Day with Anderson leads to energizing dose of life in the fast lane

RUN, BRADY, RUN AH A

February 14, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

NEWPORT BEACH, CALIFORNIA — Newport Beach, Calif. -- It is an almost legendary location. The southernmost tip of Balboa Island features one of the most famous -- and treacherous -- bodysurfing spots on the California coast. Everybody around here has a story about The Wedge, where the riptides and the bone-crushing waves have provided the ultimate challenge for a generation of local beach bangers.

Three hundred feet across the sand, Brady Anderson is just waking up to a truly picture-book California morning.

His off-season address begs for a psychoanalytical explanation. Could it be a coincidence that he has settled within a long fly ball of this natural monument to reckless youth? Isn't this just like Brady, who has had so much fun the past year cultivating his youthful, reckless, off-the-left-field-wall image?

He doesn't see the connection. The beach pad was rented by former fellow Oriole Rene Gonzales, who now plays for the California Angels. Anderson is only here for a couple of months of winter, which isn't the prime bodysurfing season. He simply enjoys the beach culture . . . and the luxury that his new-found stardom affords.

It is 10 a.m., and the front door has just rattled very loudly. Anderson agreed several days earlier to spend a day under observation, and already he is beginning to regret it. He is bleary-eyed when he opens the door.

"The first thing you need to know about a day with Brady Anderson is that it begins with two more hours of sleep," he says, then goes back to bed.

No rest for the weary

The first thing you really need to know about a day with Brady Anderson is that there will not be many more restful moments. The day may begin at the beach -- where the most pressing concern last week was getting a sputtering Jet Ski back to shore -- but the afternoon will be a whirlwind of activity that is geared almost entirely to the pursuit of athletic excellence.

Brady and Gonzo are a package deal in that respect. Both seem hopelessly devoted to having a good time, and yet both are obsessive about their training regimen.

The dichotomy is apparent all about their winter home.

On the wet bar, there is a large M&M's dispenser and the latest copy of Muscle and Fitness magazine.

Seated in the corner of the living room is an almost life-size stuffed gorilla wearing flowered swim trunks and an earring, but there is little room for anyone else to sit down.

The couch and coffee table have been pushed together to make room for a weight bench and a heavy (punching) bag. Anderson fills his breakfast bowl with cereal from two different boxes, and the day begins.

On the beach

The Wedge may be a place of broken bones and bad vibrations, but it is a relaxing backdrop for one of baseball's newest stars. Anderson, 28, is trying to make the most of the final days of a well-deserved winter vacation before heading to Florida for spring training, so a perfect day cannot begin anywhere else.

He is coming off a breakthrough season that established him as one of baseball's best all-around players. He just signed a one-year contract that will pay him $1.855 million for the 1993 season. He must now face the pressure of producing a suitable encore to a sensational 1992 performance. But if that pressure is weighing heavily upon his mind, it doesn't show.

The off-season has been a series of adventures, both large and small. Anderson went on the Orioles cruise again. He played in the MTV Charity Softball Game. He recently filmed his first national television commercial for Nike. And the other day, he and Gonzo saved an injured sea gull.

Anderson: "Yeah, we were out here, and we saw it out in the water. It had a broken wing, so we went into the water and got it."

Gonzales: "What do you mean, 'we?' "

Anderson: "Well, I went and got the boxing gloves [to handle the bird gingerly]."

Gonzales: "Then we went a few rounds with him before the animal people came. Actually, we kept him in the back yard until the animal people came to pick him up. I think they were disappointed. They thought we said eagle."

The two of them walk a little farther down the beach, where a coconut has washed up on shore. It is an oily black and looks like it has been afloat for weeks, but Gonzales cracks it open and tastes the white interior. Life is sweet.

Back to business

Traffic is light along Pacific Coast Highway as Anderson winds his black BMW toward the University of California at Irvine -- where he played three years before signing with the Boston Red Sox. UC Irvine has since dropped its baseball program, but Anderson still goes there regularly to use the track facilities.

It is a 20-minute ride that carries Anderson from one world to another -- long before he reaches his destination. Through the miracle of cellular technology, he can help negotiate with the Orioles at the same time he is negotiating the roadway.

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