Hometown Report

Four years after being cut from Cordova High, an 86-year-old coach faces his old team

Former Cordova High School baseball coach Guy Anderson is still hustling and helping kids learn as he helps coach Capital Christian High in the playoffs.
Former Cordova High School baseball coach Guy Anderson is still hustling and helping kids learn as he helps coach Capital Christian High in the playoffs. aseng@sacbee.com

Guy Anderson is 86, but how can that be?

One of this region’s treasured coaches and personalities continues to do what Guy Anderson does: Live as if every day bears special meaning.

He booms of good cheer. He hustles from Point A to Point B, either by foot or on a bike, as he treks through vineyards near and far, the Golden Gate Bridge or any path he and wife Karen can find.

Who does this sort of thing at 86? Guy does. Karen is much younger, and she insists Anderson keeps up. He does.

Time hasn’t dimmed Anderson’s zest to achieve or compete. Anderson also does yoga. He plays middle infield in the Sacramento Golden Seniors softball league. And you can bet he can still chug around third base with home plate in mind.

“Oh baby, let me tell you, I still have speed!” Anderson said by phone Tuesday afternoon. “These old legs can still play.”

Our conversation was brief. Anderson is a man on the move, always.

By title, he is the first base coach for Capital Christian High School, donning blue colors for a program and place of learning he never anticipated he would work. He’s also a goodwill ambassador on regional sports – what it can do for people of any age.

Anderson won a state-record 927 games over 45 seasons in bright red colors as the famed Cordova Lancers coach, located just up Highway 50 from Capital Christian. He won championships over five decades and produced some of the best teams and rosters in area history, including some who went on to Major League Baseball careers such a Chris Bosio and Geoff Jenkins.

But Anderson’s Big Red Lancers tenure came crashing down four years ago this month. I was the first person Anderson called, moments after he had been summoned to the administration offices at Cordova, where Anderson had been a mainstay in many roles since the school opened in 1963.

He was fired. Just like that. Need to go in another direction, he was told. Anderson sulked then, and he fumed. These things just don’t happen to coaches who are in multiple halls of fame and are revered as much as they are respected and or beloved.

But it is also a reminder that coaching contracts at this level are a year-to-year, at-will deal. Nothing is assured, not even legacy.

Anderson was coming off his most trying Cordova season in 2015, a 6-21 spinout with a young team that didn’t always respond to old-school coaching. Some parents didn’t like how Anderson coached, and some went to administration and demanded change. They got it, perhaps not fully comprehending that Cordova was not nearly the sports power it had been in previous decades, the result of changing demographics and declining enrollment.

Anderson never changed, but the town did, the school and the rosters did.

Now in his fourth season at Capital Christian under longtime Cougars coach Nelson Randolph, Anderson did a double-take when he saw the opening matchup for this week’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoff opener: Cordova at Capital Christian on Tuesday afternoon. Capital Christian easily handled Cordova, 20-0.

Capital Christian is a powerhouse under the cool leadership of Randolph, and the sage input of Anderson, in his 62nd overall season of coaching, and of Ralph Rago, in his 57th year of coaching with stops at Davis, UC Davis and across the globe.

Capital Christian has won six consecutive section banners at various levels. The team includes star infielder Xavier Carter, a bulk at 6-foot-5 with a scholarship to San Diego State and, perhaps, a June draft-day call.

“He’s talented, swings a beautiful bat from the left side, just a delight,” Anderson said.

Time has soothed the Cordova exit, Anderson said. Hours before Tuesday’s first pitch, Anderson met with administrators within the Folsom-Cordova Unified School District to discuss projects and ideas. Why not pick his brain?

Said FCUSD athletics director Peter Maroon, “I’ve known Guy forever. He was one of my mentors. Admired him for years. What happened a few years ago should not have happened, and we’re mending fences. Let bygones be bygones, and let’s play ball! Guy is still Mr. Baseball in Rancho Cordova and he needs to be recognized for that at some point.”

Anderson has moved on from his dismissal but he acklowledges it was not a pleasant time.

“Life is really good,” Anderson said. “Yes, it hurt when I got fired. If I had coffee with the principal then, at the school cafeteria, and if I was asked what my longterm plans were, I might have agreed that we need someone younger as coach and I’d give it another year. I would have been OK with that.”

Anderson continued, “I’ve had a great time at Capital. Love working with Coach Randolph and the kids. I made it clear that I wasn’t coming over to take Nelson’s job. Not at all. One of the nicest things that have happened to me at Capital is all the umpires before games coming over to say hello. That’s the great thing about athletics. There are so many contacts and people that you meet, and you enjoy that.”

What Anderson didn’t enjoy was a three-day stay in the hospital last month. He had emergency appendectomy surgery. And then he bounded out of the place. One would need restraints to keep a good Guy down.

He and Karen will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary at the end of this month. Karen told her celebrity mate years ago that she would learn to keep score of his games as long as he rode bikes with her, did yoga, sipped wine and lived life to the fullest. He bought in.

“Karen’s my angel,” Anderson said. “Just super. Came home after we won the league championship last week, and she had wine by the back pool, salmon for dinner. Life is a kick and a half.”

Sac-Joaquin Section

Baseball playoff openers:

For complete brackets: cifsjs.org

Division I

Vacaville 14 Kennedy 0

Pleasant Grove 3, Oak Ridge 2

McClatchy 4, Davis 3

Gregori 2, Lodi 1

Folsom 12, Armijo 2

Franklin 6, Pitman 2

Turlock 10, Lincoln-Stockton 1

Jesuit 10, Chavez 0

Division II

Oakmont 6, Stagg 0

Elk Grove 3, Yuba City 2

Bella Vista 2, Laguna Creek 1

Tracy 3, Bear Creek 1

Whitney 4, Rodriguez 2

Del Campo 1, Granite Bay 0

Rocklin 4, St. Mary’s 3

Woodcreek 3, Lincoln 2

Division III

Buhach Colony 18, Johnson 0

Rio Americano 13, Nevada Union 4

Oakdale 10, El Capitan 0

Capital Christian 20, Cordova 0

Atwater 9, Ceres 5

Manteca 4, Beyer 1

Ponderosa 2, Christian Brothers 0

Sierra 2, Golden Valley 0

Division IV

Pioneer 11, Union Mine 1

Sonora 3, El Dorado 0

Central Catholic 5, Ripon 2

Woodland 5, Marysville 0

Livingston 11, Venture Academy 1

Liberty Ranch 3, West Campus 2

Byes: Los Banos, Casa Roble

Division V

Argonaut 15, Orestimba 0

Bear River 7, Linden 6

Hughson 10, Amador 7

Colfax 10, Western Sierra 0

Division VI

Ripon Christian 5, Millennium 1

Waterford 1, San Juan 0

Golden Sierra 13, Hughes Academy 6

Mariposa 3, Holt Academy 1

Division VII

Alpha Charter 8, Sacramento Waldorf 0

Turlock Christian 11, Foresthill 1

Valley Christian 7, Big Valley Christian 4

Woodland Christian 3, Leroy Greene 1