By Ed Diokno
Addison Russell has emerged as one of the best shortstops in baseball, making the National League All-Star team this year. He did all this and he is just 22, when most ball players are just getting used to major league play.
This year he hit 21 home runs and knocked in 95 RBIs in just his second season in the Major Leagues.
Last night, he didn’t have a great night at the plate, but neither did any of his teammates mustering only 3 hits against the Giants’ pitcher Johnny Cueto. But one of those hits was a home run, enough to beat San Francisco, 1-0 in the first game of the National League Divisional playoffs.
Russell, who is half Filipino and half black, grew up in Pensacola, Fla. As the oldest of four siblings, he spent a lot of time helping raise his younger siblings, and admitted in 2014 in a Tribune interview that he didn’t even watch much Major League Baseball.
“I was just busy trying to be a kid,” said Russell, whose mother is Filipina. “I played a lot of baseball and football, and babysat my (siblings) when I wasn’t playing sports. That’s where the time went.”
He was good enough to be drafted out of high school by the Oakland A’s in 2012 . Right away, he showed his potential. Nevertheless, he was traded to the Cubs for a couple of pitchers because the A’s needed to strengthen their pitching staff in their run towards the playoffs.
“With my mom and dad being so young, and having to go through a lot of struggles and overcoming a lot of struggles together, I think that’s what has driven me to this point,” he said. “They were just trying to live their lives, and not for themselves but for their kids. They were a loving family.”
It looks like his parents are his role models the way he dotes on Melisa, his wife, and children. His wife is also a Filipina American and they’re proud of their heritage.
He and Melisa have two young children at home, so Russell has his hands full on and off the field. But it has helped him become a better man and a better player, and he knows he has more to learn.
“Just coming into the league, making a splash last year, becoming a father of two and handling all this stuff has been a whirlwind,” he said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. “But I knew it was going to happen someday.
“I’m enjoying the process now, and I’m young and I’m still learning. Just can’t wait to see where I’m going to be at in five years.”