Tyler Anderson’s notepad program helped him become an All-Star.

The Brain began three decades ago when a budding junior college baseball coach from Southern California first entered the Division I program.

For George Horton, becoming an assistant at Cal State Fullerton in 1990 was like drinking water from a fire hose.

So, to keep himself organized, Horton began to write everything down in a notebook.

“It started as a recruiting pad,” he said.

But for the rest of his coaching career, which included 11 seasons as Fullerton’s head coach and 11 more with the Oregon Ducks, he oversaw just about everything that was his job.

Literally, from game plans to phone numbers and mundane daily conversations, just about everything.

“It was my counterweight to remember things,” Horton said. “I suffer from CDO. It’s OKR, but the letters are in alphabetical order, as they should be.”

Over the years, Horton’s system, nicknamed “the brain”, has become legendary among his players.

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turnera Fullerton player from 2003 to 2005, laughed when he recently remembered Horton’s collection of notebooks, which were always on hand to get them at a moment’s notice.

Angelcatcher Kurt Suzuki, Turner’s teammate at Fullerton, also chuckled when he was reminded of his old coach’s daily routine.

“Brain?” Suzuki asked rhetorically. “He wore it everywhere.”

Tyler Anderson would also get mad at Horton’s meticulous method when the Dodgers pitcher was on the coach’s first few teams in Oregon from 2009 to 2011.

“He took notes on everything,” Anderson said. “He’s on a completely different level.”

Once Anderson got to the pros, he began to develop his own note-taking process.

It’s not as difficult as Horton’s, but for the 32-year-old left-hander, it’s become an important daily routine.

An essential baseball magazine in a black leather notebook with an orange elastic band.

An invaluable resource that helped the seven-year veteran pave the way for a major league journeyman career and his first All-Star this season.

“It helped me focus a little more,” Anderson said. “There’s a balance, but I think it’s just good to keep an eye on things.”

Saturday was not an ordinary day for Anderson.

In the morning, he woke up to a call from manager Dave Roberts, who told him that after starting the season with a 10-1 record and a 2.96 ERA, he had been added to the All-Star Game as a National League late injury replacement.

“Obviously you’re hoping, but I didn’t expect it in any way,” Anderson said. “It’s a huge honor.”

He was soon serenaded with text messages from the Dodgers’ group chat. When he showed up at the stadium for the team’s final series against the Angels, the congratulations continued.

“We got a smile from him today,” pitching coach Mark Pryor joked about the infamous stoic southpaw. “It was good.”

By Saturday afternoon, Anderson was even thinking about changing his family’s plans for the All-Star break to see if their tickets for their planned trip to Disneyland that week could be refunded.

“It’s a whole process,” he said with a chuckle.

There was one thing that didn’t change.

After completing a few daily exercises, pre-game throws, and other typical daily activities, he opened his Rhodia-branded leather notebook, jotted down each session, and cataloged the information he’d been collecting for the better part of a decade.

Dodgers pitcher Tyler Anderson marks Chicago Cubs outfielder Ian Happ during a July 8, 2022 game at Dodger Stadium.

When Ian Hupp of the Chicago Cubs attempted to run over Dodgers pitcher Tyler Anderson while trying to score a goal, Anderson made sure to push him.

(Ashley Landis/Associated Press)

“Every day I just write down what I do,” Anderson said.

Some examples:

“I’ll go there and post 12 things I do to warm up, including stretching and shoulder exercises.”

“I’ll go play ball and write down how much I played ball.”

“Maybe if I was thinking about something when I was playing ball and it was a good line, maybe I’ll write down what the line was.”

“My workout, I’ll write down what it is, sets, reps, weights and all that stuff. Keep an eye on it all and then train and get healed after the game or something like that.”

He stopped to make sure he didn’t forget anything.

“I just write it all there,” he said.

The idea was inspired by Horton, but only came about after Anderson was selected 20th overall by the Colorado Rockies in 2011.

In college, the Oregon program was regulated enough to keep a pitcher organized. But once he hit the minors, he realized he needed to figure out his own daily routine and a way to keep track of it.

“I feel like it’s a big part of baseball, a good routine,” Anderson said. “So if I was going through this, I would be watching what I would do. That way, when I was doing well or I felt good, I could go back to it.”

Anderson’s notebooks – he believes he’s filled out 30 or 40 by now – have helped him throughout his career.

Anderson broke into the big leagues with three solid seasons in Colorado from 2016 to 2018, offsetting his 90-mph fastball speed with a staccato pitch and additional changes.

However, after missing much of 2019 due to major surgery on his left knee, he has performed below league average over the past two years, spending 2020 with the San Francisco Giants and 2021 with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Seattle Mariners. “.

When he signed an $8 million, one-year contract with the Dodgers this spring — bypassing the longer, lucrative offers he says he was getting from other teams — he didn’t even have a spot in the starting rotation, instead to open the season as the primary pitcher in the bullpen.

“I took the chance to move to this team and try to be on the winning team this year,” he said.

With his laptop in tow, lying in his locker at home and away, it led to a first half that few expected.

Anderson made 15 starts, helping to replace several injured members of the rotation. He leads the team in innings (97.1), using a new approach to his substitution to unleash his newfound efficiency. And his low ERA and sterling track record helped earn him his first career All-Star appearance, which he admitted was “a little confirmation”.

“It really just feels like I made the right decision to come here,” said Anderson, who started the season with a career high of 29-38 and a 4.62 ERA.

Roberts added, “It’s something that, looking at his path as a major league pitcher, betting on himself and wanting to sign with the Dodgers, it worked really well.”

Horton followed Anderson’s career closely, from his days as a pitcher in the Rockies, whose general manager was a good friend of Horton’s; to his inconsistent final seasons, of which Horton admitted, “I thought his best bullets had already been fired”; to his revival with the Dodgers, which included a recent pre-game reunion at Dodger Stadium between an old coach and his now All-Star student.

“His journey, how many speed bumps and hiccups he had, and his persistence and ability to stay with him and come out the other side,” Horton said, “so proud of it.”

Until I saw recent video featuring Anderson, who was drafted by the players’ union, however Horton realized that his old pitcher had taken the form of his note-taking system.

“They say the purest form of flattery is imitation,” Horton said. “I did guess what Tyler is using it for, for a diary. I think the brain works differently when you write something.”

A real brain, that is, not Horton’s notebook nickname.

Anderson keeps his notepad by habit more than anything else.

“I probably don’t need notebooks anymore,” he said. “I know it’s there every day.”

However, he calls himself a visual. He said he liked routine. And there’s still a part of him that takes solace in knowing that if he really starts to struggle, he’ll have a journal of thoughts, feelings, and techniques to go back to – always just a few pages to turn.

“It’s a good mental reminder when you’re writing something down,” Anderson said.

Pryor said Anderson’s note-taking process is not all that unusual for a major league pitcher. Pryor noted that former Dodgers right-hander Ross Stripling had a note-taking habit of his own and joked that his teammate Clayton Kershaw had “a notepad in his head”.

Dodgers starting pitcher Tyler Anderson sits in a dugout after playing the Chicago White Sox on June 9.

Dodgers starting pitcher Tyler Anderson sits in a dugout after playing the Chicago White Sox on June 9.

(Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press)

“Everyone has their own ritualistic approach to this,” Pryor said. “As well as [Anderson] this is the one who comes and writes everything down.”

Instead, Pryor sees it as part of Anderson’s broader approach to his methodical training, a trait that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Dodgers’ staff since the pitcher joined the team this spring.

“Definitely he’s tense,” Pryor said. “Every single day he comes up with a plan to get better and holds himself accountable. I think that’s the main thing. This is no coincidence. He comes well prepared.”

Roberts even drew a parallel between Anderson and Kershaw, who is known for his detailed daily routine and is the pitcher Roberts says Anderson has looked up to in his career.

“They’re both doing their homework,” Roberts said. “They are very well prepared.”

This week they will take part in the All-Star Game together; Kershaw for the ninth time, Anderson for the first.

“Having him end up being named All-Star,” Roberts said, “is something he will always remember.”

Notebook entries for a few days will verify this.