Russ Springer

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Russell Paul Springer


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Biographical Information[edit]

Right-handed pitcher Russ Springer played 18 years in the majors with 10 different teams.

After growing up in rural Louisiana, Springer went on to play at Louisiana State University, where his teammates included future big leaguers Ben McDonald, Mark Guthrie, and Barry Manuel. While at LSU, he played in the College World Series in 1987 and 1989, and posted a 19-10 career record with a 3.39 ERA and 313 career strikeouts in three seasons He was then selected by the New York Yankees in the seventh round of the 1989 amateur draft.

Springer reached the AA level in 1991 and then joined the AAA Columbus Clippers to start 1992. After just one start for Columbus, he was called up to the majors and made his big league debut with the Yankees on April 17th, giving up 3 earned runs in 4 innings of relief work against the Cleveland Indians. He spent most of the summer back with the Clippers but posted a 6.19 ERA in 14 appearances out of the New York bullpen. Following that season, he was traded to the California Angels as part of the deal that brought Jim Abbott to the Yankees.

Springer remained with the Angels until 1995, splitting time between the majors and minors and the rotation and the bullpen, before being sent to the Philadelphia Phillies late in the 1995 campaign. Following the 1996 season, he signed with the Houston Astros. Now exclusively a reliever, he went 3-3 with a 4.23 ERA in 54 appearances. Following the season, he was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 1997 expansion draft.

Midway through the 1998 season, Springer was traded to the Atlanta Braves for Alan Embree. He earned the win for Atlanta in Game Six of the 1999 NLCS to clinch the National League pennant, and made two appearance in that year's World Series, as the Braves were swept by the Yankees. He returned to the Diamondbacks in 2000 but missed the entire 2002 season following surgery. After coming back to the majors with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2003, he returned to the Astros in 2004. He made two appearances in the 2005 World Series for the club as they fell to the Chicago White Sox.

Springer's most infamous moment occurred as a member of the Astros on May 16, 2006 while facing Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants. Springer threw five straight inside pitches at Bonds, then in pursuit of Babe Ruth on the career home run list. On the fifth pitch, Bonds was hit, prompting umpire Joe West to eject Springer along with Astros manager Phil Garner. Springer was later given a four-game suspension for his actions; Garner for his part received a one-game suspension. After his retirement, in 2013, he confessed that he was in fact throwing at Bonds that day because he was upset with allegations of PED use by the slugger, but that he now regretted his gesture: "I wasn't proud of it then, and I'm not proud of it now. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't do it. I wouldn't hit him."

Springer returned to St. Louis in 2007 and had his finest big league season that summer, going 8-1 with a 2.18 ERA in a career-high 76 outings. He later had stints in the Oakland Athletics, Tampa Bay Rays, and Cincinnati Reds bullpens before retiring following the 2010 season.

Springer was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2018.

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