By Dennis O'Donnell

Joe Wright was in the right place, alright. Sitting amid a tribe of Indians fans, Wright watched the ball leave the Addison Russell’s bat and sail into the right field stands at Progressive Field.

An Indians fan snagged the historic home run ball which marked the first time in ten years that a player hit a grand slam in a World Series game. But in the emotional moment of game six of the World Series, history be damned. The fan threw the ball back onto the field.

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Eventually, a ball boy retrieved the baseball and gave it to Joe Wright, who was sitting in the front row down the right field line.

At 22, Addison Russell became the youngest player since Mickey Mantle to hit a grand slam in the World Series, and that was back in 1953. Russell finished the game with six RBI, forcing a decisive and historic game seven.

Russell was property of the Oakland Athletics, which persuaded him to play professional baseball instead of going to the Auburn University. A $2.625 million bonus has that effect on young ballplayers.

It wasn’t long before Russell was named the A’s top prospect and the future face of the franchise. Like so many before him — McGwire, Canseco, Weiss, Tejada, Cespedes, Parker and countless others, Russell would be next.

On July 4, 2014, it was Independence Day for Addison Russell. He was traded to the Cubs along with Dan Straily and Bill McKinney for Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija.

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Along with trading their future, the A’s unloaded the present, sending Yoenis Cespedes to Boston in exchange for Jon Lester. Athletics general manager Billy Beane went all in. The future be damned.

The A’s made the playoffs for the third straight year. But a wild card loss to Kansas City fell far short of expectations. Beane had gone all in and the river card was the three of clubs. The A’s and their fans were screwed-again Theo Epstein is no Brad Pitt, but he’s damn good general manager, and he got the better of Beane.

Had the A’s won the World Series in 2014 or at least made it to the Fall Classic, history might have recorded this trade on a fairly even keel. But they didn’t.

And as the classic Game Seven came to an end, the camera showed a beaming Epstein in the stands, tears in his eyes. Addison Russell is a world champion at 22 with an incredibly bright future ahead.

Somewhere in thick of the celebration is Joe Wright. His grandfather and father, both lifelong Cubs fans, didn’t live long enough to see this World Series. Now, Joe is going back to Chicago with the memory, and a very special baseball to place on his mantel.

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Dennis O'Donnell