There is a fantastic story over at The Postgame by Steve Henson that went live late Monday night. Thanks to Old Gator I read it this morning. The topic: Bing Russell, Lou Gehrig’s last home run bat and a whole lot more.
Bing Russell is the father of actor Kurt Russell and the grandfather of former big leaguer Matt Franco. In the late 1930s and 1940s he was a mega-batboy/clubbie for the Yankees. It was more than just a temp job for a kid, as he traveled with the team and forged friendships with many of the stars despite being a kid. In April 1939, Gehrig hit two homers in an exhibition game against the Dodgers. They would be the last two homers he’d hit in any setting. When he came back to the dugout he gave his bat to Bing Russell. That bat is now up for auction and will fetch a zillion dollars.
But the story is about far more than the bat. It’s about Bing and his interesting life in and around baseball. He went on to an acting career — which of course led to Kurt Russell’s acting career — but also owned a minor league team in Portland, Oregon in the 1970s, maintained a lifelong friendship with Lefty Gomez and then followed Matt Franco around the minors, cheering on his grandson.
Just a wonderful story about what sounds like a wonderful life. Definitely take a gander.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.