Book review leads to Stanton’s Swedish Pirate

I am an avid reader, so the cancellation of spring sports and postponement of summber ball enabled me to read 16 books in 18 days. One of those was The Wax Pack by Brad Balukjian.
The premise of the book is, Balukjian opens an unopened pack of baseball cards from 1986, in 2015. These packs of 15 cards and sugary gum were a baseball fan’s delight (including yours truly) and held hopes of getting the “right” card.
As baseball card collecting took hold in my family, I wrote my name on the back of most cards to ensure my brothers did not take any I deemed valuable.
After opening his wax pack, Balukjian journeys across the states on a summer road trip in hopes of finding each player from the pack and learning about him and his life after baseball. His writing has the reader riding shot-gun learning about the author’s life as well as the players’. The trip was too fast as I found myself cheering Balukjian on and hoping for a better outcome in some instances.
As I finished the book, I immediately wanted to go through my own card collection, as well as tell the story of Danny Anderson, a Stanton baseball player and a card himself.
Danny Stanton Anderson was a true Stanton-ite. He was born and raised in Stanton, graduating from the high school in 1951. According to the Stanton Viking weekly newspaper, “Upon high school graduation, scouts from three teams were waiting on his porch. He signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates.”
Growing up in Stanton myself, I had heard about the town team, knew Anderson had played in the minors, and remember the time when Baseball Day was held at Anderson Park that was so crowded with activities, people, and car give-aways, that as a young girl I just knew the day was important. As a young girl, Anderson was the type of “old guy” who gave me a fifty cent piece so I could go to the cafe and get an ice cream cone. To hear that he was the same guy who played in the minors made me laugh, because I could not picture him as ever being a young kid; he was older than my dad! Fast forward to adult me and finally getting brave enough to ask Anderson about his days traveling with the farm teams of the Pirates, and his face would light up every time. However, he never really told me anything. He always told me what a great opportunity it was for a small town kid to get paid to do what he loved: play baseball. He got to travel, meet people, and experience life when it was a much simpler time, and it was something he was truly grateful for. But when I would ask for a story about a game or an incident or a “famous” person he had met, he would always put me off by saying, “Oh, that was a long time ago. I’m not going to bore you with that.”
And looking back, I regret never digging into that. So, I took this opportunity, fueled by the pandemic and my latest read, to research the Stanton papers and get some answers.
The Stanton Zephyr reported on May 15, 1947, “Before the high school baseball game, Danny Anderson was presented with a trophy bearing signatures of players, a wristwatch, and a season pass to all home games on behalf of the team. Anderson (age 13) was a bat boy for the team and was in a cast being treated for a bone disease (oscaslatis). As an eighth grader he was told no running or sports until he was at least 18 due to the rare bone disease.” The opening day was renamed Danny Anderson Day in his honor.
The love of baseball went deeper than the pain of the bone disease, and Anderson attended the Chicago Cubs School in Des Moines in July of ’48 for a baseball tryout camp. While there, he learned pitching tips from Ray Prim, a former Cubs pitching ace. After showing great skill and ability at the camp, he was asked to return for another session.
The following year, Anderson played on the town team, and went 8-4 from the mound as a 15-year old, and the paper referred to him as “the most talked about thing of the games.”
After signing with the Pittsburgh Pirates, at a bonus price of $6,000, Anderson spent the summer of ’51 in action with the Bartelsville Pirates at Bartelsville, Okla., a farm club of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the K-O-M (Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri) league (a Class D team).
According to an article from the Stanton Viking in the fall of 1951, the members of the Pirates farm teams were given $2.25 for daily expenses as well as a hotel room while on the road. Anderson said, “The experience and training was worth every cent of it.”
Anderson played 19 games the first season and finished with 131 innings pitched, going 9-4. He gave up 99 hits and 53 runs (40 earned), while walking 56 and serving up 95 strikeouts. He ended with a 2.75 ERA and 1.183 WHIP.
He was interviewed for the Stanton Viking in September on a visit home.
“No one in Stanton ever needs to worry about me quitting the leagues. I’ve got an awfully long way to go, but they’ll have to release me to get rid of me. If a minor leaguer ever quits, he’s banned for life for ever playing in organized ball again. I’ve got lots to learn yet, and plenty of time. If I should flop and they send me home, okay. But otherwise, I’ll still be plugging.”
Anderson was one of six men from Bartelsville chosen for fall training at Deland, Fla. Once that was completed, he would continue spring training in Waco, Texas with the Class B East Texas league team.
The Bartlesville Pirates earned the league championship in 1952, led by Anderson’s pitching, or ‘Stanton’s diamond ace.’
In March of 1952, Anderson received word that he would train with the Class AA New Orleans Pelicans instead of the Waco Class B team, an upgrade in the minor league because of his excellent record.
However, on June 19, Anderson injured his throwing elbow and the Pirates sent him to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and later to a specialist in Pittsburgh. Neither place had a doctor that could repair the arm. In July he moved to Modesto, Calif., to work with the Class C farm team. He had just had his tonsils removed and was still recovering from his elbow injury.
He moved around in the season of ’52, playing in Waco, Hutchison, Kan., Mayfield, Ken., and Modesto.
He played 15 games his second year in the minors, starting for seven, and pitched 85 innings. He gave up 89 hits and 60 runs (42 earned), while walking 56. He ended with a 3-4 record, 4.45 ERA, and 1.1706 WHIP.
Although his talent was definitely on the mound, he did finish his career totaling 24 hits including three doubles.
He headed to Modesto for the 1953 season, but in July, Anderson took a 60-day volunteer retirement from the Pittsburgh Pirates ball club and returned to Stanton.
During that time, he pitched for the Stanton town team. In the July 16 game against Elliott, he pitched for 6 1/3 innings. The Stanton Viking reported, “In the first four innings, Anderson looked like a million dollars. He fanned nine of the first 12 batters to face him and in the third frame, struck out three batters in nine straight strikes. But in the sixth inning, Anderson’s sore arm began to weaken. He walked three men and gave up one hit. The score was 21-4 when the seventh inning rolled around and Anderson threw 19 straight balls before fanning Welsch. Anderson wanted to leave the game earlier, but there was no replacement available.”
Anderson joined the Army and played for the team. He married Iola Brumsted in 1954, and in May of 1956, the family headed to Wauseca, Minn., so Anderson could play in the Southern Minnesota State loop for the Owatoona-Wauseca team. He was listed on the Pirates voluntary retired list at this time.
  The family moved back to Stanton in August of ’56, where they raised four children: Shelley, Kerry, Mickey, and Jamie. Anderson passed away in 2014.
Although I have no baseball card of Danny Anderson, and he did so much more than just play ball, he is the “right” card from my childhood baseball collecting days.

The Red Oak Express

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P.O. Box 377
Red Oak, IA 51566
Phone: 712-623-2566 Fax: 712-623-2568

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