John Russell, who two years ago was let go as a coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates, will be named tomorrow as the team's new manager, a source confirmed for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last night.
Mr. Russell, 46, who managed the Philadelphia Phillies' Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre club last season, will be introduced as the successor of fired manager Jim Tracy at a news conference tomorrow. His hiring is the first major decision made by new Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington.
The new Pirate skipper faces the task of righting a team that has suffered through 15 consecutive losing seasons, just one short of the major league record. Other managers during that span included Jim Leyland, Gene Lamont, Lloyd McClendon and Mr. Tracy, who was fired Oct. 5 with a year left on his contract.
Mr. Russell was one of five finalists for the manager's job. Others were Class AAA Indianapolis manager Trent Jewett, Cleveland Indians third-base coach Joel Skinner, Los Angeles Dodgers bench coach Dave Jauss and Chicago White Sox bench coach Joey Cora.
Mr. Russell served as the Pirates' third-base coach and catching instructor under Mr. McClendon from 2003 to 2005.
Soon after, he was named manager of the Phillies' Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre club, which played this year in Ottawa and will play in Allentown beginning next season. Last season, Mr. Russell managed his club to a 55-88 record.
Touted in the past as one of baseball's best managerial prospects, Mr. Russell earned Minor League Manager of the Year honors in 2002 after guiding the Triple-A Edmonton Trappers to a Pacific Coast League championship that season.
Primarily a catcher, Mr. Russell played for the Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves and Texas Rangers from 1984-1993, a 10-year major league career in which he played a backup role, with 93 games being the most games in which he appeared in a season. Over his career he hit .225 with 34 homers and 129 RBIs in 448 games.
Born Jan 5, 1961, in Oklahoma City, John William Russell attended the University of Oklahoma and was selected by the Montreal Expos in the fourth round of the 1979 free agent draft but did not sign with them.
Three years later, in 1982, he was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the first round, the 13th pick overall, in the free agent draft. He was 23 years old when he broke into the big leagues on June 22, 1984.