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From the horse’s mouth: Musser and Marlon

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Andy Musser was no Harry Kalas, but that’s okay

Marlon Anderson #16

It’s the Thursday before Memorial Day. So naturally, I wrote about Andy Musser and Marlon Anderson. What do Andy Musser and Marlon Anderson have to do with Memorial Day? Absolutely nothing as far as I can tell. What do they have to do with each other? Aside from Musser having inevitably called some of Anderson’s games, there’s no real connection between them that I can see.

So why am I writing about them? Why not?

Random thought about the Phillies

I found myself wondering about the Phillies’ former play-by-play announcer Andy Musser the other day. (The mind goes to weird places during social isolation. Don’t judge.) I seemed to recall seeing him on television somewhat recently, so it was surprising for me to learn that he actually passed away eight years ago.

I realized that I didn’t know all that much about Musser. I seem to recall people disliking him simply because he wasn’t Harry Kalas, and every time they heard Musser, it generally meant they weren’t hearing Kalas. I distinctly remember my father’s friend saying he couldn’t listen to Musser while he was driving, out of fear of falling asleep at the wheel.

Checking his Wikipedia page, I learned that he had a prolific broadcasting career. In addition to his lengthy stint doing Phillies games, he also worked on basketball and football games, and even did the radio calls for a couple of the early Super Bowls. It seems like his national reputation was much better than his local one.

And while his Phillies career isn’t generally held in high regard, he is responsible for one of the best calls in team history:

I wonder if it hadn’t been for Kalas, would Musser be regarded as a legendary announcer in his own right?

Random thought that is definitely not about the Phillies

So Georgia didn’t actually see a spike in COVID-19 cases after they re-opened? That’s good news, right? Maybe we will see a return to some semblance of normalcy this year? Or is it just as likely that we’re going to find out that Georgia is simply misreporting numbers?

Random Phillies thing I found on YouTube

Searching for Andy Musser on YouTube resulted in this video from 1984 which is chock full of goodness:

First, you have the outro for Channel 17’s Late Show, which was apparently a movie the station aired at midnight. (Tomorrow night: King Kong vs. Godzilla? Sign me up!) Then we get an advertisement for The Men’s Resource Center. (Interesting that they suspected that men in troubled marriages might be the main audience for midnight movies.)

Finally, we get Musser promoting the March of Dimes’ 10k run. I’m gonna come right out and say it: Andy looks weird as heck when he runs. Maybe he wasn’t running naturally because of the cameras, but there’s something kind of disturbing about his gait.

Phormer Phillie phile: Marlon Anderson

After the Phillies selected him in the second round of the 1995 amateur draft, Marlon Anderson steadily rose through their minor league system. The second baseman made his debut in 1998, and was given the starting job for the 1999 season. The result was underwhelming, as he was worth negative wins above replacement for the year.

The Phillies were so unimpressed by Anderson that they brought back Mickey Morandini for the 2000 season and demoted Anderson to the minors. However, by August of that year, the Phillies’ season was beyond saving, so they traded Morandini and gave Anderson another chance.

Anderson showed some improvement in 2001, and after a decent season in 2002 season looked like he might have a future as an average starting second baseman.

Marlon Anderson #16
Anderson was definitely okay at times

But Anderson was a free agent after 2002, and the team decided to let him walk. They were already planning on pursuing David Bell to play third base and shift Placido Polanco to second. Plus, they had a hot prospect named Chase Utley who was likely only a year away from the major leagues.

After leaving Philadelphia, Anderson bounced around the National League. He established himself as a solid reserve, but never really made the Phillies regret letting him go. His biggest problem that he wasn’t really good at anything. He was slightly above average on defense, didn’t hit for a great average, he wasn’t especially fast, and he didn’t have a lot of power. That’s fine for a reserve, but if he’s your starter at second base, you’ll probably look for an upgrade at some point.

Anderson is only one of two players named Marlon to ever play in the major leagues. Oddly, the other one was his teammate on the 2002 Phillies, Marlon Byrd. The duo would again team up on the Washington Nationals, but neither of them ever ended up in Miami.

Featured baseball card

Here’s a card from Topps’ 1999 Chrome set honoring Anderson and two other prospects:

Orlando Cabrera had the best career of the three, lasting 15 years in the majors and winning two Gold Glove awards. However, the only All-Star appearance among the three was by Ronnie Belliard who was named to the 2004 American League team.

Unlike a certain 1972 card that also featured three rookies, it seems that the Phillies ended up with the weakest member of the trio this time around.

Parting thought

Anyone know if there’s any video out there of Chris Wheeler running? If so, I can discuss his running style next week.