With a Player of the Month caliber April behind him, Tim Anderson ventures into May, and before long he will reminisce and feel very sad.
But no longer will be overwhelmed.
It was two years ago May 7 when Anderson’s best friend, Branden Moss, the 23-year-old godfather of his oldest daughter, was shot and killed while coming to the aid of an assault victim in a bar parking lot in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Anderson was cut to his very core, so saddened and troubled it affected his sleep, his mood and his play during his first first full season as the White Sox shortstop.
“It whupped me up real bad,’’ Anderson said. “It took me to a very dark spot I’d never been.’’
It took more than a few months to sort through so much anger, pain and confusion stemming from senseless tragedy and loss. But Anderson emerged from it with a clearer view of life’s big picture, and a toughness he says made him a better, stronger man equipped to confront just about anything life throws his way.
“Things happen,” he said. “You find out you just have to have an understanding of life, and I think I got that now.’’
Counseling helped Anderson sort it all out and find some peace. A 25-year-old married father of two, Anderson remains close to Moss’ family, is the godfather of Moss’ daughter and pays tribute to Moss’ memory in numerous ways, writing Moss’ name on his spikes and wearing “BMoss” instead of a personal nickname on the back of his jersey on Players Weekend, to name just two.
When Anderson points to the sky after hitting a home run, it’s Moss he’s reconnecting with.
“It was a dark moment, and it’s a tough thing to talk about, and even tougher thing to get over,” Anderson said. “It taught me to move on, and when I got to the point of being able to move on and understand what the ultimate goal was in life, things got a lot better.’’
Weeks before the tragedy, Anderson was on top of the world after signing a six-year, $25 million contract, a deal with two club options through 2024 that can bring the deal’s value to $50.5 million.
Anderson called it “life changing.” What he didn’t know was another life altering event awaited him, this one much tougher to sort out.
“He was a friend who was there from the start,’’ Anderson said. “We were real close, and it got right up under me, and it hit me out of the blue. It’s tough but it’s something I dealt with, and I’m kind of happy I dealt with that because I feel like now nothing can bother me, no matter what the situation is.”
While enjoying a blistering offensive start — the Sox’ postponed game on the last day of April Tuesday leaves him with a .375/.394/.615 hitting line, six homers and 10 stolen bases in 10 attempts — Anderson has become the center of attention on the field and in the clubhouse. He staked his claim to his shortstop position while Manny Machado courted by the Sox and declared he was more than fine with Machado signing elsewhere during spring training.
“Ride with us or get run over,” he said.
His bat flip after a home run against the Royals triggered a retaliation, bench clearing incident, an ejection, fine, suspension and a lot of discussion about how players should act. Through the aftermatch of it all, Anderson demonstrated maturity, poise and grace under fire.
“He’s just maturing and growing,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He’s in a place where he knows who he is. He knows how to go about his business.”
Knowing where you’ve been and making sense of the dark places certainly helps.
“Nothing can really knock me off my stool,” he said. “We go through things and sometimes it’s for the better. Most times it’s for the better.’’
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