Quick Chat: Ben Anderson – University of Georgia Athletics
By Jean Frierson
Three times this season, Georgia center fielder Ben Anderson started a Bulldogs baseball game with a home run. He was the first player in program history to do it on Opening Day, he did it once in Florida’s three-game sweep, and Anderson did it again last Tuesday night. during the 16-1 chokehold of the No. 16-ranked Bulldogs. Georgia State at Foley Field.
After hitting four homers throughout last season as an everyday center back, and none of 54 at bats during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Anderson has seven so far this spring. Anderson’s increase in power output — he also has four doubles, four triples and a .491 hitting percentage — hasn’t come at the expense of his primary role: getting down to base. He has a team-high 31 walks and is batting .288.
A graduate student from LaGrange, Ga., Anderson already has a degree in biochemistry and plans to go to medical school when he’s done with baseball. In a recent quick chat, he talked about home runs, drop-in music, baseball movies, superstitions, his interest in medicine and more. Here is part of what he had to say:
Frisian: How does it feel to start a game with a home run?
Anderson: As a leader, I feel like my role is to get to the bottom. I think a first home run is kind of the best thing you can do as a first hitter because you set the tone for your team and get a run in the first inning. That’s the goal, to score points, so if you can score a point on your own when you start the game, it just gives your team that much more positive momentum and energy to start the game. It’s awesome.
Frisian: When you’re a top hitter, do you think more about your base music? Do you think a lot about your walk-up music?
Anderson: I think about it – I think just listening to it relaxes me and focuses me on the bat. It allows me to concentrate, relax and prepare to start the match.
This season, I’m doing “Father Stretch My Hands” by Kanye West. I just like rhythm, rhythm, and that’s the music I like to listen to.
Frisian: What’s your favorite baseball movie?
Anderson: I like “The Rookie” – it’s a good one. It’s the one with Dennis Quaid and he’s coming back to the pitch after a long time. It’s a good one.
Frisian: Of all the sports, why does baseball seem to generate the most great movies?
Anderson: I think it’s because it’s a team sport and there’s this team camaraderie and stuff. I think you understand that by watching these movies. Not everyone feels this growing up, but once you see and feel it, you see how special it is.
Frisian: How are you in the kitchen — do you know how to cook?
Anderson: I can cook. I wouldn’t say I can cook a ton of stuff, but I’m good at cooking breakfast foods like eggs, bacon, pancakes. I’m a big pasta and grilled chicken guy, I love grilling chicken and having a past with it. It’s the main thing I know how to cook.
Frisian: It seems that baseball players tend to be more superstitious than other athletes – or at least we hear more about them being superstitious. are you superstitious? Is it a superstitious team?
Anderson: I would say there are definitely some superstitious guys on the team. I definitely have my superstitions: I tuck in my shoelaces the same way, me and Connor Tate at about some point before each game, we’re going to do our sprints together at the same time. We do two every time and it’s just our superstition before every game.
I think you find one or two things that every time you do them you play well or the team does well, and then you keep doing it. I think it kind of takes your mind off the repetition of so many games, and it’s fun.
Frisian: I know you graduated with a degree in biochemistry and plan to go to medical school after you finish playing baseball. When did you know you wanted to study medicine?
Anderson: I started thinking about it when I was growing up. My sister is older than me and she just graduated from medical school, and I kind of want to follow in her footsteps. My parents also had a few friends who were in the medical world and I heard them talking about their work. It just interested me when I was a kid and I thought it was something I wanted to do.
Frisian: Who was the first player you really looked up to and tried to emulate?
Anderson: When I was a kid, one of my best friends, we were both left-handed hitters and we were very fond of Ichiro Suzuki. He was the one I tried to emulate; also, growing up and being a Braves fan, Freddie Freeman was someone I really liked the way he hit and his approach to everything. Those are probably the two biggest influences on me.
(This Q&A has been lightly edited for length and clarity.)
Deputy director of sports communication Jean Frierson is the UGA Sports Team Writer and Curator of the ITA Men’s Tennis Hall of Fame. You can find his work at: Frierson Files. He is also on Twitter: @FrersonFiles and @ITAHallofFame.