Over the next two weeks, Orioles reliever Adam Russell will get a visit from two of his biggest fans.
Fiona Galvin, 6, and her three-year-old brother Tommy will light up at the first sight of their "Uncle Bubba." In the offseason, he's the one who takes them to the park back home in Cleveland. He will take Tommy to baseball practice. He will dress up like Bigfoot to make them laugh. The kids will climb onto Russell and make him their personal 6-foot-7 jungle gym.
Russell, 29, is fighting for a job in the Orioles' spring training camp. His ability to throw a mid-90s fastball made him a professional baseball player, but the open-mindedness to tinker with throwing sidearm carried him to the majors. He's still looking for a place to stick. The Orioles are his sixth organization since the beginning of the 2009 season.
His baseball career has been about resilience, but he says the fight he's shown is nothing compared to that which his family has displayed.
Fiona and Tommy's parents — Russell's oldest sister, Tracy, and her husband, Marty — both have advanced cancer.
Over a traumatic 30-month span, Russell has received a firsthand lesson about life and how sometimes it can be cruel. He's learned that the future isn't guaranteed — whether it's your days in a major league uniform or the days you can embrace a family member.
"I think now that we keep getting bad news after bad news, we're just more numb to it right now," Russell said. "My family is fighters. We just want to get better. We don't want anyone to feel sorry for us. Whatever we need to do to move forward and keep their kids happy, that's really the main focus."
Adam Russell draws inspiration from his family's fight with cancer
Baltimore Sun | Feb 23