The baseball playing and coaching career of Paint Branch High School graduate Pat Anderson has taken him all over the country. This past winter, it brought him back to a hometown team.
Anderson, who was part of back-to-back state championship teams at Paint Branch in 1990 and ’91, joined the Washington Nationals this past December as the Rookie-Level Gulf Coast League Nationals manager, his first managerial position at the professional level, and it came on the heels of an offer to be a hitting instructor for a low Class-A affiliate of the New York Yankees.
“It was a tough decision at first but I’ve always wanted to manage and as soon as I got the job [Nationals assistant general manager] Bob Boone welcomed me,” said Anderson from Florida where he was knee-deep in Nationals Spring Training. “It is a family atmosphere. They hire within and move guys up from inside. They take care of their guys. Excitement is an understatement. This organization’s unbelievable. I grew up an Orioles fan but I’ve been seeing how the Nationals have flourished. My high school buddies are Nationals fans.”
The road to the Nationals organization began with an abrupt position change between his junior and senior seasons at Paint Branch. Not thrilled with the team’s catching prospects for the 1991 season, then Panthers coach Paul Fahrner told Anderson to start working at the position during the summer and be ready to play it the following spring.
“As a junior, he was my third baseman,” Fahrner said. “I wasn’t happy with the backup catcher who would be a senior [in 1991 so] I told him to catch as much as you can. He became pretty good as a catcher. He played independent minor league baseball as a catcher.”
Anderson, in fact, became an accomplished catcher, including being named to the prestigious Crown All-Star game following the conclusion of his senior campaign. He then earned all-conference honors at Brevard Junior College (N.C.) and at Mars Hill College (N.C.) before heading to the independent Frontier League, where he earned all-star recognition in 1995-97.
During his brief professional career, Anderson also began his tenure as coach at Gannon University in 1996 and 1997 and in the Frontier League as a player-coach in 1997. His coaching career also included serving as an assistant and recruiting coordinator at Hofstra University in New York from 1999-2001 before joining the Kansas City Royals organization as a hitting, catcher and outfielder instructor at the lower minor league level for eight years from 2001-08.
Anderson, who batted .287 with three homers, 19 doubles and 67 RBIs during his three-year minor league career, rejoined Hofstra as the head coach in 2009, where he compiled a 46-92-1 record during a three-year stint.
His latest assignment with the Nationals has him working with the franchise’s youngest players, helping them adjust to life in professional baseball among other things.
“That’s the biggest thing,” Anderson said. “A lot of the kids come from Latin America and it’s about understanding America and understanding how to live and play professional baseball day in and day out. We have to teach them how to be professionals and we work on fundamentals as much as possible. We try to acclimate them to what professional baseball is all about. It’s like going to college — you’re on your own but you’re getting paid for it. It’s a job.
“It’s a challenge; it’s a fun challenge. I’m really fortunate to get this job. This organization is off the charts.”
Anderson has been in Florida since mid-February and after a brief break following the conclusion of Spring Training, the Silver Spring native will remain at extended spring training to work with players and then welcome in even more in June with the First-Year Player Draft before opening Gulf Coast League play in mid-June.
Fahrner said Anderson got a taste of managing at the Major League level this spring, guiding a split squad contest against the St. Louis Cardinals, which was staffed most of its starters while Anderson’s Nationals were not as heavily staffed.
“He’s enjoying it,” Fahrner said. “He’s loving it. He’s just a great kid.”