Anderson, Smith face-off a curveball
Saturday, February 01, 2014 12:05 AM
Kermit Smith won't know what to think today.
Neither will Chris Anderson.
While putting their collective baseball caps together the previous nine years, they took Belmont Abbey and Lander University's programs to unprecedented heights.
Anderson was an assistant coach under Smith the first five years with the Crusaders, then the next four with the Bearcats. All that resulted in 290 victories together and appearances in the 2009 NCAA Division II College World Series with Belmont Abbey and a 2012 Southeast Regional with Lander. That also included a No. 1 ranking — a program first for Lander — last season.
In today's season-opening doubleheader between Lander and Belmont Abbey, Smith will see Anderson at Dolny Stadium — but in the Crusaders' dugout, since Belmont Abbey hired Anderson as its coach in August.
Talk about a change-up, followed by a curveball.
The weekend series between the two coaches was not by design. Well, not the design Smith and Anderson intended.
Since baseball schedules are made a year in advance, neither saw this coming.
But then again, life is not by design.
With no script, it simply presents itself. In turn, you just roll with it.
"I think it's going to stink," Smith said. "You know, I'm not really excited about it other than the fact we're playing a game."
Anderson, as you can tell, thinks the same way.
"I don't think this is something we want to do every year," Anderson said. "It's a little odd, knowing you're going to open up at the place you just left."
The simple fact they're dreading this weekend speaks volumes of their affection for each other. It all comes down to what led Smith to hire Anderson in the first place.
Go back years ago to a camp at Smith's alma mater, Pfeiffer, when Smith — then the coach at Belmont Abbey — showed his dry, sarcastic humor. And, by chance, Anderson understood it.
Not long after the two met, Anderson tore off a sheet from his packet and wrote his phone number on it for Smith just in case a job at Belmont Abbey came open.
"Is that your business card?" Smith quipped.
Anderson simply laughed.
"I then kept his number by my radio in my truck for probably about two months," Smith said. "Once I knew I would have a position open the following season, I gave him a call."
From there, the two were in perfect baseball harmony.
How much so? Considering Smith harbors a family mentality when he coaches, he and his wife, Rebecca, asked Anderson — then an assistant at his alma mater, Catawba — and his now-wife, Meg, to meet them at a North Carolina barbecue restaurant for the interview to become Smith's pitching coach with the Crusaders.
"My wife said to me, '(Anderson) is your guy,' " Smith recalled.
"(Anderson) was so genuine, and he had knowledge of what he could bring to my pitching staff," Smith said. "He's not afraid to wear his emotions on his sleeve like myself, and he accepted the job."
Of course, there were several things which drew Anderson to coach with Smith.
"(Smith) is a fantastic person and has high character," Anderson said. "He's a great mentor of young adults. He's a fantastic administrator in running a program, and he's a great baseball coach, too."
For now, though, it's time to play ball. That won't make it any easier, though.
"I want (Anderson) to win every game he coaches," Smith said. "But just not this weekend."
Chancey is sports editor at the Index-Journal. Contact him at 864-223-1813; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @IJSCOTTCHANCEY . Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.