Dane Anderson finished the summer the same way he finished his senior season at San Mateo — hitting bombs.
As PenCities 18U Black closed its season Sunday with a 10-8 loss to Mountain View at Sea Cloud Park, Anderson emerged with one of the most impressive swings of the day. The recent high school graduate unloaded on a seventh-inning fastball and sent it soaring over the tree line in left field.
PenCities manager Brad Davis was adamant the distance the home run ball traveled was at least 370 feet. Measurements aside, the ball was crushed, plain and simple.
“That ball would have been out of any major league stadium,” Davis said.
The evening game marked the season finale for a PenCities summer club organization that fielded four teams at three different age levels this season. The 18U Black squad posted a 14-5 record, with the team playing 19 of its projected 21-game schedule.
The team was something of a godsend for Anderson, who entered the summer with a big decision to make — whether or not to continue his baseball career at the collegiate level. His senior season at San Mateo got off to a late start. He joined the Bearcats midway through the season after suffering a shoulder injury that cut his varsity football season short earlier in the spring.
After losing his junior season in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Anderson’s late start as a senior left him without any serious offers to play college baseball. He considered stepping away for the game after being accepted academically at several Pac-12 universities. But when it was announced PenCities — the club he played for the three previous summers — announced it was a go, Anderson knew he’s found a baseball lifeline.
“I was kind of scrambling to find a place to play,” Anderson said. “But then they were putting together this PenCities team and I said I’ve love to do it.”
Anderson has since enrolled at Cañada College and is readying to take the field there later this month.
“I didn’t want to give [baseball] up,” Anderson said. “I really wanted to play.”
Anderson had initially wanted to play Palomino League baseball for the now disbanded Peninsula White Sox, long coached by Aragon manager Lenny Souza.
It was a strange sight as the sun set on the 2021 summer baseball season at Sea Cloud Park not to see Souza tending to the regulation diamond, as was his postgame ritual. Anderson said he approached Souza about wanting to play for the team after San Mateo’s season finale against Aragon in the spring. He was disappointed to learn there was to be no Peninsula White Sox season in 2021.
“I would have loved to play for Coach Lenny,” Anderson said. “Seeing how he treats his guys … he’s a fun guy to be around.”
That’s when Davis entered the picture. Not that the longtime Foster City baseball coach had any ambition to coach summer ball prior to taking the managerial gig with PenCities. He certainly had the resume to coach a summer team, having coached in Foster City Little League for 10 years, and another six years with tournament teams.
So, when he learned PenCities was revving up its 13U and 14U teams, and was looking to potentially field a team predominantly of high school players, he emailed Dennis Millstein, president of PenCities, and got a swift response.
“He said ‘yes’ instantly,” Davis said.
Along with Anderson, PenCities 18U Black had just one other high school graduate on roster, San Mateo grad Jack Gispan. PenCities rostered 18 total players, the vast majority of which signed up within a week of the team being announced.
“[The turnout] was actually high because there was no baseball last year, and guys wanted to be ready for their senior seasons of high school,” Davis said.
PenCities 18U Black was composed of players from San Mateo, Aragon and Hillsdale.
“I think bringing guys together from three high schools, you never know how it’s going to go,” Davis said. “But I think it went really well.”