April 26, 2012
By Jennifer Jones
By Jennifer Jones
FRESNO, Calif. - Fresno State Athletics lost a valued supporter on March 6, 2012 with the passing of Dr. Rodney Anderson. A professor in the political science department for over 15 years, Dr. Anderson was a Bulldog to the core and a true college baseball fan.
Because of his love of the institution and the game of baseball, a scholarship has been established in his honor and his family has donated his two seats from Rosenblatt Stadium, home of the NCAA Division I College World Series (1950-2010). Both seats will be displayed on the Beiden Field concourse for the remainder of the Bulldogs' home season beginning Friday, May 4th.
In honor of his enduring support for the program, Fresno State baseball has named May 4, 2012 as Dr. Rodney Anderson Day. His father and brother, Ron, will throw out the first pitch of the Bulldogs series opener against Sacramento State at 6 p.m. Fans in attendance will have an opportunity to take pictures with the seats and the Bulldogs' National Championship trophy on the concourse.
One dollar from every ticket sold will go towards the Dr. Rodney Anderson Memorial Scholarship. All Fresno State faculty and staff (with valid school I.D.) receive free admission for themselves and one guest.
Dr. Anderson, a Geneva, Neb. native, grew up just two hours from Omaha, Neb., host city of the CWS. After starting at Fresno State, he made the trip home every summer and began coordinating his vacation around the national championship event. Armed with Bulldog pride, his father and his brother, Dr. Anderson didn't miss a single Fresno State game in the famed run to the national title in 2008.
"I cannot express the excitement and pride he had for the Bulldogs team that won," said Ron. "My brother was such a huge fan of Fresno State baseball and a proud supporter of the program. I would estimate he had one of the largest collections of the Bulldog National Championship in the Valley. From 2009 on, I was reminded of the 'Dogs Championship by his wardrobe to the CWS games. He always wore either a Championship cap or t-shirt or both to every CWS game we attended to show his pride in Fresno State to all other fans around us."
In 2010, it was announced that Rosenblatt Stadium would no longer play host to the CWS. After 61 years of housing college baseball's most prestigious tournament, the 25,500-seat facility saw its last national champion crowned June 30, 2010.
Nestled next to the Missouri River, the iconic structure's ownership was transferred from the city of Omaha to the adjacent Henry Zoo. According to the Omaha World-Herald, the city's zoo foundation will be "sensitive" in the timing for the historic parks destruction, but Rosenblatt is scheduled to be demolished during the summer of 2012.
"Rosenblatt had so many great memories for him, but he was looking forward to Fresno State getting back to Omaha to play in TD Ameritrade Park," Ron said of Dr. Anderson. "I am so glad that he got to go to the 2011 CWS and enjoy the new facility."
To raise money for demolition, the Omaha Zoo Foundation held a live auction of Rosenblatt memorabilia June 23, 2011. The auction included items such as home plates, pitching machines, signage, wooden lockers and outfield wall pads. Seizing his opportunity to purchase pieces of history, Dr. Anderson successfully acquired the two seats he and his father sat in during game three of the Bulldogs championship series against Georgia.
He brought the seats back to Fresno and put them in his apartment.
"He had them set up in his living room with a view of all his CWS Championship banners, pennants, posters, newspaper front pages, etc.," added Ron. "He was very proud that he was able to get the two seats. It felt like you were at the ballpark when you sat in them."
Dr. Anderson continued to avidly support the baseball program along with other Fresno State sports. His last series at Pete Beiden Field was the Bulldogs three-game stint against then No. 1 Stanford, March 2-4.
"He was so proud to call me Friday after the Bulldogs big win," said Ron.
Fresno State upset the Cardinal, 7-4, to hand them their first loss of the season.
After his sudden passing, the Anderson family knew there would be no better home for the historic seats than with the Fresno State baseball program.
"Dr. Anderson's gift was from the heart," said Bulldog baseball head coach Mike Batesole. "Our 2008 National Championship was won with heart. It's the perfect way to honor and remember both Dr. Anderson and our National Championship."
Described by colleagues as caring and compassionate, Dr. Anderson mentored students as a part of the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program. One of the eight federal TRIO programs, it is designed to prepare students from disadvantaged backgrounds eligible for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities.
"His students really meant the world to him," said political science department chair David Schecter. "He was one of the most committed professional teachers I have ever met and we all will miss him very much."
"We weren't aware of the time he volunteered with the mentoring program on campus and just how much of an impact he had with all of his students," said Ron. "After his passing, our family was so touched by how the Fresno State community honored and remembered him. We would like Fresno State to know how proud he was to be a part of the University and the community. As much as he loved coming back to Nebraska at Christmas and in the summer, Fresno was his home."
Those wishing to donate to the scholarship fund should make checks out to California State University, Fresno Foundation, noting the Rodney Anderson Memorial Scholarship, and send them to the College of Social Sciences, 5340 N. Campus Drive M/S SS91, Fresno, CA 93740-8019.
"We Are Your Team!" You can stay connected with Fresno State Athletics on Facebook (fresnostateathletics) and Twitter (@FSAthletics).
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