In the fall of 1981, John Anderson took over the job of leading the tradition-rich University of Minnesota baseball program, thereby retracing the footsteps of his mentor, legendary Golden Gopher Hall of Fame baseball coach Dick Siebert. Thirty two years later, Anderson continues to uphold the lofty standards of the University of Minnesota baseball program.
In fact, on January 4, 2008, Anderson joined his mentor and teacher in the ABCA Hall of Fame when he became the third Golden Gopher coach to be inducted.
Anderson followed former Minnesota coaches Frank McCormick (1931-41) and Siebert's (1948-78) path to the ABCA Hall of Fame. He also became the eighth coach from the state of Minnesota and the 15th in the Big Ten to receive the honors. Anderson's induction into the Hall of Fame, along with McCormick and Siebert's, represent an overall testament to the consistent success the Minnesota baseball program has enjoyed over the past 75 years.
On May 14, 2009, Anderson also won his 1,000th career game when Minnesota won at Penn State 7-6. With the victory, he became the 39th coach in the history of Division I to win 1,000 games, and the 20th to do so with the same program. Both numbers were a continued reminder of the continued consistency of winning that Anderson has carried on at the University of Minnesota.
Anderson enters the 2013 season with a record of 1,092-726-3 for a winning percentage of .601. Among active Division I head coaches, he is 12th in wins, fifth among coaches who have been at the same school in victories, 48th in winning percentage and 37th among all-time coaches in victories. Entering the 2012 season, he carries an average of more than 35 wins a season over 30 years.
He is also the winningest coach in Big Ten history with 493 conference victories. His overall Big Ten career record is 493-291 (.629). Anderson helped the 2003 and 2004 senior classes graduate with four Big Ten championship rings (either tournament or regular season). Minnesota won or split 38 of its 43 Big Ten series (25-5-13) from 2002-07, and also put up the highest two-year Big Ten win total in conference history in the 2003 & 04 season with 45. Minnesota also won both the Big Ten and regular-season titles in 2010. It marked only the seventh time since 1988 (when the Big Ten returned to a non-divisional format) that the a team won both the regular-season and tournament titles.
The Golden Gophers have advanced to the NCAA Regionals in nine of the last 14 years and played in the Regional final in 2009 and 2010. They are one of only 19 teams in the nation to make appearances in the final game of an NCAA Regional in consecutive seasons. Minnesota's nine NCAA Tournament appearances in that time are the most by any Big Ten team since 1998. Since Anderson took over the Golden Gophers in 1982, Minnesota has made 17 NCAA Tournament appearances. That is the highest total by any school in the Big Ten in the span, and the most NCAA Tournament appearances of any coach in Big Ten history. The Golden Gophers also hosted the 2000 NCAA Regional. It was the first time since 1977 that the University of Minnesota played the role of host to a regional tournament.
Minnesota has also made the Big Ten Tournament 26 times in 30 years under Anderson. In his 26 appearances, Anderson has accumulated a 61-39 record for a .610 winning percentage. In Anderson's last nine of 11 appearances in the Big Ten Tournament, Minnesota has made the championship game. He has also claimed nine championships and 10 runner-up finishes.
With 40 wins in 2009, Minnesota has collected nine 40-win seasons under Anderson. The Golden Gophers have also won 30 or more games under Anderson in 27 of his 29 seasons.
The 2010 season saw the Golden Gophers show a great deal of resiliency on the way to a highly successful season. After starting 14-23, Minnesota went 18-7 in its final 25 games to finish 32-30. Minnesota also battled back from a 5-6 Big Ten start to finish 10-3 to claim the Big Ten regular-season title. The Golden Gophers swept through the Big Ten Tournament to win the title. For the first time since 1994, Minnesota won the first two games of the NCAA Regionals as it defeated Cal State Fullerton and New Mexico. Unfortunately for the Golden Gophers the Titans would bounce back to win the final two games of the regional.
Minnesota also shut out No. 20 Kansas State on the road and defeated No. 7 Cal State Fullerton in its first game of the NCAA Tournament. Indivdually, the Golden Gophers had seven different players named to All-Big Ten teams. Junior first baseman Nick O'Shea received first-team honors, while junior starting pitcher Phil Isaksson, junior right fielder Michael Kvasnicka and junior starter Seth Rosin claimed second-team honors. Senior catcher Kyle Knudson, junior reliever Scott Matyas and freshman starter TJ Oakes claimed third-team honors. Oakes was also named to the All-Freshmen team.
In 2009, Anderson guided the Golden Gophers to a 40-19 (.678) overall record, second-place in the Big Ten by a half game at 17-6 (.739) and second in the Big Ten Tournament. Minnesota was one step away from the Super Regional round, as it lost to eventual National Champion LSU in the championship game of the NCAA Regional in Baton Rouge.
Minnesota won the Dairy Queen Classic for the second year in a row defeating Hawai'i, UC Santa Barbara and Washington to claim the title. The Golden Gophers also won two out of three games at No. 11 TCU and claimed three out of four from a ranked Ohio State squad during the course of the season.
Individually, the Golden Gophers were led by Derek McCallum, who claimed First-Team All-America honors in 2009. Minnesota also had seven players named to All-Big Ten teams as McCallum (First-Team, Second Baseman), Scott Matyas (Second-Team, Reliever), AJ Pettersen (Second-Team, Shortstop), Seth Rosin (Second-Team, Starting Pitcher), Tom Buske (Third-Team, Starting Pitcher), Michael Kvasnicka (Third-Team, Outfielder) and Matt Nohelty (Third-Team, Designated Hitter) all claimed the honors.
It was a satisfying year as a team, as the Golden Gophers manufactured the largest turnaround in the nation from 2008 to 2009. Overall, Minnesota's 40-19 record was an 18-game turnaround from the 20-35 finish in the 2008.
In 2008, the Golden Gophers won the Dairy Queen Classic for the fifth time in school history claiming the title over No. 18 Tulane, TCU and Pepperdine with a 2-1 record. Minnesota also defeated No. 2 Missouri on Mar. 26, marking their highest-ranked victory since 2003. The Golden Gophers had two players named First-Team All-Big Ten, as Matt Nohelty (center field) and Nate Hanson (third base) claimed the honors at their respective positions for a second year in a row. Off the field, the Minnesota baseball team posted a 3.0 GPA as a team.
In 2007, Anderson led Minnesota back to the NCAA Tournament. The Golden Gophers knocked out No. 4 San Diego with a 6-5 10-inning victory in the tournament. Minnesota also defeated No. 5 Arkansas and No. 9 Pepperdine earlier in the year to give it wins over three different top-10 programs for the first time since 1991. The Golden Gophers also compiled a 41-18 overall record, which was the fourth-best winning percentage (.695) under Anderson. It was Minnesota's highest winning percentage since 1999. The Golden Gophers finished tied for second in the Big Ten with an 18-9 conference record.
That season, Anderson also helped led the Golden Gophers to a Big Ten record seventh straight Big Ten Tournament Championship game. Minnesota's first appearance in that stretch came against Michigan in Columbus, Ohio in 2001. The Golden Gophers faced Ohio State in four straight Big Ten Championships in 2002 (at Minneapolis), 2003 (at Minneapolis), 2004 (at Minneapolis) and 2005 (at Champaign). Minnesota continued the string against Michigan in Ann Arbor in 2006 and faced Ohio State in Ann Arbor in the 2007 Big Ten Tournament Championship.
Individually, the Golden Gophers had three players named First-Team All-Big Ten (Nate Hanson - 3B, Mike Mee - OF, Matt Nohelty - OF), marking the first time three Golden Gophers made it since 2004. Kyle Carr (Second-Team - RP), Dan Lyons (Third-Team - SS) and Josh Oslin (Third-Team - RP) also made All-Big Ten teams for Minnesota.
In 2006, Anderson reached a pair of significant milestones that underscored his consistent success at the "U". On Apr. 23, Anderson became the first coach in Big Ten history to record 400 conference victories with a 6-3 victory at Michigan State. The second piece of history occurred on May 20 in the first game of a doubleheader against Indiana when the Golden Gophers defeated the Hoosiers to give Anderson his 900th career victory.
On May 31, 2003 Minnesota rallied from a 5-2 deficit to defeat Pepperdine 7-5 in the NCAA Tournament to give Anderson his 800th career victory. Anderson won his 755th career game as the Golden Gophers skipper on May 12, 2002 to become the winningest manager in school history. Adding to his prestige on campus, Anderson was also inducted into the `M' Club Hall of Fame in 2002.
Minnesota won 10 of its final 12 games in the 2006 season to finish 34-26 overall. The Golden Gophers had three players named all-conference, as Cole DeVries (2nd-team), Nohelty (3rd-team) and Andy Hunter (3rd-team) all grabbed the honors. Nohelty also became the fourth Golden Gopher in four years to receive Freshman All-American honors. All four players (Hunter, Mike Mee, Nohelty and Glen Perkins) redshirted their true freshman seasons and gained valuable experience under the Gopher coaching staff.
In 2005, the Golden Gophers entered the Big Ten Tournament with the No. 6 seed, but played a Big Ten record six games to reach the championship. Minnesota at the time became the first No. 6 seed in the Big Ten Tournament's history to advance to the championship game. In the Big Ten Tournament, the Golden Gophers demonstrated the trademark resiliency that has come to be associated with Anderson's program, as they rallied from three runs or more in all four of their Big Ten Tournament victories. For the effort in the Big Ten Tournament, Minnesota had five players named to the All-Tournament team. The Golden Gophers also had five players named to the Big Ten All-Conference team, including First-Team third baseman David Hrncirik who started his career as a walk-on in Anderson's program.
Anderson claimed Big Ten Coach of the Year honors for a record third straight year and the fourth time in five years in 2004. He also guided the program to a historical season in which it won the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles in the same season for the first time in school history, and what was then only the seventh time in conference history. The Golden Gophers claimed a third straight regular season Big Ten title for the first time in the conference since it was done in 1993-95. It was also the first time Minnesota had claimed three straight regular season titles since 1968-70. Minnesota had nine players named to the three All-Big Ten teams, including three first-teamers. Glen Perkins was also named the Big Ten Pitcher of the Year and earned All-American honors for Minnesota in 2004.
Adding to the highly successful season, was Minnesota's 2004 Dairy Queen Classic that featured wins over No. 14 Nebraska and No. 22 Florida State to claim the tournament championship. The Golden Gophers also claimed a win at 2004 national champion Cal State Fullerton on Mar. 13 in which they rallied from a three-run deficit in the ninth inning. Minnesota hosted the Big Ten Tournament for the fourth time in five seasons, and became the first host to win the tournament since 1995.
In 2003, Anderson led Minnesota to its second straight regular season title with a 24-6 Big Ten record. It was the first time the Golden Gophers had claimed back-to-back regular season titles, in non-divisional play, since 1973 & 74. Minnesota ended up winning the conference by five games, the largest margin since the conference went to non-divisional play in 1988.
Minnesota also claimed its seventh 40-win season during Anderson's coaching tenure in 2003, going 40-22. The Golden Gophers finished first in the Big Ten by five games with a 24-6 record. The 24 conference wins was the third-highest total in Big Ten history. The Golden Gophers won three of the four major Big Ten postseason honors, as Anderson was named coach of the year, Luke Appert was named Big Ten Player of the Year for a second season in a row and Glen Perkins was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Minnesota also won two of three games in an early season series against No. 2 Cal State Fullerton, and defeated No. 14 Notre Dame to add on to its highly successful conference season. The Golden Gophers delivered Anderson's 800th win in dramatic fashion. Minnesota trailed Pepperdine 5-2 in the NCAA Regionals going into the top of the ninth inning, but the bats woke up as Minnesota scored five runs to move on to a 7-5 victory.
The 2002 season saw Minnesota claim its sixth Big Ten regular season title, during Anderson's tenure, on the final day of the season as the Golden Gophers defeated Ohio State 8-5 at Columbus in the final game of the season to claim the title. Anderson was named Big Ten Coach of the Year for the third time in his coaching career. His players joined him in claiming awards, as the Golden Gophers nearly swept the Big Ten honors. Luke Appert was named one of the conference's Tri-Players of the Year, while C.J. Woodrow was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Year. Minnesota also rebounded from an early 1-9 record to claim its 19th straight 30-win season under Anderson. On May 12, 2002 his team delivered an 8-5 victory in the first game of a doubleheader with Iowa to make him the winningest coach at Minnesota. With his 755th win he passed his mentor and Golden Gopher legend Dick Siebert.
Anderson also had a number of milestones in the 2001 season as he earned career victory number 700 on March 24 at Purdue, and became the Big Ten's all-time leader in conference victories with win number 296 on March 30 against Indiana. He later increased that total to 300, becoming the first coach in league history to reach 300 conference wins. By winning the 2001 Big Ten Tournament, the Golden Gophers received an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, making it the fourth straight season he had led them to NCAA play. Minnesota was the only Big Ten school at the time to accomplish that feat. Anderson has twice taken the Golden Gophers to the NCAA Tournament in four-straight seasons with the first from 1991 to 1994.
In 1998, he became one of the youngest coaches to surpass the 600-win mark with a victory over Northwestern. Along with his on-the-field contributions, Anderson continues to improve other areas of the program to attract top-notch student-athletes. With a facility like the Metrodome at his disposal, he has been able to attract some of the upper echelon collegiate baseball programs in the nation to play in the annual Dairy Queen Baseball Classic at the Metrodome. The tournament, formerly known as the Hormel Foods Classic, is in its 27th year of existence and is highly regarded amongst the collegiate baseball community as one of the best in-season tournaments in the nation. This year's tournament, which will take place in Tucson, Ariz, after collapse of the Metrodome roof, features Oklahoma State, South Alabama and Washington State.
Although building a respected baseball program is one of Anderson's main concerns, developing quality student-athletes is his utmost priority. During his tenure, Anderson has coached a total of 188 Academic All-Big Ten selection. Last spring, the team had 14 players honored as Academic All-Big Ten selections, and 27 as Scholar-Athlete Award winners for maintaining a career GPA of 3.00 or better. The team also had a 3.12 GPA for the fall semester in 2010. In 1993,
Anderson experienced one of his career highlights as he served as Head Coach for the USA Baseball Team in the summer. He guided the squad to a 30-16 record during the summer tour, including a silver medal at the Intercontinental Cup in Parna, Italy. At the time, it was the highest medal finish for the USA in that event since 1988. The team also went 8-1 in the World Championships. Anderson also served as an assistant for the USA Baseball team in 1989-90.
Anderson has also co-authored a book entitled Why Good Coaches Quit--And How You Can Stay in the Game. Written with prominent sports psychologist Rick Aberman, Anderson offers practical solutions to the problems that coaches at all levels of the game routinely encounter both on and off the field.
A graduate of Nashwauk-Keewatin High School in northern Minnesota, Anderson came to the University of Minnesota as a player, hoping to catch on as a pitcher for the Siebert-led Maroon and Gold. After suffering an arm injury that ended his playing career, Anderson decided to continue his association with the program as a student coach. He was voted Team MVP by the players of the 1977 squad - a team that featured former Minnesota Twin and future Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, and finished sixth at the College World Series. After receiving his degree from Minnesota, Anderson began his coaching career as a graduate assistant under Siebert in 1978. After Siebert's death in December of 1978, Anderson was elevated to the position of assistant coach under then-head coach George Thomas.
Upon Thomas' resignation after the 1981 season, Anderson was named as the 13th coach in Golden Gopher history. At age 26 when he took the job, he was the youngest baseball coach in Big Ten Conference history. Known for fairness in dealing with his players, Anderson believes his number-one responsibility is to prepare his athletes for the next 50 years of their lives - a hallmark that has been a staple of Minnesota baseball for generations.
To accomplish this, he does everything within his power to provide them with the necessary opportunities to mature and gain a greater understanding of life's lessons. That way, when his players leave, they have the potential to become leaders in their respective communities and careers. Anderson and his wife, Jan, of 20 years are the parents of an 18-year old daughter Erin Elizabeth.