Team USA

There was a time when Team USA baseball practiced and played games at its home base in nearby Millington, Tenn, just outside of Memphis. That was when baseball was still an Olympic sport.

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There is actually a move now to make it an Olympic sport again by 2020. So there is hope for an Olympic return for baseball.

But in the last decade or so things have changed, and Team USA has its home base in Cary, N.C., which is ironically where the Ole Miss Rebels stayed during the recent Raleigh Regional.

Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco is back in North Carolina now, serving as the pitching coach for the Collegiate National Team. The head coach is TCU's Jim Schlossnagle. He chose Bianco a few months ago as his pitching coach.

"We play games ten days in a row," Bianco said of the games that began this week. The team was 2-0 heading into its game Monday night.

Team USA leaves July 3 to play games in Japan.

"This summer the schedule is comprised of two big series, one against the Japanese National Team, and a series back here in the states against the Cuban National Team," Bianco said.

It's the first time Bianco has been a part of Team USA as a coach. He's had seven players in his 13 seasons at Ole Miss on the squad but none this year. Those seven were Seth Smith, Stephen Head, Zack Cozart, Lance Lynn, Cody Satterwhite, Drew Pomeranz, and Bobby Wahl.

"Everybody talked about what an awesome experience it was," Bianco said. "Usually they play in minor league ballparks. They're playing with the best players in the country. They're also competing and representing your country. I think that's the reason everybody gets excited about being a part of it."

How can the experience of him being a part of the USA Collegiate National Team coaching staff help the Ole Miss program?

"There are a lot of high-profile coaches who have been the head coach or an assistant coach," Bianco said. "They certainly thought it was a benefit for their programs. Professionally it helps because you're there all summer with some highly-respected coaches. It's a month of being around them and exchanging ideas. I know when Coach (Skip) Bertman went twice, he came back and there were things he would change in our practices that were specific to what he learned that summer and that he liked better than what we were doing.

"I think it's just another way to spread the word of Ole Miss baseball in the summer, and that's another reason that it's good when we are involved in it as a coach or as some of our players have been."

Good Deed From New Rebel

Incoming Rebel left-handed pitcher Evan Anderson recently picked up a honor and then made quite the selfless gesture himself.

Evan Anderson
File Photo

Anderson was named The Oklahoman's Little All-City Player of the Year for the second consecutive season after going 6-2 with a 1.77 ERA, striking out 85 in 51 innings. Anderson also hit .442 with 12 home runs, 38 RBIs and 21 stolen bases.

But it was beyond those numbers that Anderson showed his true colors. Here, by Jenni Carlson of the Daily Oklahoman, are excerpts from her recent column.

Every spring, I have the privilege of calling eight high school seniors and telling them they're receiving a college scholarship.

It's one of the best parts of my job.

Our scholar-athlete program honors the best of the best from around the area, and the reactions from the scholarship winners are always genuine and heartwarming. Most are surprised. All are thankful and grateful.

But this year, there was a reaction like never before.

Evan Anderson didn't want his scholarship.

Oh, the baseball standout from Dale High School was as thankful and grateful as any winner I've ever talked to. But he wanted someone else to have the money from his scholarship.

Skipping ahead in Carlson's story, she writes…..

After an EF4 tornado destroyed homes and killed two near Shawnee on May 19 — it missed his house by only a quarter mile — Anderson spent four or five days volunteering around the area. The hours were long. The work was tedious. One day, it was cool and rainy and pretty darn miserable. But the reward was obvious.

"You could tell the people really appreciated it," Anderson said.

So, when I called to tell Anderson about his scholarship, he had those people on his mind. He told me he wanted to donate his scholarship money to tornado victims.

Never before had one of the scholar-athlete scholarship winners wanted to do anything like that.

Even though I thought it was one of the coolest gestures ever, I felt it necessary to tell him that the scholarship money could be deferred a few years...

Anderson wasn't swayed.

He wanted to donate the money.

After discussion at The Oklahoman and with our program partners at the Jim Thorpe Association, everyone signed off on Anderson's wishes. A $1,000 donation to the American Red Cross will be made in his name in the coming weeks.

Along the way, everyone said how neat they thought the whole thing was.

I couldn't agree more.

Even if I'm calling kids to tell them that they've won scholarships for many years to come, I'll never hear a reaction better than this.

Anderson will arrive at Ole Miss this week, along with other members of the newest class of Rebels, to begin his college career.

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