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Must-click link: Bing Russell and Lou Gehrig’s bat

Nov 3, 2011, 8:41 AM EDT

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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.

  1. halladaysbiceps - Nov 3, 2011 at 8:54 AM

    What a great read. I knew before that Kurt Russell had played some minor league ball, but knew nothing about his father Bing nor that he is the uncle of Matt Franco. Good stuff.

  2. yankeesfanlen - Nov 3, 2011 at 9:04 AM

    Isn’t it amazing that some of the best baseball stories involve major stars, but don’t revolve around them? It’s Gehrig’s bat, but Bing’s life.

    • halladaysbiceps - Nov 3, 2011 at 9:12 AM

      True. Just think that Gehrig’s bat sat all those years under an umbrella stand. And the bat now could fetch 750K+ in auction, not that the Russell family is hurting for money :)

  3. Old Gator - Nov 3, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    With all the rotten news one has wade through every day – war, famine, stupid politicians stoking xenophobia and division, earthquakes, monetary crises, the new Feesh uniforms, it was such a pleasure to wake up to this little saga this morning. The idea that Lou Gehrig’s bat came to rest under the umbrella rack of Snake Plisskin’s dad renewed my faith in the absurd – and that is a gift for which one cannot be too grateful.

    • cur68 - Nov 3, 2011 at 1:32 PM

      The story of Bing, the bat and a Snake Plisskin reference? Man, it’s all down hill from here in the post & comments section today….

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