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Russell Nathan Jeanson Coltrane Martin Jr. (born February 15, 1983 in East York, Ontario, Canada) is a professional baseball player for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Martin has broken the record for stolen bases by a catcher with the Dodgers.
Martin was born in East York, Ontario. He grew up in Chelsea, Quebec, Canada and lived in Paris, France from the age of 8-10. Martin has an African-Canadian father, Russell Martin Sr., and a white, French-Canadian mother, singer and actress, Suzanne Jeanson. His parents separated when he was only two years old. "I don't really remember when my parents separated, and it's probably better that way because I know kids these days go through some tough times," says Martin. His father used to play saxophone in Montreal subway stations to help pay for his baseball training. Along with playing baseball in the Montreal neighborhood of Notre-Dame-De-Grâce, Martin played hockey for N.D.G Minor Hockey, where glimpses of his future all-star athleticism could be seen. He graduated from Polyvalente Edouard-Montpetit High School, which was the same high school attended by former teammate Eric Gagné. After graduating from high school, Martin took a junior college scholarship at Chipola College in Marianna, Florida.
In 2002, Martin was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 17th round. Martin was originally a third baseman before switching to catcher after a scout saw him playing for the Gulf Coast Dodgers in Rookie Ball and thought he showed more promise in that position. He was rated the best high school catcher in North America in the April 2002 Sporting News. Martin was a Florida State League All-Star catcher while with the Vero Beach Dodgers in 2004 and Baseball America 2nd Team Minor League All-Star and Southern League All-Star while with the Jacksonville Suns in 2005.
Although Martin was touted as a future major league player, in early 2005 the Dodgers acquired another developing catcher, Dioner Navarro. In early 2006, Martin traveled to the off-season home of pitcher Eric Gagné, his teammate and fellow native of Montreal. Martin had expressed an interest in playing for Canada in the World Baseball Classic, but Gagné advised him not to let anything get in the way of preparing to play in his first Major League season. Neither player participated in the Classic.
Both Martin and Navarro were invited to spring training in 2006. Both played well, but at the end of the spring Navarro was named the Dodgers' catcher, and Martin was sent to the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s. While Martin thrived in Las Vegas, Navarro played only adequately in Los Angeles, and showed signs of inexperience.
On May 5 2006, Martin was called up to the Dodgers after a wrist injury landed Navarro on the disabled list. He got two hits (including a double) in the game. His first hit was against Chris Capuano. The team has performed well since Martin's arrival; he has played well both offensively and defensively, and he has gained the trust of the pitchers. On the May 7 game he hit his first major league home run against the Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Dave Bush. On June 6 2006, Martin and Gagné made baseball history by becoming the first French-Canadian battery in the majors. On June 26 2006, Navarro was traded to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, a move which was likely made to give Navarro some playing time somewhere else. On August 13 2006, Martin hit his first career walk-off home run in a victory that completed a sweep of the rival San Francisco Giants. On September 18 2006, Martin hit a solo home run off of Trevor Hoffman, the third of four consecutive home runs in the bottom of the 9th inning to tie the San Diego Padres, it was the first time four home runs have been hit in a row since the 1964 Minnesota Twins.
Martin has excelled since taking over the starting catcher's job. He has an above average batting average, but is fast enough to steal bases, a rarity for a catcher. On April 21 2007, Martin hit a walk-off grand slam against Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Shawn Chacon in the bottom of the 10th inning. This was the first grand slam of his career.
In May 2007, Martin made his debut on the National League All-Star Game ballot at fourth place, despite leading National League catchers in most offensive categories and matching or exceeding ballot rivals in defense. By June 26, he had made up a 140,100 vote deficit from ballot-leading Paul Lo Duca, the Dodgers' former catcher now playing for the Mets, and was 214,114 votes ahead of him. That same month he broke the Dodgers' franchise record for single-season steals by a catcher (12) set by John Roseboro in 1962. On July 1 it was announced that Martin finished in first place in All-Star Game voting, leading Lo Duca by 296,948 votes. He became the first ever Canadian born catcher to start the All-Star Game.
Russell Martin made his second all-star game during the 2008 season. He caught 10 innings of a 15 inning game in which the American League won 4 to 3. Martin's 10 innings caught are tied for 4th place all time among all star catchers in a single game.
Martin's full name is Russell Nathan Jeanson Coltrane Martin, Jr. Russell is from his father (Russell Martin Sr.), Nathan is from his great-grandfather, Jeanson is the maiden name of his mother (Suzanne), and Coltrane is also from his dad to pay homage to John Coltrane (jazz saxophonist extraordinaire) . Martin's father is a Black Canadian whose grandparents came to Montreal from the U.S.
- ↑ Russell Martin Statistics. Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved on 2007-09-15.
- ↑ ESPN - Russell Martin Stats, News, Photos - Los Angeles Dodgers - MLB Basbeball. ESPN.com. Retrieved on 2007-09-15.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 The Official Site of The Los Angeles Dodgers: Team: Player Information. MLB.com. Retrieved on 2007-09-15.
- ↑ Russell Martin MLB Baseball profile. Sportsline. Retrieved on 2008-04-16.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Kelly, Cathal (2007-06-09). Catching the fast train to L.A. - Montreal resident Martin solid behind plate for Dodgers. The Star. Retrieved on 2008-04-16.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Russell Martin achieves stardom in second big-league season. Sporting News (2007-06-14). Retrieved on 2008-04-18.
- ↑ Mets vs. Dodgers - Box Score - June 6, 2006. ESPN (2006-06-06). Retrieved on 2008-04-18.
- ↑ ESPN - Dioner Navarro Stats, News, Photos, - Tampa Bay Rays. ESPN. Retrieved on 2008-04-18.
- ↑ Giants vs. Dodgers - Box Score - August 13, 2006. ESPN (2006-08-13). Retrieved on 2008-04-18.
- ↑ Padres vs. Dodgers - Recap - September 18, 2006. ESPN (2006-09-18). Retrieved on 2008-04-16.
- ↑ Gammons, Peter (April 16, 2007). Martin's energy drives Dodgers. ESPN. Retrieved on 2007-08-20.
- ↑ Pirates vs. Dodgers - Recap - April 21, 2007. ESPN (2007-04-21). Retrieved on 2008-04-16. “Martin's walk-off grand slam sends Dodgers past Pirates”
- ↑ Thrasher, Kelly (2007-05-21). Votebook: All-Star talents behind plate. MLB.com. Retrieved on 2008-04-18.
- ↑ Gurnick, Ken (2007-06-04). Dodgers make dent in All-Star voting. MLB.com. Retrieved on 2008-04-18.
- ↑ GoBlue1324 (2007-12-27). 2008 Fantasy Baseball: Catchers. Sporting News. Retrieved on 2008-04-18.
- ↑ Spencer, Lyle (2007-07-11). Dodgers take All-Star Game by storm. MLB.com. Retrieved on 2008-04-18.
- ↑ The Official Site of Major League Baseball: History: MLB Awards. MLB.com. Retrieved on 2008-04-18.
- ↑ Maddux wins record 17th Gold Glove. Sporting News (2007-11-06). Retrieved on 2008-04-18.
- ↑ The Official Site of The Los Angeles Dodgers: News: Martin starts at hot corner
- ↑ Los Angeles Times 15 April 2007
- ↑ The Official Site of The Los Angeles Dodgers: Fan Forum: Player Songs. Retrieved on 2007-08-20.
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