Major League Scouting Bureau's top-ranked high school prospect entering the June 3-5 amateur draft, looks like a carbon copy of his mentor. By studying the Mariners ace at work, Anderson has adopted Johnson's windup and other mechanics. He wears Johnson's uniform number 51, and he throws gas that has become legendary in southwestern Michigan. So much so that when Anderson arrived at Carleton Airport High in April for his season opener, he was greeted by two Carleton coaches brandishing baseballs and asking for his autograph.

Through Sunday, Anderson was 4-2 with two saves and a 0.79 ERA this season. Playing in a 3-2 league (three balls for a walk, two strikes for a strikeout) with seven-inning games, Anderson had pitched 44⅓ innings and allowed just seven hits, walking 28 and striking out 118. "Ryan is just an overpowering force on the mound," says Divine Child coach Greg Green. "You realize how special he is when the opposing crowd cheers wildly anytime a batter gets a piece of the ball."

On May 9, with Detroit owner Mike Hitch and general manager Randy Smith in attendance, Anderson threw a no-hitter and got all 21 outs on strikeouts. Only twice did a batter muster so much as a foul tip. "Because of his height and his fastball, you can't help but think of Randy Johnson when you watch him," says Smith, who has scouted Anderson in three games. "He is unusual because most high school kids his size have trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time, but Ryan is polished and has good control. He pitches more like a 6'3" guy."

The Tigers own the first choice in the draft, and Smith admits that Anderson is among a half dozen possible selections. There will be pressure from fans in the Motor City to draft Anderson, who lives less than 20 miles from Tiger Stadium. "I believe he will be drafted first by the Tigers, and I'll be very disappointed if he's not," says Anderson's father, Gus, who was born and raised outside Lansing and at one point had attended 21 straight Tigers home openers. "I know Ryan badly wants to be a Tiger."

If Anderson goes first in the draft, he might command the same $2 million signing bonus that the Pirates paid Clemson pitcher Kris Benson, the top pick last June. Asked what a 17-year-old might do with all that loot, Anderson shows that he also has the flakiness commonly attributed to southpaws. "I'd like to own a zoo," says Anderson, who already tends to eight pets—a cat, a dog, a bird, two turtles, two fish and a hedgehog named Cyril. "But first I'd like to pitch in the World Series."

Hanging in There

As a public service for those fans fortunate enough not to have witnessed it, we present the pitch-by-pitch report of a monumental at bat by the Royals' Bip Roberts against Tigers righthander Felipe Lira on May 18. There was one out, and Tom Goodwin was on first base in the bottom of the first inning.

Lira's first pitch to Roberts is fouled off. Called strike two. Pitchout, but Goodwin is not running. Foul ball. Foul ball. Foul ball. Foul ball. Foul ball. Foul ball. Foul ball. Foul ball. Foul ball. Foul ball. Pitchout, but Goodwin steals second anyway. Foul ball. Foul ball. Foul ball. Groundout to second base.

"I didn't know what to throw anymore," Lira said later. "I kept throwing all my pitches, and he kept hitting foul balls."

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