There are three fields at the Andover Station North baseball complex. The Andover City Council Aug. 28 decided to approve a request to name the field Anders Field.
Anders Flaa died Oct. 13, 2011 at the age of 14 after a two-year battle with brain cancer. According to his parents Brad and Marsha Flaa, Anders played both in-house Andover Baseball Association (ABA) ball and Gopher State fall ball from 2008 through 2010.
He started playing baseball at the age of five when his family was living in South Dakota and he continued playing when the family moved to Columbus, Ohio, and then Andover.
Anders last played for the Andover Braves at a variety of positions in 2010. He was at the age when players still rotated through a number of positions, but his favorite spots were second base and pitcher. His parents said the most fun they had was watching him compose himself and throw the out his team needed.
After Anders died, one of his friends posted on their Facebook page that he never heard Anders says anything bad about anyone, and never heard anyone say anything bad about Anders. His parents said nobody could ask for a better legacy than that. It means a lot to them that Anders is being recognized.
Besides the field name, ABA held the first annual Anders Flaa Memorial Tournament earlier this summer and there is a display in the concession building at Andover Station North with Anders’ jersey and a photo of him.
“We’re thrilled to have positive reminders of him in such a prominent place, and we think it’s good for his friends and teammates to have a way to remember him, not only this year but in the years to come,” Brad and Marsha Flaa said.
The request to rename the middle field as Anders Field came from the Andover Baseball Association via a letter sent to the city June 8.
“Anybody who played baseball with Anders loved him,” said ABA Administrator Sheila Schueller, whose daughter went to school with Anders.
“He was the kid on the bench who was rooting for everybody, high-fiving everybody,” Schueller told the Andover Park and Recreation Commission on July 19.
The city has a policy on naming places after people and Councilmembers Tony Howard and Julie Trude felt ABA met the requirements and thus they had no problems with the one field being renamed Anders Field. The commission did recommend naming the field Anders Memorial Field and having a space where a plaque could be placed to recognize others who have died and made contributions to ABA.
But Trude felt the word “memorial” was too sad of a word to use when remembering the positive impact that a person had.
An MRI conducted on Dec. 16, 2009 at the Blaine Medical Center showed that Anders had a tumor the size of a golf ball on his brain, his parents told ABC Newspapers when interviewed for an Aug. 20, 2010 story.
The tumor was removed during a Dec. 21, 2009 surgery at the University of Minnesota. At the time of his interview in August 2010, Anders was doing fine. He had just finished the summer baseball season and was getting ready to start fall baseball. He still had to take a chemo pill once a month and regularly visit the doctor, but he was through with radiation treatment.
During the Andover Family Fun Fest 5K run/walk in July 2010, about 70 people walked for him, wearing blue t-shirts that said “Team Anders.” On the back of the shirt was a baseball diamond and a pair of baseball bats.
In November 2010, the cancer re-appeared in an MRI, his parents said. It was generally in the same spot of his brain as the original tumor, but this one could not be removed by surgery. The chosen alternative was to begin a treatment called blood-brain barrier disruption in which chemotherapy was surgically introduced directly into his brain, as close to the cancer as possible.
Although this kept the disease from spreading, the treatments were very hard on Anders. Over the course of the next year Anders began to have more trouble with balance and memory.
By October 2011, the disease spread to a point where doctors could no longer control it and the family went to Amplatz Children’s Hospital where Anders died Oct. 13.
“There was not one time over that two-year period when Anders felt sorry for himself or asked ‘why me?’” his parents said. “He was an inspiration to us with his positive outlook and belief that God would take care of him, and that’s where we believe he is now, in heaven, without pain, having more fun than we can even imagine.”
Eric Hagen is at firstname.lastname@example.org