Martin's mom never far from his thoughts

Martin's mom never far from his thoughts

Martin's mom never far from his thoughts
NEW YORK -- The Yankees do not wear names embroidered on their jerseys, never have. But if they did, Russell Martin's would probably still have a "J" on the back above his No. 55.

Before the 2009 season when he was with the Dodgers, Martin asked the club to add the extra letter to his home and road attire as a sign of respect for his mother, Susanne, whose last name is Jeanson.

"It was just for my mom's side of the family," Martin said. "I wanted for them to get a little bit of recognition, out of respect. It was kind of a tribute to my mom. I'm a product of both my mom and my dad, so I thought it'd be cool for my mom to know that she's with me at all times."

Martin's mother and his father, Russell Sr., divorced when the future Yankees catcher was 2 years old, and much of his childhood was spent with living with his mother -- most of it in Ottawa, but also for two years in Paris.

He said that his mother thought the tribute was "pretty cool" at first sight. It might have confused Dodgers fans, who wondered if the equipment team had made a mistake at the sewing machine. But Martin was pleased with the gesture.

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"She's just an extremely generous and kind woman; not selfish," Martin said. "It always seemed like I came before everything. She was always there for her kids. I'm just forever grateful for all the love that she gave me when I was younger, and still to this day."

Years later, Martin can fully appreciate the important tasks that his mother encountered raising him and his sister, Vivianne, all the while holding down a regular job as a director in the Ottawa suburb of Hall.

"Whether it would be coming home from work, making dinner, cleaning, taking care of me, helping me with my homework -- you name it, she was there," Martin said. "She'd get back home about 5 o'clock and she'd do it all. It was pretty impressive. You kind of take it for granted. You expect moms to do that kind of stuff, but it was very special."

Martin said with a laugh that he probably wasn't the easiest child for his mom to handle, given the seemingly boundless energy that he had back then.

"I was running around everywhere," Martin said. "She'd even go out and play catch with me and stuff. I remember at one point I broke a vein in her hand and she said, 'I'm done playing catch with you.' She's the best."

Martin recently asked his mother -- a former singer who once made appearances on television and radio in Canada -- to retire and fulfill some of her more artistic pursuits, which she has done. If Martin closes his eyes, he can still hear his mom singing him lullabies in his childhood bedroom.

"Now, she goes into old folks' homes and she sings," Martin said. "I take care of her financially now, and I kind of forced her to do that. She writes a little bit, she's writing a play right now, so she's doing what she loves to do. It's kind of a way for me to give back all the love she had for me."

And on Sunday, as Martin celebrates Mother's Day with the rest of his Yankees teammates, swinging a pink bat might just help some good things come around. It was that way in 2010, when Martin said that he'd forgotten to pick up a gift and instead slugged a home run off the Rockies' Matt Daley in Los Angeles.

Coincidentally, his mom was in the stands for Martin's first home run as a Yankee last April, and he joked at the time that he should make sure she comes out to Yankee Stadium more. But in a way, Martin said that his mother's voice is always with him, no matter where his baseball career takes him.

"She was always calm and collected. She never really got angry at anything," Martin said. "She was always able to communicate with me, no matter if she was mad at me or frustrated with me. She always took the time to talk to me and explain to me how things were supposed to be.

"I think that's what I take from her the most. I still have that fuse, but when I do get frustrated, I think of my mom and remember how she used to handle situations. It's something to fall back on; little things like that I remember from being a kid. That's what makes my mom special."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.