08/19/08 7:17 PM ET
Anderson slugging since turning 36
Outfielder shares June 30 birthday with other athletic stars
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
Garret Anderson turned 36 on June 30, a birthday he shares with two other world-class athletes: former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson and current ruler of Planet Sport, Michael Phelps.
"It is interesting -- kind of incredible, really," Anderson said. "There's another one, too -- Buddy Black, our old pitching coach [now managing the Padres]. We used to talk about it every year when he was here.
"In a lot of ways, it doesn't mean anything. I'm not really into [astrology], but it is interesting to think about."
The trait he shares with Phelps and Tyson, Anderson agreed, is a refusal to let others alter or dictate his focus and direction.
"Phelps took it all the way to the top, beyond what others believed possible," Anderson said. "Tyson banged his way to the top, from a rough youth [in Brooklyn]. I'll probably be the last one to know I can't play anymore."
It is years down the road, and he'd need good health and luck, but Anderson has a shot at 3,000 career hits and the virtually automatic Hall of Fame selection that distinction brings. Through Monday, he was at 2,330 hits, with the meter still running. He'd likely need to play at least four seasons after this one to collect the necessary 670, which would take him into his 40s.
Paul Molitor and Eddie Murray used the designated hitter to prolong their careers and push beyond 3,000 hits. Showing with his current 21-game hitting streak and scalding second half that he's lost none of his remarkable bat speed, Anderson could take a serious run at it -- if that's what he chooses to do.
"You have to have your own mind -- whether it's the truth or not," he said. "You have to take that frame of mind that you're going to accomplish what you set out to accomplish.
"It's like with [Brett] Favre. You earn that right to call your own shot. He can still do it. Why should you stop doing what you love to do?"
Anderson, as understated as an athlete can be, lives at the opposite end of the personality spectrum from Tyson. The Angels' left fielder/DH has confined his hard hitting to the batter's box. Like Phelps in the swimming pool, he's been on a serious roll.
Since flipping the calendar after his birthday, Anderson is batting a robust .359 with seven homers and 33 RBIs in 36 games. The franchise leader in most of the important offensive departments, his hitting streak entering Tuesday night's game against the Rays was the second longest of his career and third best of the year in the American League. His 28-game streak in 1998 is the club record and one of his proudest achievements.
Anderson is making his hits count, too. His .354 average with runners in scoring position is fifth best in the AL.
"Just doing what I do," he said, grinning.
And what, at 36, he still loves to do.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.