Jimmy Anderson was the Pirates’ ninth-round pick in the 1994 draft out of high school in Virginia. Moving his way up the Pirates system, he made his MLB debut in 1999 and threw reasonably well that season. Then he had three mediocre years in the Pirates rotation in 2000, 2001 and 2002, averaging 0.6 bWAR over the three seasons in which the Bucs lost 93, 100 and 89 games.
He moved on to the Reds in 2003, didn’t throw well (or much) there, and the Cubs signed him as a free agent before the 2004 season.
That 2004 team was pretty stacked, so the lefthanded Anderson started the year at Triple-A Iowa, where he posted a 4.28 ERA in 16 appearances (15 starts). He was called up May 27 to replace Todd Wellemeyer, who hit the disabled list with shoulder issues.
Anderson’s first five outings as a Cub were in garbage time in losses. Then he threw a scoreless 10th inning of a game the Cubs won in Anaheim in 15 innings June 13.
The next night the Cubs were in Houston. Mark Prior was the scheduled starter. Prior had started the year on the DL and this was just his third start of 2004. As such, Dusty Baker was (yes, really!) keeping an eye on Prior’s pitch count.
Prior threw five shutout innings and the Cubs led 6-0 going to the bottom of the sixth. With 92 pitches thrown by Prior through five, Baker lifted him for Anderson.
Anderson gave up nothing in the sixth, seventh and eighth, and since the Cubs had used seven relievers (including Anderson!) the previous day in the 15-inning game at Anaheim, Dusty let him throw the ninth. He allowed two runs — and Baker had Francis Beltran and LaTroy Hawkins up in the pen — but finished things off for a 7-2 win. It was his only MLB save.
Here’s the final out of the game. Isn’t it weird to see this random guy wearing No. 49?
Four days later Anderson was shipped back to Iowa, and on July 2 was traded to the Red Sox for no one you’ve ever heard of (trust me, unless you know this guy). He made five appearances for Boston and then was released — and the Cubs signed him back. He went to spring training with the Cubs in 2005, when the photo at the top of this post was taken.
The Cubs let him go at the end of spring camp, and then he went on a minor-league odyssey through the Twins, Devil Rays, Astros and Marlins systems through 2006. As of 2013 he was giving instruction at a baseball school in his hometown in Virginia.
Here’s the entire game from June 14, 2004: