Home run two ways

On July 26, 1950, James “Jim” Russell became the first to hit a home run from each side of the plate in one game as he assisted the Brooklyn Dodgers in a 7-5 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Russell hit 67 home runs in 10 seasons and kept a .267 batting average. He started his major career when the Pittsburgh Pirates bought his contract from the Portland Braves, a minor league team in 1942. The left fielder also played for the Boston Braves and Brooklyn Dodgers before his 1951 retirement. He played 16 games in his final season.

Russell never had the opportunity to finish high school because he had to work in a mine in his home town, Fayette City, Pennsylvania to assist his family financially. He played ball with rocks and tree limbs instead of the expensive bats and balls.  Unfortunately, he contracted rheumatic fever twice from working in the mines, leading to heart disease and causing him to slow down later in his career. The illness cut his career short, but his switch hitting abilities are still held as an achievement select batters can merely attempt to duplicate.

Russell passed away at age 69 on November 24, 1987.

To find out more about Jim Russell check out these links: Way back and gone and The Pecan Park Eagle

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