Spencer Andersen, still in high school, will be in uniform for new baseball team
RIDGEFIELD — He is still a Spudder, but he is a Raptor, too.
The best of both worlds for Spencer Andersen.
After months of hype, after months of construction at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex (RORC), it is Opening Day for the Ridgefield Raptors. The new team in the West Coast League will begin its 33-game home schedule tonight against the Yakima Valley Pippins. First pitch is 6:35 p.m. Gates open for this special event at 5:30.
The team is comprised mostly of college baseball players, but there is one player who is not yet in college.
Spencer Andersen will graduate from Ridgefield High School on Friday. This week, though, he is also in uniform with the Raptors.
“I’m super blessed to be on that field again,” said Andersen, who played his senior season with the Spudders at the RORC’s baseball diamond. “I hope to inspire young little leaguers and middle schoolers to do the same thing I did.”
Again, most of the players are already in college, looking to use the summer schedule to improve their skills in a wood bat league.
“I judged him by his character and the community aspect of him being a neighbor,” said Gus Farah, the team’s general manager.
Yes, the GM said, Andersen is a talent. But it is more than just baseball skill.
“The community deserves to have a Ridgefield player here for at least a couple of weeks,” Farah said.
Andersen is just thrilled to be the first high school player to be on the team. His high school coach, Nick Allen, is an assistant with the Raptors, too.
“It’s crazy. I never would have expected it,” Andersen said. “He put in a pretty good word for me. I’ve got to make the most of it.”
In fact, Andersen said he hopes the short-term contract will be extended. He plans on pitching and hitting for Lower Columbia College next academic year. As far as his role with the Raptors, he knows he is pitching. (In fact, he got an inning of work in an exhibition game on the road Sunday.)
Andersen signed with the Raptors in mid March, but his coach knew about the opportunity to play for the new home team well in advance. Andersen said Allen kept it from him so Andersen would stay focused during the winter workouts.
“I freaked out,” Andersen said when he was told of his summer baseball opportunity.
“Oh my gosh, I’m set. This is the best for me,” he said. “I feel I’ll be competing at the highest level because these guys have already been through it.”
Yes, it is a big deal for Andersen to represent Ridgefield as a member of the Raptors. But this is also some serious (and fun) business. This is a competitive league.
“It’s cool to see these guys from all around, who play college ball, and I get to play with these guys, compete with these guys,” Andersen said. “These guys will make me better, too.”
It will also be cool for Ridgefield fans to cheer on a Spudder.
“All my friends are so happy for me,” Andersen said.
There are sure to be a lot of fans in attendance tonight. The premium seats for the opener are sold out, Farah said. For the other tickets, he advised getting to the park early. The Raptors expect a large turnout, and not just for baseball. There will be a fireworks display after the game.
“The whole community has just been waiting and waiting,” Farah said. “All of a sudden, it’s going to happen. We all deserve this. The community that voted for it deserves this. The people in Southwest Washington who have been ignored by baseball, they deserve this.”
Well, “this” begins tonight.
For more information, go to the Raptors website at: https://ridgefieldraptors.com/