What is the antithesis of a prima donna in college athletics? Whatever it is, the poster boy could be Lake Oswego graduate and Oregon State outfielder Jack Anderson.
Anderson, a redshirt junior who plays right field for the Oregon State baseball team, has impressed just about everybody with his no-nonsense attitude. Anderson and the Beavers play next in the NCAA Super Regionals on Friday, hosting Vanderbilt at 6 p.m. at Goss Stadium.
"I've been coaching for 39 years," OSU assistant coach Pat Bailey said. "I have as much respect for Jack Anderson as any player I've ever coached. Jack is just a great story. He's what Beaver baseball is all about."
"One of the reasons I coach is to get to work with kids like Jack," head coach Pat Casey said. "He's the epitome of why college athletes are so great. He's a great student, an unbelievable human being and a damn good player, I might add."
Anderson will be in the starting lineup when the top-seeded Beavers face the Commodores on Friday. Previously, Oregon State (52-4 overall) swept past Holy Cross and Yale (twice) in the NCAA Regionals, winning those three games by a combined score of 27-3.
The Lake Oswego High grad finished the regular season batting .312, trailing only Nick Madrigal (.377) and KJ. Harrison (.317). Anderson's on-base percentage stands at .418, behind only Madrigal among the OSU regulars and ranking seventh in the Pac-12.
Defensively, Anderson has committed no errors in 73 chances in the outfield, which include several sensational catches.
The 6-2, 210-pound Anderson came to Oregon State as a walk-on, and he remains one. Though he is a regular starter in the outfielder, Anderson receives no scholarship money and doesn't complain about it
"Absolutely not," he said. "Baseball gets proportionately the least amount of scholarships. I understand it's a numbers game, and they have a lot of out-of-state guys they have to take care of.
"I try not to think about it. I don't have to be on scholarship to make a contribution to this team. The coaches stress they're going to put the nine best players out there, regardless of whether they're on scholarship or a walk-on. That's all I really care about."
That kind of attitude made Anderson one of the most popular students — not just athletes — ever to grace the halls at Lake Oswego.
Anderson was a starting receiver and safety on a Lakers football team that won the state championship his junior season and reached the finals his senior season. He was sixth man on the basketball team that went 28-1 and finished third at state his senior season. And he was the starting center fielder and the No. 3 hitter on the baseball team that reached the state quarterfinals his final campaign.
"Jack was the last three-sport athlete we've had at our school," baseball coach Jake Anders said.
But he was much more than that.
"Jack was one of the best all-around athletes I've coached, and one of the most top-quality kids I've been around," football coach Steve Coury said. "He was such a leader in the school, and a big part of that was the way he treated people. The little guy was never too little for him. I can't say enough about Jack's character."
Anders said he taught Anderson's siblings and knows his parents.
"It's an outstanding family," Anders said, "And Jack is an outstanding individual. He has a strong spiritual foundation. He is one of those kids who was a difference-maker at school. He had the personality where everybody gravitated toward him.
"(OSU pitching coach) Nate Yeskie told me he can't think of a single kid on the team who doesn't like Jack. You just root for him. If you watch their games and see how excited he gets when something good happens for a teammate, well, it's all genuine. He's just that type of guy."
Anderson was sixth man for three varsity seasons of basketball at Lake Oswego.
"Jack was all-state in football and baseball, and the coaches (in those sports) were suggesting to him that he take some time off in the winter," said Mark Shoff, Anderson's basketball coach. "Not only was he a good athlete, he had that winner's attitude. I knew we'd be better off with him.
"I told him, 'You don't have to play summer league (basketball); I just need you during the season.' I needed him in our program. I needed him on the floor."
Shoff called Bailey during Anderson's senior year of high school.
"I told Pat, 'I guarantee you, he's a Pat Casey type of guy,'" Shoff said. "It's thrilling for me to get to watch him do what he has done for the Beavers. He's emblematic of what they're doing this year — a bunch of guys who want to play together and win."
Anderson was only lightly recruited out of high school and initially considered playing football and baseball at Linfield.
"It would have been cool to play for Joe Smith and Scott Brosius there," Anderson said, "but growing up, I always wanted to be a Beaver. When Coach Casey gave me the walk-on opportunity, I wanted to give it a shot."
Anderson redshirted his first season at OSU in 2014.
"Mentally, I wasn't ready to play, and physically, I needed to put on some extra muscle," he said. "It was a developmental year for me in a lot of ways, and I was able to focus on school a little more."
But the Beavers had an overflow of outfield candidates, and that summer, Casey and Bailey told him they didn't know if they'd have a roster spot for him in 2015.
"They saw some potential in me, but said it depended on the (Major League Baseball) draft, and which of their (incoming freshmen) signed," Anderson said. "I understood, but it was a pressure-filled month of hoping to hear from (them)."
Though he thought about going to Linn-Benton for a year and transferring back to OSU later, Anderson decided instead that he'd stick with the Beavers. Anderson won a roster spot but played only five games as a redshirt freshman due to hamstring issues.
"The next step for me was feeling like I belonged," he said. "Being a basketball role player in high school helped me with that. My contribution was from the bench, hyping guys up, playing catch with the outfielders between innings — whatever I could do to be part of it."
Anderson had a solid sophomore season in 2016, hitting .271 while starting 33 of 49 games. But there was plenty of competition in the outfield as the season began, and he was dealing with tendinitis in his left knee.
"I was thinking, 'Oh man, is this going to happen again?'" he said.
But Anderson got healthy, started hitting and never stopped. Casey wound up using him in every spot in the order through the season.
I "never would have dreamed that could have happened, but it's been cool," he said. "'Case' believes in me. He knows what he's going to get every game out of me."
Anderson's desire has been his biggest asset.
"Jack defied the odds of being an every-day player at Oregon State," Anders said. "Maybe he doesn't have the measurables that people are looking for, but he has an amazing will to compete. It's not surprising to me what he has been able to accomplish."
"Jack does everything right, on and off the field," Bailey said. "He makes the most out of his God-given talent. He does all the little things that help a team win. He's the ultimate team guy. He's a great example of what a Division-I player should be."
Casey said Anderson reminds him of former Beaver outfielders such as John Wallace and Max Gordon.
"Jack may not have the tool box certain guys have," the OSU coach said, "but he's a guy who can get it done between the white lines. I'll take that kind of guy any time. I love Jack Anderson."
The feeling is mutual.
"Coach Casey was one of my idols," Anderson said. "I've learned a ton of baseball from him, but even more about life. Whatever I'm doing 20 to 25 years from now, I'll be set up for success from learning from him and his outlook on life."
Anderson has warm feelings about his teammates, too.
"We come to the yard every day and don't take it for granted," he said. "I can go through each guy and say something special about him. Everybody has contributed to our success in a certain way. Win or lose, you're in there with your best friends. That's pretty cool."
Anderson could be chosen in the upcoming Major League Baseball draft, but he said it would take a hefty offer to get him to sign.
"My plan is to come back for my senior season," he said. "It would take a lot of money for me to leave this place. I have some school to finish up, and then I'll start physical therapy school the following year.
"We'll see where it ends up, but I want to use up all of my eligibility, until the NCAA rips it from me."