Bill Russell

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Note: This page is for 1970s infielder Bill Russell; for the pitcher in 1944, click here.


William Ellis Russell

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]

"Bill Russell, then, is really a historical one-of-a-kind, the only major league outfielder to convert to shortstop and have a solid career." - Bill James, in The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract

Bill Russell played shortstop for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1972 to 1983, replacing legend Maury Wills early in the 1972 season; he had made his debut at the start of the 1969 season but played mostly as an outfielder his first three seasons. A steady player, Russell was sometimes criticized for making too many errors. The truth is, however, that the Dodger Stadium infield during those years was composed of crushed brick which gave it a beautiful red appearance but was very rough and produced many bad hops. Bill Russell got his nickname, "Ropes", when then Dodger manager Walter Alston told veteran Ken Boyer to "teach him the ropes," a common cliché then and now when veteran players are asked to mentor younger players.

Russell was a three-time All-Star who played in four World Series, most notably the 1978 World Series when he hit .423. He came up as the Dodgers' fourth outfielder in 1969 and 1970, playing mostly right field but also some center field. In 1971 he split his time largely between outfield and second base, and so it was only in his fourth major league season when he became an everyday shortstop. Davey Lopes, who was to become the Dodgers' second baseman, was also a minor league outfielder and the two of them were outfielders together on the 1970 Spokane Indians. Another member of the team's long-time 1970s infield quartet, 1B Steve Garvey, had started out as a third baseman, so only 3B Ron Cey was playing at his original position on those great Dodger teams.

After his playing career, Russell managed the Dodgers for parts of three seasons, from 1996 to 1998 and found some initial success, taking the Dodgers to the postseason his first year, and to a second-place finish with 88 wins in 1997. Because Walter Alston and Tommy Lasorda had each managed for so long, there was an expectation that Russell might also manage for 20 years, but the Dodgers were not disposed to allow that, as they were entering a period of upper management turmoil that would see a constant turnover of personnel.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 3-time NL All-Star (1973, 1976 & 1980)
  • Won a World Series with the the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1981
  • Post-season Appearances: 1 (1996, Wild Card)

Preceded by
Tommy Lasorda
Los Angeles Dodgers Manager
Succeeded by
Glenn Hoffman

Year-By-Year Managerial Record[edit]

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs Notes
1992 Albuquerque Dukes Pacific Coast League 65-78 8th Los Angeles Dodgers
1993 Albuquerque Dukes Pacific Coast League 71-72 5th Los Angeles Dodgers
1996 Los Angeles Dodgers National League 49-37 2nd Los Angeles Dodgers Lost NLDS replaced Tom Lasorda (41-35) on June 25
1997 Los Angeles Dodgers National League 88-74 2nd Los Angeles Dodgers
1998 Los Angeles Dodgers National League 36-38 -- Los Angeles Dodgers replaced by Glenn Hoffman on June 22
1999 Orlando Rays Southern League 70-68 5th Tampa Bay Devil Rays League Champs
2001 Shreveport Swamp Dragons Texas League 54-81 8th San Francisco Giants

Further Reading[edit]

  • Bill Russell (as told to George Vass): "The Game I'll Never Forget", Baseball Digest, February 1984, pp. 83-85. [1]

Related Sites[edit]