Bill Russell (baseball)

Bill Russell (baseball)

Infobox MLB retired
name=Bill Russell

birthdate=birth date and age|1948|10|21
Pittsburg, Kansas
debutdate=April 7
debutteam=Los Angeles Dodgers
finaldate=October 1
finalteam=Los Angeles Dodgers
stat1label=Batting average
stat3label=Runs batted in
teams=As Player
* Los Angeles Dodgers (by|1969-by|1986)As Manager
* Los Angeles Dodgers (by|1996-by|1998)
* 3x All-Star selection (1973, 1976, 1980)
* World Series champion (1981)

William Ellis Russell (born October 21 1948, in Pittsburg, Kansas) is a former shortstop, coach and manager in Major League Baseball. Russell played his entire 18-year, 2,181-game career with the Los Angeles Dodgers as the starting shortstop for four National League pennant winners and one World Series champion.


A righthanded batter and thrower, Russell came to the Dodgers as a 20-year-old outfielder in by|1969, and his first two MLB seasons were spent in the outfield (veteran Maury Wills was the Dodger shortstop). During the 1970-71 offseason, Russell was converted to a second baseman, and then - the following year - to shortstop, becoming a regular in by|1972. Russell was the club's everyday shortstop for the next 12 years, anchoring an infield that included third baseman Ron Cey, second baseman Davey Lopes and first baseman Steve Garvey. Russell batted .263 over his regular season career, and - coincidentally - posted the same average in 23 World Series games in 1974, 1977, 1978, and 1981. Russell's finest Fall Classic was in 1978, when he garnered 11 hits and batted .423 in a losing effort against the New York Yankees. He also hit .337 over five National League Championship Series.

After his retirement as a player in 1986, Russell became a coach on manager Tommy Lasorda's staff in 1987. In 1992-93, he piloted the Dodgers' AAA farm club, the Albuquerque Dukes of the Pacific Coast League, but posted losing records each season. He then rejoined Lasorda and the Los Angeles coaching staff in 1994 and was considered by many the heir apparent to Lasorda's job. In June by|1996, the 68-year-old skipper suffered a mild heart attack and Russell was named acting manager. But when Lasorda's health had recovered, the Dodger front office decided to make Russell's appointment permanent on July 29. Russell finished the 1996 season, compiling a record of 49-37 and bringing the Dodgers home in second place, earning the NL wild card spot in the playoffs before being swept in three games by the Atlanta Braves in the Division Series. The following year, he directed the Dodgers to an 88-74 mark and another runner-up finish in the NL West. However, when the 1998 club stumbled to a 36-38 start - and with the News Corporation poised to buy the team - Russell was released June 21 in a general housecleaning. His final managing record was 173-149 (.537).

His departure from the Dodgers followed arguably the most unpopular trade in Los Angeles sports history as the club's new ownership traded Mike Piazza along with third baseman Todd Zeile to the Florida Marlins. Neither Russell or general manager Fred Claire were ever notified of the trade. He and Claire's departure signaled an end to a 30-plus year association. The departure of Bill Russell as manager and Fred Claire as general manager is covered in Claire's autobiography "My 30 Years in Dodger Blue". He went on to coach for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and managed farm teams of both Tampa Bay and the San Francisco Giants, the Dodgers' archrival.

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