Russell Nathan Jeanson Coltrane Martin Jr. (born February 15, 1983 in East York, Ontario, Canada) is a professional baseball player for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Martin has broken the record for stolen bases by a catcher with the Dodgers.
Martin's career as a Major League Baseball player began in 2006. During that year, he hit .282. Convinced they had a find, the Dodgers stationed him in 2007 as their starting catcher, where he has been the past two seasons. During Martin's three years in the Majors, the Dodgers have made two postseason berths.
Martin was born in East York, Ontario
. He grew up in Chelsea, Quebec
, Canada and lived in Paris, France
from the age of 8-10. Martin has an African-Canadian father, Russell Martin Sr., and a white, French-Canadian mother, singer and actress, Suzanne Jeanson. His parents separated when he was only two years old. "I don't really remember when my parents separated, and it's probably better that way because I know kids these days go through some tough times," says Martin. His father used to play saxophone in Montreal subway stations to help pay for his baseball training. Along with playing baseball in the Montreal neighborhood of Notre-Dame-De-Grâce
, Martin played hockey for N.D.G Minor Hockey, where glimpses of his future all-star athleticism could be seen. He graduated from Polyvalente Edouard-Montpetit, which was the same high school attended by former teammate Eric Gagné
. After graduating from high school, Martin took a junior college scholarship at Chipola College
in Marianna, Florida
In 2002, Martin was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 17th round. Martin was originally a third baseman before switching to catcher after a scout saw him playing for the Gulf Coast Dodgers in Rookie Ball and thought he showed more promise in that position. Martin was a Florida State League All-Star catcher while with the Vero Beach Dodgers in 2004 and Baseball America 2nd Team Minor League All-Star and Southern League All-Star while with the Jacksonville Suns in 2005.
On May 5, 2006, Martin was called up to the Dodgers after a wrist injury landed Navarro on the disabled list
. He got two hits (including a double) in the game. His first hit was against Chris Capuano
. The team has performed well since Martin's arrival; he has played well both offensively and defensively, and he has gained the trust of the pitchers. On the May 7 game he hit his first major league home run against the Milwaukee Brewers
pitcher Dave Bush
. On June 6, 2006, Martin and Gagné made baseball
history by becoming the first French-Canadian battery in the majors. On June 26, 2006, Navarro was traded to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays
, a move which was likely made to give Navarro some playing time somewhere else. On August 13, 2006, Martin hit his first career walk-off home run in a victory that completed a sweep of the rival San Francisco Giants
. On September 18, 2006, Martin hit a solo home run off of Trevor Hoffman
, the third of four consecutive home runs in the bottom of the 9th inning to tie the San Diego Padres
, it was the first time four home runs have been hit in a row since the 1964 Minnesota Twins
Martin has excelled since taking over the starting catcher's job. He has an above average batting average
, but is fast enough to steal bases
, a rarity for a catcher. On April 21, 2007, Martin hit a walk-off grand slam
against Pittsburgh Pirates
pitcher Shawn Chacon
in the bottom of the 10th inning. This was the first grand slam of his career.
In May 2007, Martin made his debut on the National League All-Star Game
ballot at fourth place, despite leading National League catchers in most offensive categories and matching or exceeding ballot rivals in defense. By June 26, he had made up a 140,100 vote deficit from ballot-leading Paul Lo Duca
, the Dodgers' former catcher now playing for the Mets
, and was 214,114 votes ahead of him. That same month he broke the Dodgers' franchise record for single-season steals by a catcher (12) set by John Roseboro
in 1962. On July 1 it was announced that Martin finished in first place in All-Star Game voting, leading Lo Duca by 296,948 votes. He became the first ever Canadian born catcher to start the All-Star Game.
At the end of the 2007 season, he was awarded with the National League Gold Glove Award
and the Silver Slugger
On May 2, 2008, Martin started his first game at third base since reaching the Majors, allowing veteran backup Danny Ardoin
to spell Martin behind the plate
. Martin made his second all-star game during the 2008 season. He caught 10 innings of a 15 inning game in which the American League
won 4 to 3. Martin's 10 innings caught are tied for fourth place all time among all star catchers in a single game.
Martin's full name is Russell Nathan Jeanson Coltrane Martin, Jr. Russell is from his father (Russell Martin Sr.), Nathan is from his great-grandfather, Jeanson is the maiden name of his mother (Suzanne), and Coltrane is also from his dad to pay homage to John Coltrane
Martin's entrance theme is "Play That Funky Music
" by Wild Cherry
although lately he has been coming out to "Nas Is Like
" by Nas