Did you know that actor Kurt Russell was a great minor league player?

Every day you learn something new, and if you like Kurt Russell movies, you will love this story. On many occasions, cinema and baseball have gone hand in hand with numerous cinematographic films focused on the sport of diamond. However, despite this we have never witnessed a baseball movie in which Russell is the main protagonist, which is unfortunate, considering that he was a professional of the discipline.

That’s right, Kurt Russell, who is turning 70 today, played in the minor leagues for several seasons and may have been close to becoming a major league. While it is true, he has been in acting since he was a child, he also played baseball from a young age and was able, for a time, to do both activities equally.

His father, Bing Russell, who was also a minor league player and a well-known actor in Hollywood, also owned some MiLB teams, such as the Portland Mavericks. However, Kurt had a greater passion for the ball than for acting and he let it be known once in an interview. “He wasn’t really serious about acting, he was playing baseball,” he said. According to Russell himself, he had been preparing to be a professional player from the age of 13 or 14. However, “acting was something he came up with,” but he made a lot of money acting, so it wasn’t something he was just going to put aside and pretend didn’t exist.

Kurt Russell playing for the Portland Mavericks. Credits: FanGraphs

His short life as a player

Kurt Russell could only play four seasons in the minor leagues. From 1971 to 1973, pausing and returning for one last appearance in 1977. Actually, it was clear that the performance was consuming him almost entirely, but it should also be noted that had it not been for a severe injury, his playing career it would have been more promising. According to Baseball Reference, Russell first played for the Bend Rainbows of the NorthWest League (Class A). Later, in 1972 he played for the Walla Walla Islanders and in 1973 for the Sun Kings of El Paso and for his father’s team, the Portland Mavericks.

During that decade, Russell was watched by organizations like the Dodgers, Twins, Giants, and Cardinals. However, everyone was reluctant to offer him a super contract for a factor that, in the end, would be consequential. By the age of 20, Russell had already participated in more than 10 movies and various television shows. Follow Me, Boys, The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, The Barefoot Executive, and The Fox and the Hound were some of those movies.He also shot several episodes of The wonderful world of Disney, like television series like Deadly Tower O Amber Waves and The Virginian. Therefore, indeed, the scouts knew that his time as a player would be partial.

In an interview while playing Double A, Russell stated, “Movies have a precedent in the winter and baseball in the summer. If I get hit by a truck and my face is ruined, I’ll play baseball. If I find that I can’t hit the ball enough, I’ll make movies. Baseball is much more difficult than acting, a much greater challenge. Acting is really very simple. They give you the lines and you go out and deliver them. Baseball is different.

Kurt Russell en The Computer wore tennis shoes. Créditos: Pinterest

Game abandonment

When he played for El Paso in the Texas League, Kurt Russell hit more than .550 average in his first six games, there it seemed that baseball was crying out for it. Anyway, fate knew that his future was not on a pitch, when he was hit hard while playing the second pad. As Russell recounted, “I used to go to batting practice a lot, and with some injuries on the team, I played all the time that I hadn’t been there before. At that moment, I think my arm was a bit tired.

Finally, on any given game day, the waiter was about to perform a double play when, just before throwing to first, he was hit by the runner. Although it did not hurt so much, Russell assured that “he did not know the seriousness of the matter” because that same day he went to have fun playing air hockey and there his arm began to bother. Therefore, he went to a doctor and he said the following:

“Aren’t you an actor too?” He asked. Russell said “yes” for the doctor to answer, “Well, now you’re an actor all the time.”

Kurt Russell had torn his rotator cuff that year, ending his sports career. He was released by the Sun Kings and later, in a last attempt, reached the Portland Mavericks. There he would play 29 games, while at the same time, he also served as vice president of the team.

Kurt Russell playing for the El Paso Sun Kings. Credits: Lyndon Baseball Johnson

Also read: Selection of the best baseball movies (+ Video)

Written by: Andrés Finol
Twitter e Instagram: @finolandres / @analejandrof

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Did you know that actor Kurt Russell was a great minor league player?