Bill Anderson Jr. was a dominant force on the pitcher’s mound before injuries derailed his promising baseball career.
His passion for baseball continued, however, as he spent many more years coaching young players in the sport he loved.
Anderson died suddenly at his home on May 13. He was 49.
The record-setting former Queensbury star was remembered this week for his remarkable pitching talents and his ability to coach young players.
“It’s just a shame,” said former Queensbury High School baseball coach Jay Marra, who coached Anderson in high school. “He was a good guy, a good man and a good father.”
Anderson left behind a son, Kolby, a junior at Queensbury; his fiancee and partner Kelly Edwards; and five stepchildren, Aaron, Nate, Abby, Noah and Asa.
As a high school player, Bill Anderson was regarded as untouchable — one of the dominant pitchers of his day. The right-hander led Queensbury to a Section II championship as a junior in 1988, outdueling Gloversville’s Chris Ciaccio 1-0 in the Class B title game.
“He was just outstanding,” Marra said. “We used to call the games he pitched ‘rocking chair games,’ because you could just sit back and watch him throw. All we needed to do was score one run.”
Anderson’s 1988 season at Queensbury was the stuff of high school legend: a 12-0 record with three no-hitters, including one perfect game with 19 strikeouts against Johnstown. He racked up 140 strikeouts and just nine walks in 85 innings pitched — a state record — and did not allow a single earned run.
“All of the competition was trying to get a run off of him,” Marra said. “For a high school player to throw as hard as he did with the accuracy he had is truly remarkable. He was in the low-90s with pinpoint accuracy.”
Current Queensbury baseball coach Jason Gutheil, a South Glens Falls graduate, first faced Anderson the summer after his freshman year, in American Legion ball.
“He wasn’t a big guy — Billy wasn’t more than 160, 170 (pounds) — but he was throwing 90 miles an hour,” Gutheil said. “He had a great fastball, great curveball. As a young player, my eyes were opened to his ability.”
“He was a very competitive kid,” Marra recalled. “The only thing I had to get on him about was, if something didn’t go right, he would get down on himself. He was a dream to coach.”
A three-sport standout — he played quarterback in football and guard in basketball — Anderson went on to play NCAA Division I baseball at George Washington University.
However, Anderson’s elbow problems began. Three surgeries caused him to miss two whole seasons before he enjoyed an All-Atlantic 10 Conference season as a fifth-year senior in 1994.
That success extended to his first season in the minor leagues with the San Diego Padres’ organization. Anderson, who filled out to 6 feet and 190 pounds, was the Class A California League World Series MVP as he led the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes to the 1994 championship.
However, Anderson’s arm problems persisted. Three more surgeries, more time missed. Still a Padres farmhand, he reached Class AA with the Mobile BayBears, but after six minor-league seasons, he hung up his cleats for good. According to baseball-reference.com, Anderson finished his minor-league career with a 24-6 record and a 3.80 ERA.
Several years later, Anderson returned to baseball and spent many years as a youth coach. He coached his son, Kolby, and stepsons, Noah and Asa Edwards, among many others, including former Queensbury standout Brett Rodriguez. Anderson coached the Upstate Warriors travel team, and was also a private pitching coach.
“He did a good job with the kids, he was a big asset to our program,” Marra said.
“He came to do a number of sessions with our kids over the years,” Gutheil said. “His baseball knowledge was tremendous, and he was able to break down things so kids can understand. He was a great ambassador for baseball with young kids.”
Follow Pete Tobey on Twitter @PTobeyPSVarsity.
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