Legendary WO-S baseball coach Anderson leaves us with great memories

Published 12:53 pm Monday, February 5, 2018

In a span of a little more than three months, the Orange County “baseball fraternity” has lost another legend.

Legendary West Orange-Stark baseball coach Ronnie Anderson has passed away.

Just this last November, former Bridge City legendary coach Chuck Young passed away.

Anderson is a member of the Texas High School Baseball Hall of Fame along with being in the Southeast Texas Coaches Hall of Fame.

More information on funeral services will be coming soon.

“To lose two legends like Chuck and ‘Coach Andy’ in such a short span is heartbreaking,” said former WO-S standout and current Sulphur (La.) head coach Sam Moore, who was also once the head baseball coach at WO-S and Bridge City. “You’re talking about two of the finest coaches ever to coach Southeast Texas baseball.”

Anderson was known for his knowledge of the game, the work ethic he installed in his players along with some tremendous wise-cracking jokes.

“Coach Anderson was special in all ways and was all about the details of the game,” said Moore. “He always pushed you to be a better player and an even better man. He worked us so hard, but we respected that and we loved to work too. He made it fun and he prepared us to get better each and every time we took the field.”

WO-S Athletic Director and head football coach Cornel Thompson loved Coach Anderson and the loss has hit him hard.

“It’s been a tough day for sure, and I’m definitely dragging around today,” said Thompson. “Coach Anderson was not only a great man but was a mentor to me as well. We coached against each other when he was at West Orange and I was at Stark and we built a bond that lasted forever. He and I coached football together for years and coached the same PE class for years and years. Some of those conversations we had, just in those PE classes, will be treasures forever. To lose him and Coach Young in such a short span is really tough.”

Thompson felt Anderson always got the best out of his players.

“Coach Anderson built a tremendous legacy being a ‘’players’ coach’ and he was like a father figure for so many of the great baseball talent that has went through here,” said Thompson. “He was the type that could make a good player great and an average player good and got every single ounce out of all of them. He ran a hard-nosed program and you had to earn those spots for sure, but he was also so much fun and the kids loved the jokes he always had. I think, to this day, we tell at least Ronnie Anderson joke daily.”

Two former Mustang standouts — Roderick Robertson and Tony Dallas – definitely appreciated everything Coach Anderson had to offer them. Their sons — Payton Robertson and Jack Dallas – had great runs recently in a WO-S uniform and both are playing for Lamar University now.

“Coach Anderson was so unique and he just had that aura about him,” said Robertson. “He took a chance on both my brother (Andre) and myself at shortstop and we’ll forever be grateful. You learned so much about baseball but about life as well. He could be so tough on us, and believe me, we needed that at times. I simply loved playing for the man. There is no doubt he knew the game and he had a passion for it. He would help any kid he could get to the next level, and we’re not just talking about WO-S kids, but kids across the area. He’s truly going to be missed. He was a father figure to a lot of kids. I just remember him telling us after every game and practice that he loved us, and that was sincere.”

“He was one of a kind for sure, no doubt,” said Dallas. “He was a father figure to me and all of my teammates. He had some tough rules but he was fun with it most of the time and he always made us play with high energy, whether it was a practice or a game. Learning from him, a lot of us were able to pass what he taught us down to our kids and that was special. We’re certainly going to miss him at all the games. The last time I saw him I said ‘I love you Coach’ so I have no regrets there. No doubt, we lost a legend.”

Anderson began his long-time reign as head baseball coach of the West Orange Chiefs in 1970 and later the Mustang baseball program from 1977-1991.

His record was amazing as he compiled a 444-222-4 mark, including a Class 4A State appearance in 1991 and the Mustangs now play on the field named after him.

Anderson loved his players like they were his own kids. Even though he showed stern discipline, he always had plenty of time to joke with his players with so many one-liners, they are too many to count.

Coach Anderson had so many great players that went through the system. Three of his players, Andre Robertson, Bruce Aven and Jason Canizaro had solid careers in the Major Leagues.

Robertson played for the New York Yankees and won a World Series ring while Canizaro played with the San Francisco Giants and the Minnesota Twins. Aven, one of the best players to ever play at Lamar University, had stints with Cleveland, Florida, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles in the majors.

Who could forget some of the standout pitchers Anderson had over the years including the likes of Wade Phillips, Tony Dallas and John Bulovas.

There was also some big-time hitters that included Roderick Robertson, Sam Moore, Jason Woods, Cory Gafford, Brian Huff, Ray Pousson, Paul Richardson, James Long and James Callier that wore Mustang and Chief uniforms, just to name a few.

What many didn’t realize about “Coach Andy” was that he was quite the athlete in his “days.”

Anderson was a graduate of Orangefield High School and actually was a standout basketball player, helping the Bobcats claim their first-ever district title in 1953. He earned a basketball scholarship to Howard Junior College and later went to Sul Ross where he earned his degree in education.

He first coached at Orangefield before heading to West Orange High School in 1961.