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Russell Martin
Catcher learned baseball, music from father

By Doug Miller /

Montreal is one of the most beloved cities in North America, a Canadian hub of culture, fashion, sports and scintillating street life.

Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Russell Martin is certainly familiar with the territory, as both he and his father have spent plenty of time within the city limits.

Martin showed his considerable talents in front of a worldwide audience as his team reached its first National League Championship Series in 20 years.

But while growing up in Montreal, Martin spent his important high school years living with his father, Russell Martin Sr., who played saxophone and flute in the subways of the city to provide for his multi-talented son.

During that time, his father, who didn't own a car, would sometimes get to Junior's games via roller skates. Meanwhile, Junior was starring at Polyvalente Edouard-Montpetit High, a local baseball powerhouse that produced former Dodgers reliever Eric Gagne.

"He didn't just teach me about being a baseball player," Russell Jr. told Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times in 2006. "He taught me about being a man."

He also taught his son about music.

The father named his son Russell Nathan Coltrane Jeanson Martin, with Coltrane being a nod to the late legend of jazz, John Coltrane. And along with the name, a love for music has been passed on.

Age: 25

Hometown: Montreal, Canada

School: Chipola Junior College

MLB Teams:

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Martin has an eclectic taste in music that includes current hip-hop hits from DJ Khaled, Kanye West and Lil Wayne, but he also enjoys 1980s radio staples and a little bit of his father's stuff, too.

"I don't listen to a whole lot of jazz, but growing up, that's all my dad listened to," Martin said in a recent live chat. "My favorite artist is probably Miles Davis or Thelonious Monk. There's more. And Coltrane, obviously. He's awesome. Duke Ellington is good stuff, too."

Martin likely would have enjoyed the recent Jazz on the Grass concert that benefits the Jackie Robinson Foundation. In fact, Martin is a huge admirer of Robinson, who started the benefit concerts while playing for the Dodgers.

When asked why Robinson is his all-time favorite Dodger in a recent chat, Martin had a ready response.

"The way he played the game," wrote Martin. "He was all-out every time he played. That's the way you're supposed to play the game of baseball and he took a lot of pride in that. That's just on the field. What he did for all of humanity speaks for itself."

Nowadays, Martin's meteoric rise from the sweet-sounding, saxophone-filled subways of Montreal into the realm of baseball's elite, along with the respect he garners from teammates, opponents, fans and media, has to have his father smiling.

Chances are, he's composing a celebratory song, too.

Doug Miller is a senior writer for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.