Max Anderson has dreamed of playing for his hometown team since he was four years old.
Now, that moment has come, as he is a freshman infielder at Nebraska.
Anderson gives credit to his family as the main reason he started playing baseball at such a young age. His father and older brother both played high school baseball, and as a result he grew up surrounded by the sport.
“I remember playing baseball at the age of four or five and I hit my first home run off the top of the fence,” Anderson said. “I grew up going to all my older brother’s games, and pretty much anything he did I wanted to do.”
Anderson’s family has had Husker baseball tickets since he was six years old, and he said he hopes to give his family the same memories supporting the team as he had growing up. Having their support and knowing they will always be there for him is something Anderson cherishes every time he steps onto the field.
Anderson doesn't mind the pressure that comes with being an in-state recruit on the team he grew up cheering for. For him, baseball is an escape, and he hopes to bring that demeanor to the Huskers.
“Even practicing, it has been a place where I can just go and kind of clear my mind and not worry about anything else,” Anderson said. “A big thing for me is remembering how much fun the game was when I was real little, and even now I have to remember it’s still a game.”
After an impressive four-year stretch at Millard West High School, Anderson was named Nebraska’s Gatorade Player Of The Year following his shortened senior year. He starred at the plate, hitting 10 home runs and knocking in 26 runs with a .353 average.
The 6-foot, 195-pound infielder was a co-captain for the All-Nebraska team in 2019 and led the Wildcats to an impressive Class A state championship victory — the first in program history. Anderson will look to add versatility to the Husker infield while also providing above-average pop with his bat, consistently hitting in the middle of the order during the fall scrimmages.
While he originally committed to Texas A&M in his sophomore year of high school, Anderson announced his de-commitment from the university in late June. However, due to the ability for players to come back for an extra year of eligibility and a shortened MLB draft, Anderson soon reopened his recruiting to look for a better opportunity.
Nearly a day later, Nebraska baseball head coach Will Bolt and his staff offered Anderson a scholarship. He accepted the Huskers’ offer over competing bids from Creighton and Kansas, becoming the last player from a solid 2020 recruiting class for the Huskers.
“It means a ton to me to play for my hometown state. I grew up my whole life here,” Anderson said. “Now that I’m the one on the field, coming to all those red-white scrimmages as a kid, it is pretty cool to finally be the one playing in it.”
Anderson stressed the unselfish nature of this team. He admitted the collegiate game moves a lot quicker and that preparation for the advanced level of play has been different.
“The best part of playing baseball is being able to play for the team and have their back and know they have mine,” Anderson said. “If you have a team that plays together and develops a chemistry for each other it really makes a big difference.”
Having curiosity for the game and wanting to get better is one of the reasons Anderson has grown into a talented player for the Huskers. He noted in the interview that the coaches are intense about what they do and that it is exciting to learn more from the highest level of play.
Anderson will look to settle into an infield role for the Huskers in the spring as he has been shuffled around throughout Nebraska’s fall scrimmages. His versatility has caught the eye of Bolt. Anderson has played all four infield positions and will look to make an impact in any way possible for the Huskers.
“I think the thing that we saw with him in high school is he just has a knack to find the barrel,” Bolt said in an earlier October press conference. “He's got enough bat speed to cover the inside part of the plate as well, and seems to square a lot of balls up.”
He has shown that his ability to swing the bat will carry over to Haymarket Park, evidenced by his hitting performances in the scrimmages. Anderson knocked in two runs to lead his team to a 4-2 victory last Thursday. Anderson could be a future every-day player, and will look to become a staple in this Nebraska lineup for years to come.
“Max is very mature for a freshman, just in terms of the way he shows up to the yard, he’s very even keel,” Bolt said. “We're going to have to get creative and figure out how we are going to get him at bats; he will get a shot as long as he continues to work hard.”
Where Anderson fits in with a talented Nebraska lineup will be a storyline to monitor this spring. Nebraska looks to recover from its rough start last season and hit the gates running in 2021 with Anderson being a huge focal point offensively.
“I feel like after all of the unknowns due to the pandemic, we kind of need some competition back in sports again,” Anderson said. “I am just really excited to get back out there and play with my new Huskers teammates.”