Frank Russo is a baseball collector who doesn’t collect bats, balls, uniforms or autographs.
A 53-year-old resident of East Brunswick, N.J., Russo collects obituaries and death certificates of major league baseball players. He keeps track of their causes of death, and when he can find them, he takes pictures of their gravesites.
And if all of that is not unusual enough, he is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR for short) who does not consider himself a sabermetrician and has no use for sabermetrics or whatever the new-age metrics are called, you know, the ones I have no use for (the SABR guys despise me, Russo said, which is ok with me).
Russo has written a book, “Bury My Heart at Cooperstown,” subtitled “Salacious, Sad and Surreal Deaths in the History of Baseball,” and he maintains a Web site, TheDeadBallEra.com, “where every player is safe at home” and which he dedicates to “deceased major league ball players.”
The site has fascinating stuff, which you can’t get anywhere else.It has sections on murders, suicides, beer drinkers and hell raisers, accidents, obituary listings, necrology by location, grave site listings, grave photo archives and death certificates. Those headings make their sections obvious. But how about “bad to the bone?” What might be found there?
Four lists of owners, managers and players:
Headhunters: Don Drysdale, Burleigh Grimes, Sal Maglie, Carl Mays, Van Lingle Mungo, Whit Wyatt, Early Wynn
Hotheads and Bad Asses: Johnny Allen, The Cleveland Spiders, Ty Cobb, Lefty Grove, Joe Medwick, John McGraw, The Old Orioles
Cheapskates: Ed Barrow, Charles Comiskey, Charlie Ebbets, Chrlie Finley, Clark Griffith,Connie Mack, Frank Navin, Branch Rickey, George Weiss
Notorious: Cap Anson, The Black Sox, Hal Chase, Jim Devlin, Andrew Freedman, Chick Gandil, Chris Von Der Ahe