On June 25, 1984, Bill Russell broke a Los Angeles Dodgers franchise record by playing in his 1,953rd career game. He started in center field, hit second in the lineup and went 0-for-3 in a 9-4 loss to the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium.
Russell to that point had appeared in each of the Dodgers’ 42 games that season, making 36 starts. Back spasms forced him to the then-disabled list for nearly all of August, and Russell wound up playing in 89 games (73 starts) that season.
While sidelined, the Dodgers held a pregame ceremony to recognize Russell breaking the L.A. franchise record for games played. He was joined on the field by his wife, two daughters and mothers.
The Dodgers presented the 35-year-old with a rocking chair that had ‘The Dean’ inscribed on it. Although Russell was near the end of his career, he was adamant the 1984 season — and the ceremony — were not a sign of retirement.
That came in October 1986, after Russell completed an 18th season with the Dodgers. He played a total of 2,181 games and still holds the L.A. franchise record. Willie Davis is second in L.A. history with 1,952 games played.
Russell trails only Zack Wheat (2,322 games) for most in Dodgers history. Wheat played 18 seasons for Brooklyn. Russell led the Majors with 162 games played in 1973, which was the only year he received votes for National League MVP.
Russell was a three-time All-Star and won a World Series when the Dodgers defeated the New York Yankees in 1981. He famously played over eight seasons alongside Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes and Ron Cey, with the quartet setting the MLB record for longest running infield.
Their streak began June 23, 1973 and concluded after the Dodgers’ win in the 1981 World Series. Of the four infielders, Russell was first to join the Dodgers organization, as he was selected in the ninth round of the 1966 Draft.
Russell began his career before converting to shortstop; he resumed playing the outfield on occasion during the 1984 season.