Baseball reporters Bruce Anderson and Ivan Maisel came to us from the same farm club, Stanford University (which also sent us Associate Writer Sarah Pileggi and Writer-Reporter Jill Lieber).
Anderson, class of '79, bats right, throws right and writes left, and had a .308 average as a backup catcher/outfielder in his senior year in high school. We got him from The Miami Herald's Palm Beach and Broward County bureaus a little over two years ago. "Actually," he says, "I skipped out of my contract." Anderson, 26, spent last week on SI's American League traveling squad in Anaheim and Milwaukee.
Maisel, class of '81, bats, throws and writes left. "The only thing I do right-handed is shoot pool," he says. A 22-year-old rookie first baseman/pitcher, acquired nine months ago from The Atlanta Constitution, Maisel had a .689 batting average as a Peewee League phenom. He was Anderson's counterpart in the National League last week.
Five years ago Anderson and Maisel were batting one-two for The Stanford Daily. Anderson, then a junior, was the sports editor, and Maisel was an eager freshman willing to take a swing at any story sent his way.
Baseball was another bond. "We both had more lowlights than highlights," says Anderson, who grew up in the self-proclaimed Earthquake Capital of the World, Hollister, Calif., but he has the distinction of robbing Toronto Blue Jays' ace righthander, Dave Stieb, of extra bases in Stieb's last high school outing, the consolation game of the Central Coast Section Championships.
"The first time up to bat against us [the Hollister Haybalers], he hit it to the fence and the ball was caught at the track. The next two times he hit it out of the stadium. The coach put me in left, and I was still trying to find the warning track when Stieb hit it right at me. I backpedaled, threw the glove up and caught the ball."
Maisel was born in Mobile, Ala., birthplace of, among others, the Aaron brothers, Willie McCovey and Amos Otis. He learned to read at three when the housekeeper, Rosa Lee Caldwell, sat him on her knee with a copy of The Sporting News. Thus began an obsession with sports. Maisel announced make-believe Atlanta Braves games in the shower; faked a problem with his contact lens so he could be excused from a ninth-grade class to sneak a transistor into the bathroom and listen to Hank Aaron hit his 714th home run; wrote letters every year to pro and college teams all over the country, requesting autographed pictures and whatever else was going; collected 100-odd sports books, including Bobby Jones's autographed autobiography, and a complete collection of the 1973 edition of 7-Eleven Slurpee baseball drinking cups. "I looked all over Mobile County for a Hank Aaron cup," Maisel says. "Drank Slurpees for three weeks straight, three times a day."
A neighbor who had a Hank Aaron cup took pity on Maisel and gave it to him, but "Hank's face was green," Maisel says. "Poor quality cup." Maisel's face was, and still is, pink. Good quality stomach.