Columns by Ernie W. Webb III

Steve Anson: 1953-2014
Washburn coach Steve Anson

Washburn baseball coach Steve Anson died June 22 during a tree-trimming accident at his home. Anson had coached at Washburn since 1980, winning more than 800 games during his career.

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Webb: Remembering Coach Anson

Coach Steve Anson

The first time I spoke with Steve Anson, he’d just won his 500th game at Washburn. As he always did, Coach Anson deflected the credit to his team, which was in the midst of a 26-17 season.

Coach joked that he’d only won 500 games at Washburn because he’d been here since 1980. He said the same thing a few years ago when interviewed about winning his 800th game.

“If you’ve coached somewhere this long, you should win 800 games,” he said while laughing. “I can’t imagine being anywhere else. I’ll coach here as long as they’ll have me.”

In winning No. 500, Coach also got a great story, one he’d tell dozens of times during the final 15 years of his life. The team mobbed a stunned Anson after reaching what they thought was the milestone, only they did it after his 499th win. He jokingly wondered aloud if he needed to recruit more intelligent players.

That’s the Steve Anson we’ll remember.

Another one of this qualities was the ability to connect with everybody. During that first interview, Coach spent just as much time interviewing me as I did interviewing him, asking about my background and talking Major League Baseball for several minutes.

Twelve years later, within my first few weeks at the Alumni Association, Coach walked up to me at After Hours, congratulated me on the job and began to reminisce about that first interview in 1999.

“Hey, I got to celebrate winning 500 games twice,” he said. “How many people can say that?”

I often ran into Steve on campus. One day, he’d be at After Hours. A few days later, he was walking around Falley Field, preparing it for a practice. A few days later, he was giving a recruit a tour of the campus gym. He always took the time to introduce the recruits to Washburn faculty and staff they ran into during those tours.

In the last interview we did for The Ichabod, Coach Anson had just won his 800th game. True to his nature, he didn’t spend much time talking about milestones. He spoke about the opportunity he had every day to shape the lives on young men.

“Something I take great pride in is that fact that I’ve been here long enough now to coach the sons of several of my former players,” Anson said. “I think that’s special, to have the sons of my former players come here and play for me. That means an awful lot to me.”

That’s the Steve Anson we’ll remember.