Wild About Larry

A former Phillie who plays ass quarters at Downey's? No wonder we love him.

By G.W. Miller III
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Oct. 22, 2008

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"You should have known it was me as soon as he said 'jackass,'" deadpans Andersen, the dry-witted prankster who's the only Phillie who played in both the 1983 and 1993 World Series.

This week Anderson will be in the radio booth as the Phillies play their first World Series contest since that loveable, mullet-sporting band of vagabonds battled Toronto 15 years ago.

Larry Andersen, 55, arrived in the broadcast booth in 1998 following the death of Richie Ashburn, the former centerfielder and long-time color analyst who remains among the most beloved Philadelphia sports figures ever.

"Nobody could ever fill his shoes," Andersen says. "I like to say that I came in like an extra guy from the bullpen."

Known as much for his shenanigans as for his pitching--he once snuck into his manager's hotel room and made cherry Jell-O in the toilets--Anderson was hired specifically for his quirky personality. Among his early regular duties was to perform a "Shallow Thoughts" segment with broadcast partner Harry Kalas.

"Why does sour cream have an expiration date?" Andersen asked rhetorically on television as Kalas listened, dumbfounded. "It's already sour."

Another day he queried, "Why do you park in the driveway and drive on the parkway?"

His personal favorite shallow thought: "Why do you sing 'Take me out to the ballgame' when you're already there?"

Before broadcasting for the Phillies, Andersen had no on-air experience. He stumbled his way along, learning from Kalas and the others. Now his game analysis sounds as comfortable on air as his conversations here in the bar.

"I've become much more a fan of the game," Andersen says of his decade as a color analyst. "When you play, you're in the middle of it and it's hard to appreciate sometimes."

Anderson played in 699 big-league games with six different teams over 17 seasons.

In 1983 he says he felt like a bit player on a team full of future Hall of Famers--Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt, Tony Perez, Joe Morgan and Steve Carlton.

"I remember walking into the clubhouse and thinking, 'What the hell am I doing here?'" Andersen recalls.

In 1993, however, renowned for his ear-splitting, on-cue belching, he found himself surrounded by a motley crew of pigpen players--Mitch Williams, Lenny Dykstra, John Kruk and Danny Jackson, among others. They'd spend all night drinking beer in the locker room, talking baseball long after games ended. Once, when there was a day game after a night game in San Francisco, Andersen and Kruk slept on the trainer's tables rather than stumble back to the hotel.

"I miss that camaraderie," says Andersen, who still proudly wears his 1993 National League championship ring. "That's the hardest thing about not being in the game anymore."

As we talk at Downey's, a steady stream of people approach, shake his hand, ask him about Curt Schilling and Dave Hollins, and throw more trivia at him.

"I love this town, the fans," Andersen says later. "They want to talk about the Phillies and that's what I do. I'm like an ambassador for the team."

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