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Promise kept for John Anderson’s biggest fan, his daughter

(originally posted on

by: Daniel House

Just twenty minutes before one of the biggest games of his coaching career, Gophers coach
John Anderson had an important call to make.

His daughter’s phone buzzed as she was traveling to the airport for a flight to Baltimore. When
her phone lit up, she was surprised her dad was calling moments before an NCAA Regional
Championship game against UCLA at Siebert Field.

Erin Anderson picked up the phone with her dad on the other end. He said, “Are you on the way
to airport?” That’s when the long-time manager and his daughter were overcome with emotion.

“I had to get myself back together before the game,” John Anderson said following the team’s
regional championship game.

As he was preparing for the game, his biggest fan was getting set to board an airplane for work.
A father and his daughter both realized they wouldn’t be together at the ballpark like usual.

“We both kind of just got a little emotional just knowing that I wasn’t going to be there and what
might happen and also just the anticipation of it all,” Erin Anderson said. “If my dad starts crying,
I can’t not cry.”

For her, missing one of the biggest moments of her dad’s coaching career wasn’t easy. It’s a
bond she has shared with him ever since she can remember.

Erin was once a five-year-old bat girl for the team before realizing she liked the experience from
the seats better. The view from the stands became a lifestyle for Anderson’s daughter, a
University of Minnesota graduate, who attends every possible game.

“When [the team is] home, my mom and I go to every game that we can,” Erin said. “If my
friends are like, ‘what are you doing this weekend?', I’m like ‘I have baseball.’

Following the Gophers’ dramatic 3-2 win in extra innings over UCLA on Saturday night, Erin told
her father she was going to miss the game due to a previously scheduled work trip.

“I told him you have to win the game so I can come next weekend,” Anderson said.

The man in charge of the Gophers baseball team didn’t hesitate at all when his daughter broke
the news. He made one promise to her – a trip to the Super Regionals next week.

“He was like, ‘we will [win], I promise,’” Anderson said. “And that kind of surprised me that he
said that because he never says stuff like that.”

The Gophers had not advanced to a Super Regional in Anderson’s 37 years at the helm of
Minnesota’s baseball program. This year, the team hosted an NCAA Regional at Siebert Field
for the first time in 18 years. Erin was in attendance for Minnesota’s first two NCAA Tournament
games, including the thrilling 3-2 win against UCLA to set the table for Sunday’s regional
championship. It didn’t come without anxiety for Anderson’s daughter, who might be the most
nervous person in the ballpark when her father’s team takes the field.

As the Gophers trailed UCLA 2-1 in Saturday night’s game, Erin decided to be superstitious like
many baseball families. She and her mother, Jan, moved to different seats in the ballpark.
Moments after they sat down, catcher Eli Wilson drove a double to left, tying the game at 2. Two
innings later, senior third baseman Micah Coffey laced an RBI double to right, scoring the
eventual game-winning run from second base.

“Baseball is a superstitious sport,” Anderson said. “I got up and moved and I made my mom
move too and that’s when we started doing better. It probably has nothing to do with the
outcome of the game, but we all are superstitious.”

Watching the team win in such a thrilling fashion made getting on an airplane the next day even
more agonizing for Erin. However, this was another moment where the even-keeled baseball
coach provided a sense of security for his daughter.

“I promised her that we would win the game, so she could go to the next round with us,”
Anderson said after the game.

Erin was watching from the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport on her phone until a two-run single by
Eli Wilson extended the team’s lead to 9-5 in the fourth inning. As her flight was nearing takeoff,
Anderson turned off her phone and anxiously awaited the opportunity to see another update.
When she finally had the chance, Erin feverishly opened the app to see the Gophers leading
13-5 in the fifth inning. She started to breath a sigh of relief.

“It was 13-5, so that was good because I felt ok about the game and not being there,” Anderson

As the wheels of the plane touched down in Baltimore, magic happened at Siebert Field.
Gophers pitcher Fred Manke stared into the glove of catcher Eli Wilson with UCLA down to its
final strike. John Anderson watched from the dugout as his team was seconds way from the
program’s first Super Regional berth.

Manke stood ready as a Siebert Field record 2,425 fans were on their feet. 1,100 miles away,
John Anderson’s number one fan sat on the edge of her plane seat. It was finally her dad’s
moment after coming up just short in 18 career NCAA Tournament appearances. Manke
delivered the pitch, freezing UCLA infielder Jake Hirabayashi at the plate. The umpire signaled
strike-three and a celebration began on the pitcher’s mound as Minnesota won 13-8. John
Anderson hugged his assistants and sang the rouser with the Minnesota faithful.

There was only one person left to share the moment with – his daughter. Erin quickly exited the
plane and immediately called her mother, Jan, who happened to be with John minutes before
his post-game press conference. She handed John the phone with his daughter ready to
“He was so happy and so was I and we both kind of started crying again, so it was emotional,”
Erin said.

Tears flowed as they both celebrated a trip to the Super Regionals. The manager composed
himself before meeting with the media for his post-game press conference.

For the Gophers’ longtime skipper, there was never a doubt his team would fulfill the promise he
made to his biggest fan.

“She’s been a baseball daughter and her and my wife Jan are my biggest fans and they have
more fun than any of the rest of us, but I guess I want to thank the guys, because if we wouldn’t
have gotten it done here, she would have been heartbroken,” Anderson said as he fought back
tears following the 13-8 win.

He turned to the three players sitting at the podium next to him, and said, “Thanks guys – she
was crying on the phone when I was talking to her, so thank you.”

On the horizon is a best-of-three series with Oregon State as Minnesota attempts to qualify for
its first College World Series since 1977. The trip John Anderson promised his daughter is
another opportunity to create a special moment.

“He’s just done so much in his 37 years here for the program and the kids. He really cares about
them. For him, he’s so humble, it’s not about him winning or the accolades. I know it has been a
dream of his to go [to the College World Series], because the last time he went, he was a
student manager,” Erin said. “It would mean so much.”

No matter the circumstances, Sunday night was proof a father and daughter’s bond truly has no

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