Randall graduate and Philadelphia Phillies farmhand Addison Russ is currently training in Canadian. [Alan Hale/ For Press Pass Sports]The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has taken an unimaginable global toll— in the way of life it have been disrupted and the economic impact it has had.
Among the collateral damage: The entire sports world has been put on hold, leaving many athletes in limbo as each respective sport waits for the next play to be called. Randall graduate and Philadelphia Phillies farmhand Addison Russ is one of hundreds of professional baseball players left stranded in these uncharted waters.
Russ, a 19th-round pick of the Phillies in the 2017 Major League Baseball draft, had drawn an invite to Philadelphia’s big league spring-training camp in February, and was still there in March when the MLB season was put on hold.
“It’s frustrating for everyone,” Russ said, “but I’ve been good. I’m keeping my spirits up. You have to have high spirits during times like this. The biggest thing I’m taking away right now is I’m enjoying being with family. I’ve never been home for an Easter with my wife before; I enjoyed that. But it’s different, and it’s something we’ll have to get through eventually.”
Russ has been making his way up the Phillies ladder over the past three years, especially last season.
Pitching in 55 games last summer for the Double A Reading Fightin’ Phils, the hard-throwing right-hander established himself as one of the top closers in the Eastern League, earning an All-Star nod with 22 saves, striking out 81 hitters in 56.2 innings, and carrying a 2.54 ERA.
“I feel like I’ve progressed well during my time with the Phillies,” Russ said. “I’ve moved up the ranks, and I’ve been blessed to do it at a good pace. I’m always learning and trying to perfect my craft, so the progression is always a good sign.”
With his career now at a standstill, Russ is back in the Texas Panhandle. But what many don’t know is the Amarillo native is now living and working out in Canadian while waiting out COVID-19. Russ’s wife, Kaitlyn, moved to Canadian to be near her parents, CISD administrators Drew and Krista Daniel, while her husband was in training, and works at The Citadelle Art Foundation.
“I know it’s been hard for him” said Canadian Middle School Principal Drew Daniel. “I know it’s hard for my daughter (Kaitlyn). He expected to be one phone call away from where he needed to be. He was still with the big league club during spring training. So, to be that close to his dream and now it could be delayed, maybe a year, it’s tough.”
Russ made the cover story of Thursday‘s Canadian Record newspaper. [Alan Hale/ For Press Pass Sports]
Though Daniel would rather see his son-in-law pitching in the Phillies organization right now, he doesn’t deny it’s been enjoyable having a big league prospect living nearby.
“I introduce him to people, and first thing I say is he plays for the Phillies, and people are baffled,” Daniel said. “People dream their entire life to play professional baseball, and I have a pro player…that I get to play catch with every day. I’m living the greatest father-in-law’s dream, living vicariously through him.”
“I played in high school and college,” Daniel added, “but that’s been a while. My arm hurt after the first few days.”
As for Russ, he says living in a small town like Canadian has been a positive change.
“I really enjoy the slow pace,” Russ said. “Plus, it’s a really gorgeous town. I love the Fall Foliage they do every year. But there’s just no hurry here, and I can so some things I can’t do in Amarillo.”
Russ has even picked up a lot of duties around the in-laws’ house to earn his keep so to speak.
“I do some homeschooling with my wife’s little brother and sister,” Russ said. “I cook and clean, and it’s a good time. Usually in the afternoon, I work out with my father-in-law, and I do my workouts. I’ll throw, and then I’ll do a lift to stay in shape.”
As for Russ’ favorite places to eat in Canadian: “We go to The Bucket for breakfast. The Goat is a great place for lunch. The local Mexican places are really good. We kinda hit everything.”