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Anderson's simple catch a match for his homers


Brady Anderson jogged off the field after the fifth inning.

He already had hit two home runs on the night that the player who has taught him the most about baseball, a player who is one of Anderson's closest friends, achieved a milestone.

The home runs didn't matter. What mattered as Anderson jogged off the field was the ball in his glove.

Game No. 2,130 was official, and Anderson had made the inning's final putout.

"I didn't realize at the time I had the ball in my glove," Anderson said.

He discovered the ball when he got to the dugout. Then the music began to play. The fans cheered. The numbers lit up and came down.

"It was really nice to able to enjoy yourself through somebody else's accomplishment," Anderson said. "You don't get to do that very often."

This wasn't just any person. This was Anderson's role model, his idol, if you will. In 1992, Anderson's first full season as an Orioles regular, Ripken showed him the virtues of playing every day.

Anderson went into the trainer's room one afternoon, having missed a game because of a pinched nerve in his neck. He thought about missing another.

Trainer Jamie Reed said: "You don't think Cal ever had a sore neck?"

Anderson played.

"I basically found out starting in 1992 the season's a grind, and I have to grind it out," Anderson said. "Cal's a grinder, too."

Last night, Anderson's second-inning, bases-empty shot was the fourth homer of the inning. His second homer also came with the bases empty, with one out in the fourth.

It was Anderson's way of saying thanks.

"It was nice to do it, to help him win on his day," said Anderson, who also doubled to right.

It was Ripken's day. But it was Anderson's ball.

He had it tucked away in the duffel bag by his locker. Anderson treated it like his most prized possession.

"This is cool," he said as he rolled the orange-stitched ball between his fingers. Then he put it back into the bag.

The bat he used to hit his home runs was nearby. Anderson is not a collector, but those two mementos had symbolic value.

The ball that Anderson didn't realize was in his glove is part of his bond with Ripken. It's not something he plans on giving up.

"It was already in my glove," he said. "I wasn't going to throw it out."

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