Russell Lee Bauers (May 10, 1914 – January 21, 1995) was a right-handed pitcher/left-handed batter in Major League Baseball for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, and St. Louis Browns during eight different seasons between 1936 and 1950. Signed as an undrafted free agent by the Philadelphia Phillies in early 1935, Bauers was released after one year and then signed with the Pirates, the organization for whom he'd make his major-league debut.
Bauers was called up from the minors to be the Pirates' starting pitcher on August 20, 1936, but couldn't make it out of the second inning. In 11⁄3 innings of work, he allowed 5 earned runs on 2 hits and 4 walks for an unflattering ERA of 33.75. He wouldn't return to Pittsburgh until the next season, when he became a regular contributor. Bauers pitched in 35 games, including 19 starts, and posted a 13-6 record. He was able to complete 11 of his starts and even threw 2 shutouts, posting a stellar ERA of 2.88, good enough for fourth-best in the league. Bauers also placed in the league's top ten in strikeouts, winning percentage, and fewest hits allowed per nine innings. His season was good enough to earn him a solid spot in Pittsburgh's starting rotation.
Bauers enjoyed another solid season in 1938, though his won-lost record was only 13-14 at year's end. His ERA of 3.07 was still good for seventh-best in the league, and he was in the top ten in innings pitched, strikeouts, games started, and fewest hits allowed per nine innings (where he was second behind only Johnny "Double No-Hit" Vander Meer). After the '38 season, however, Bauers would become only a part-time major leaguer with oddly lengthy gaps in his career. Over the 1939–1941 seasons combines, he appeared in a total of 38 games, starting only 15, with a won-lost record of 3-9.
Bauers vanished from the major leagues for four full seasons before being released by the Pirates before the 1946 season. He was able to sign a contract with the Chicago Cubs in mid-season and made a comeback of sorts, going 2-1 with a save and a nifty 3.53 ERA, but he again vanished from the majors after the season was up. The Cubs released him after the 1948 season, and Bauers was unable to find another suitor until late in the 1949 campaign, when he signed with the St. Louis Browns. In May 1950, the Browns called him up to the major league club at the age of 36. On May 6 he pitched the final two innings of a game against the Philadelphia Athletics. It was his last appearance in the major leagues.
Bauers died on January 21, 1995 in Hines, Illinois.
By Dean Hanley
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