Fred Russell

Fred Russell (August 27, 1906 – January 26, 2003) was an American sports writer prominent in the Golden Era of Sports in the 20th century. He was a lifelong resident of Nashville, Tennessee and was sports editor and later Vice-President of the Nashville Banner daily newspaper. His career spanned 70 years. He published three books of sports humor in the 1940s. Russell was a protégé and friend of famed sportswriter Grantland Rice.

Russell is a member of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame and the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. One of his most enduring legacies was his influence on collegiate sports, specifically as Chairman of the Honors Court of the College Football Hall of Fame for 29 years. The Honors Court determines the inductees to the Hall of Fame.


Early life

Born in Wartrace, Tennessee, Russell attended Vanderbilt University Class of 1927 in Nashville. At Vanderbilt, Russell was a good student, a member of the Kappa Chapter of Kappa Sigma Fraternity, and a varsity baseball player.[1] He played second base and pitched.[2] He later attended Vanderbilt Law School.

In 1929, Russell was hired for the police beat by the Nashville Banner. The following year, Russell became the Sports Editor of the Banner, replacing Ralph McGill. Russell would be a member of the Banner staff until the paper closed in 1998. Over the next 68 years, Russell wrote over 12,000 columns, mostly in a column named Sidelines.

Golden Age of Sports

1930 9Sep 21--NashvBanner--FredRussell--p1
Nashville Banner announcement of Russell's promotion to sports editor, 21 September 1930.

Russell covered the major sports in America for over 65 years. His heyday was the Golden Age of sports—the 1930s to the 1950s—when newspapers were the principal form of media and news, before television and money became the central emphasis of modern sports. While Russell was always focused on covering Tennessee and southern athletics first, he nonetheless was well-known nationally and had a unique insight into the growth and expansion of athletics in the nation.

The sports and events he annually and regularly covered and contributed to were: college football; amateur and pro baseball; the Masters Golf Tournament; the Kentucky Derby; championship boxing; college football bowl games, including The Sugar Bowl and The Rose Bowl; and The Olympic Games (1960–1976).

Russell gained national notoriety in the 1940s and 1950s for writing one of the most popular annual college football previews, the Pigskin Preview, for The Saturday Evening Post, one of the most popular magazines of that day. He covered the major Bowl Games throughout the decades. Russell was one of the principle journalists involved in the growth and popularity of college football, the Southeastern Conference, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

Among Russell's trademarks was his emphasis on the lighter, humorous side of sports as well as his penchant for playing practical jokes. His three sports humor books, I'll Go Quietly (1944), I'll Try Anything Twice (1945) and Funny Thing About Sports (1948) were collections of humorous quotes, jokes, anecdotes and stories from the world of sports. The first two were published specifically for American troops in World War II, before television and radio were able to entertain troops abroad.

Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame

Russell was instrumental in the formation and history of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, honoring those who have excelled in contribution to sports in Tennessee. In 2003, the Hall began the Fred Russell Distinguished American Award, given annually to a Tennessean who has exhibited excellence in their contribution to sports.

Russell's memorabilia, including his personal items, photographs, awards, honors, are in several locations in Nashville. These locations include The Nashville Downtown Public Library Nashville Banner History Room and Exhibit; the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame; and The Brentwood Academy exhibit room in Brentwood, Tennessee.

In 1998, the Banner folded and it was assumed that the 92-year-old Russell would retire. Instead he was hired to write a weekly column for The Tennessean. He completed his 70th year as a journalist in 1999, then retired. Russell penned his last sports column for the multi-author book Nashville: An American Self-Portrait in 2001. His byline thus appeared in nine different decades.

Influence and legacy

An influential figure in the Golden Age of sports, Russell was sports editor of the Nashville Banner for 68 years, from 1930–1998. In an era when newspapers were the primary form of information to the public, well before television was popular, Freddie Russell was a local legend in Middle Tennessee and was well known in the sports world throughout the nation.

Russell was widely regarded throughout the South as one of the foremost authorities on the world of sports. He was the primary Nashville and Middle Tennessee sports man for most of the 50-plus years he was the Sports Editor at the Banner, having close friendships with the notable Nashville sports leaders of the era, such as Ed Temple, Larry Schmittou, future SEC Commissioner Roy Kramer and many others. He has influenced many young people through the TRA Rice-Russell Scholarship. Many well-known writers today were Rice-Russell scholars, including Roy Blount, Skip Bayless and others. Many other sportswriters such as Doug Segrest (Birmingham News) and Lee Jenkins count Russell as a mentor and friend. Segrest began his career at the Banner. As the Chairman of the Honors Court of the College Football Hall of Fame for 29 years, Russell was the primary decision-maker regarding those who were inducted into the Hall of Fame. Many of those inducted credit Russell with their award and were grateful for his support and friendship.

Russell was a mentor of ESPN's Buster Olney, who attended Vanderbilt and began his career as a reporter for the Banner before his ascension to the top of the sports reporting world. He impacted countless Vanderbilt student-athletes through the years. Whether he was writing about them, promoting their careers and endeavors, befriending them as they entered the professional world, and/or welcoming them back to Vanderbilt through the years, Russell was the mainstay of the Vanderbilt community. One example is Art Demmas, legendary NFL umpire for 29 years. Demmas today is the Southern Region Chairman of the National Football Foundation. Demmas and Russell worked together for 42 years as the primary founders and leaders of the Middle Tennessee Chapter of the NFF, which today is one of the biggest Chapters of the NFF. Demmas was a star football player for Vanderbilt in the 1950s. Early in his career, Demmas was a high school referee and got to know Russell. Later, Russell helped Demmas get a position as a college football referee. After working for several years at the college level, Demmas was recruited into the NFL as an umpire and later became an official.

Another example is Nashville radio personality George Plaster. Plaster counts Russell a great influence and a major reason for his success. Russell helped Plaster get his initial broadcasting position at Vanderbilt. Plaster went on to be the Broadcaster for Vanderbilt athletics. He moved into the sports talk show industry in Nashville, and today he is host of the top-rated and most popular sports talk show in Tennessee, The Zone on 104.5 FM.

Russell was one of the primary journalists who covered the Tennessee State University Tigerbelles track team in their amazing success in the 1960 Olympics in Rome. Russell and TSU coach Ed Temple remained friends throughout their lives. Wilma Rudolph, who is originally from the town of Clarksville near Nashville, was one of the heroes of the 1960 Olympics.

Grantland Rice

Grantland Rice has long been considered the dean of American sportswriters. Rice and Russell were longtime colleagues and shared many similarities. They were both Tennesseans and graduates of Vanderbilt University, and the two had similar styles as writers and people. Rice was originally from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and he worked as a sportswriter in Nashville before joining the New York Herald (later Herald Tribune) from 1911–1930.

Other friends

In football, Russell was a contemporary and friend of Gen. Bob Neyland, Coach Paul 'Bear' Bryant, Red Sanders and many others. Russell actually helped Bryant get one of his first assistant coaching jobs at Vanderbilt. The two remained lifelong friends. Red Sanders was the Head Football Coach at Vanderbilt before going to UCLA, and both were also lifelong friends.

As a longtime baseball writer, especially in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, Russell often spent as long as a month covering spring training each year. He and fellow sportswriters such as Red Smith and Bill Corum would often travel together and stay with players in Florida (at hotels like the Soreno Hotel in St. Petersburg). Russell became a friend of many of the notable baseball stars of that era, as he covered legendary teams like the Yankees, the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers. Even into the later years of his career, he was highly regarded by the legends of baseball, from Tommy Lasorda to Bowie Kuhn to Joe DiMaggio.

Russel covered the inaugural and then over 40 Masters golf tournaments in Augusta, Georgia, all the while remaining a friend of Bobby Jones and the other golf pioneers of the day. He covered major championship boxing and was a friend and contemporary of Heavyweight Champion Jack Dempsey.

At the 25th Anniversary of Russell's career at the Nashville Banner, many paid tribute to Russell. The 1955 celebration included stars such as football greats Red Grange and Bear Bryant, Bobby Jones and Jack Dempsey, as well as writer Red Smith from New York, all attending to honor their friend Freddie Russell.

Major awards and honors

See also List of major awards and honors

In 1954, the Grantland Rice Scholarship at Vanderbilt was begun in honor of Rice. Endowed by the Thoroughbred Racing Association (TRA), the scholarship is awarded annually to an incoming first-year student with an interest in sportswriting. Russell was from the beginning involved in the administration and selection process of the scholarship. Later, in 1984, the TRA and its president, Charles J. Cella, endowed the scholarship in honor of Russell, making it the Fred Russell-Grantland Rice Sportswriting Scholarship. The scholarship is an annual award of $10,000 toward tuition at Vanderbilt.

Russell was elected to the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame in 1988[3] and into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 1974. At the time, he was only living sportswriter to receive the honor. He became a Charter Member of the Tennessee Sportswriters Hall of Fame in 2005.

Russell received the Distinguished American Award in 1980 given by the National Football Foundation (NFF).[4] The award is given for excellence in exhibiting superior qualities of scholarship, citizenship and leadership. Two of the previous winners of the award were Vince Lombardi and Bob Hope.[5]

He was the Honor's Court Chairman of the College Football Foundation and Hall of Fame for 29 years.[6] Russell is a past President of the Football Writers of America. He was also a member of the Heisman Trophy Committee for 46 years and was the Southern chairman of the Heisman Trophy Committee for 30 years.

Russell received the Amos Alonzo Stagg Award in 1981 from the American Football Coaches Association, that same year he was awarded the Bert McGrane Award from the Football Writers of America.[7] In 1983, The National Turf Writers Association (horse-racing) awarded Russell the Walter Haight Award for Excellence in Turf Writing, he received the Red Smith Award for his contributions to journalism in 1984.

In 1957, Russell received the inaugural Grantland Rice Memorial Award. Russell was named to the Vanderbilt Athletics Hall of Fame as part of its inaugural class.[8] Russell was awarded the Distinguished Journalism Award by the U.S. Olympic Committee in 1976.

Russell was awarded the Kappa Sigma Man of the Year in 1981. In his hometown of Nashville, Russell was a longtime member of the Nashville Metropolitan Board of Parks and Recreation. He was instrumental in the development of Nashville's many recreation and athletic facilities.

Family life

Russell and his wife Katherine Early Russell were married for 63 years, until her death in 1996. They have four children, all daughters, and eleven grandchildren. Russell worked past the age of 90 and lived until the age of 96. Russell also of course influenced his family members. He was contracted by the United States Government during World War II to write entertainment books for the American troops. He was on the forefront of progressive, visionary journalism promoting African-American minorities in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, especially during the Civil Rights era. He covered these important people and figures when many other journalists would not.

Awards and honors

Awards named after Russell
  • Fred Russell Distinguished American Award, Middle Tennessee Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame
  • Fred Russell Award, Nashville Sports Council
  • The press box at Vanderbilt Stadium is named in honor of Russell.


  • 50 Years of Vanderbilt Football (1935)
  • Big Bowl Football, with George Leonard
  • Funny Thing About Sports, (1941)
  • I'll Go Quietly, (1942)
  • I'll Try Anything Twice, (1945)
  • Bury Me in an Old Press Box, (1955)

Relevant literature

  • Derr, Andrew. 2017. Life of Dreams: The good times of sportswriter Fred Russell. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press.

Notes and references

  1. ^ Traughber, Bill. "Fred Russell was a Vanderbilt man" (PDF). Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  2. ^ John A. Simpson. The Greatest Game Ever Played In Dixie. p. 227.
  3. ^ NSAA Hall of Fame
  4. ^
  5. ^ The NFF is the organization that directs and funds the College Football Hall of Fame.
  6. ^ The Election Board for the College Football Hall of Fame usually consists of 8-10 people on the board.
  7. ^ Other winners of this award were Paul 'Bear' Bryant (1983) and Woody Hayes (1986).
  8. ^ "Vanderbilt Athletics Announces Inaugural Hall of Fame Class". Vanderbilt University. 2008-06-26. Retrieved 2008-06-26.
2002 Iowa Hawkeyes football team

The 2002 Iowa Hawkeyes football team represented the University of Iowa during the 2002 NCAA Division I-A football season. The Hawkeyes played their home games at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa and were led by head coach Kirk Ferentz.

Iowa finished the regular-season with an 11-1 record, and were unbeaten in Big Ten Conference games at 8-0. The one loss came to rival Iowa State. With all the regular season success, which included a Co-Big Ten championship, the Hawkeyes could do little right in the 2003 Orange Bowl and lost 38-17 to the USC Trojans. Despite the loss, the 11 wins established an Iowa record for wins in a single season (matched in 2009, surpassed in 2015).

2004 Outback Bowl

The 2004 Outback Bowl featured the Florida Gators, and the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Florida appeared to come out of the gates swinging, with quarterback Chris Leak throwing a 70-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Kelvin Kight to take an early 7–0 lead. Iowa got on the board following a 3-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Nathan Chandler to wide receiver Maurice Brown, to tie the game at 7. That concluded the first quarter scoring.

Early in the second quarter, kicker Nate Kaeding kicked a 47-yard field goal, to give Iowa a 10–7 lead. Later on, Chandler rushed 5 yards for a touchdown to extend the Hawkeyes lead to 17–7. Before halftime, Kaeding connected on a 32-yard field goal to increase the lead to 20–7.

Early in the third quarter, Matt Melloy recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for an Iowa touchdown and a 27–7 lead. Florida kicked a 48-yard field goal to pull within 27–10. A Fred Russell touchdown run sealed the deal, bringing Iowa's lead to 34–10. Kaeding later connected on his third field goal, this one from 38 yards, increasing the lead to 37–10. Chris Leak's 25-yard touchdown pass to Dallas Baker, made the final margin 37–17.

Arthur Engebretsen

John Arthur Engebretsen (1 March 1892 – 16 October 1956) was a New Zealand lawn bowls player, who won a bronze medal for his country at the 1950 British Empire Games.

Fred Eggan

Frederick Russell Eggan (September 12, 1906 in Seattle, Washington – May 7, 1991) was an American anthropologist best known for his innovative application of the principles of British social anthropology to the study of Native American tribes. He was the favorite student of the British social anthropologist A. R. Radcliffe-Brown during Radcliffe-Brown's years at the University of Chicago. His fieldwork was among Pueblo peoples in the southwestern U.S. Eggan later taught at Chicago himself. His students there included Sol Tax.

His best known works include his edited volume Social Anthropology of North American Tribes (1937) and The American Indian (1966).

His wife, Dorothy Way Eggan (1901–1965), whom he married in 1939, was also an anthropologist.

Fred Pancoast

Fred Pancoast (born c. 1932) is a human resources executive and former American football player and coach. He served as the head football coach at the University of Tampa (1962–1963), Memphis State University, now the University of Memphis, (1972–1974), and Vanderbilt University (1975–1978), compiling a career college football record of 40–52–4.

Pancoast was born in Pensacola, Florida and graduated from Pensacola High School in 1949. He played football at the University of Tampa and was inducted into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1967. After graduating from college, he served in the United States Marine Corps and later became an educator. Pancoast also coached at Hillsborough High School in Tampa, Florida.

From 1962 to 1963, Pancoast served as the head football coach at Tampa. From 1964 to 1969, he held the offensive coordinator position at University of Florida. He also served as the school's quarterback coach, where he coached Heisman Trophy winner, Steve Spurrier. From 1970 to 1971, he was the offensive coordinator at University of Georgia.

From 1972 to 1974, Pancoast guided Memphis to a 20–12–1 record. He didn't enjoy the same success at Vanderbilt, where he coached from 1975 to 1978. He compiled a 13–31 record there. In his final three seasons, he posted three straight 2–9 records.

After coaching football, Pancoast went into human resources. In 1980, he took a job with Murray Manufacturing Company as director of human resources. In 1985, Pancoast founded Pancoast Benefits, an employee benefits marketing and consulting firm.He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 2007. In 2008 he was given the President’s Volunteer Service Award by President George W. Bush. In 2011, he received the Fred Russell Distinguished American Award from the Middle Tennessee Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.

Fred Russell (American football)

Fred Russell (born September 14, 1980) is an American football player who was previously on the St. Louis Rams' practice squad. He played his college football at Iowa and played high school football at Romulus High School in Romulus, Michigan. On March 15, 2007, it was announced that he had signed a contract with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League and was released on July 3, 2007.

Ran for 1,264 yards with 9 TD in 2002 while helping Iowa to an 11-2 record. Then ran for 1,355 yards with 7 TD in 2003 while helping Iowa to a 10-3 record, including a bowl victory of Florida.

Fred Russell (bowls)

Frederick Thomas Russell (20 August 1890 – 23 December 1972) was a New Zealand lawn bowls player. At the 1950 British Empire Games in Auckland, he won the men's fours bronze medal alongside teammates Arthur Engebretsen, Noel Jolly and Pete Skoglund. The New Zealand, Australian and South African fours each finished the round robin with two wins, but New Zealand then lost an eliminator match against the South Africans and did not progress to the final.

Russell was born on 20 August 1890, the son of Alexander and Emily Russell, and died on 23 December 1972. He was buried at Karori Cemetery. A builder by trade, he was a member of the Hataitai Bowling Club in Wellington.

Fred Russell (ventriloquist)

Thomas Frederick Parnell OBE (29 September 1862 – 14 October 1957), known professionally as Fred Russell, was an English ventriloquist. Usually credited as being the first to use a knee-sitting figure, he is known as "The Father of Modern Ventriloquism".

Fred Skolnik

Fred Skolnik is an American-born writer and editor. Born in New York City, he has lived in Israel since 1963, working mostly as an editor and translator. Best known as the editor in chief of the 22-volume second edition of the Encyclopaedia Judaica winner of the 2007 Dartmouth Medal and hailed by the Library Journal as a "landmark achievement," he is also the author of three novels and over a hundred stories and essays. A selection of 26 of his stories appeared in 2017 under the title Americans & Other Stories.

Frederick Russell (disambiguation)

Frederick Russell is a Canadian businessman and politician.

Frederick Russell may also refer to:

Frederick F. Russell (1870–1960), American doctor

Frederick Nene Russell, New Zealand MP

Frederick Stratten Russell (1897–1984), British marine biologist

Fred Russell (1906–2003), American sports writer

Fred Russell (American football) (born 1980), American football running back

Fred Russell (ventriloquist) (1862–1957), English ventriloquist

Fred Russell (bowls), former lawn bowls competitor for New Zealand

Fred J. Russell (died 2007), American businessman and diplomat

Grand Order of Water Rats

The Grand Order of Water Rats is a British entertainment industry fraternity and charitable organisation with some claims of freemasonry, based in London. Founded in 1889 by the music hall comedians Joe Elvin and Jack Lotto, the order is known for its high-profile membership and benevolent works (primarily within the performing industries).

Grantland Rice

Henry Grantland Rice (November 1, 1880 – July 13, 1954) was an early 20th-century American sportswriter known for his elegant prose. His writing was published in newspapers around the country and broadcast on the radio.

Larry Schmittou

Larry Schmittou (born July 19, 1940) is an American entrepreneur and former baseball executive and coach. He currently owns S&S Family Entertainment LLC, which operates a chain of bowling centers in Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana.

Schmittou was the head coach of the Vanderbilt Commodores, Vanderbilt University's baseball team, from 1968 to 1978. From 1978 to 1996, he owned several minor league baseball teams, beginning with the Nashville Sounds. He served as the Vice President of Marketing for the Texas Rangers Major League Baseball club from 1983 to 1986. In 2006, Schmittou was elected to the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. He was awarded the Fred Russell Lifetime Achievement Award by the Nashville Sports Council in 2011. In 2016, he was inducted into the Southern League Hall of Fame.

Lawn Bowls at the 1950 British Empire Games

The lawn bowls competition at the 1950 British Empire Games took place in Auckland, New Zealand from 4 February until 11 February 1950.

Noel Jolly

Noel Ernest Jolly (23 December 1908 – 23 April 1969) was a New Zealand lawn bowls player. At the 1950 British Empire Games in Auckland, he won the men's fours bronze medal alongside teammates Arthur Engebretsen, Fred Russell and Pete Skoglund. The New Zealand, Australian and South African fours each finished the round robin with two wins, but New Zealand then lost an eliminator match against the South Africans and did not progress to the final.

Jolly was born on 23 December 1908, the son of Ernest Jolly and Gabrielle Hezlam Jolly (née Dunne). As a young man in Central Otago, he was a prominent tennis player, but turned to lawn bowls as a result of injury. During World War II, he served in the Middle East, and after his return he joined the St Clair Bowling Club in Dunedin, where he won the club championship in consecutive years from 1946 to 1949. A bank manager, Jolly died on 23 April 1969, and was buried at Waikumete Cemetery in Auckland.

Pete Skoglund

Thomas Theodorus "Pete" Skoglund (25 July 1905 – 2 October 1968) was a New Zealand lawn bowls player.

At the 1950 British Empire Games in Auckland he won the men's fours bronze medal alongside teammates Arthur Engebretsen, Noel Jolly and Fred Russell. Skolgund also competed in the same event at the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, finishing in sixth place.He was the brother of politician and cabinet minister Philip Skoglund, whose son Phil Skoglund was also a champion lawn bowls player.

Skoglund died in Auckland in 1968 and his ashes were buried at Purewa Cemetery.

Peyton Place (TV series)

Peyton Place is an American prime-time soap opera which aired on ABC in half-hour episodes from September 15, 1964, to June 2, 1969.

Based upon the 1956 novel of the same name by Grace Metalious, the series was preceded by a 1957 film adaptation. A total of 514 episodes were broadcast, in black-and-white from 1964 to 1966 and in color from 1966 to 1969. The first color episode is episode #268. At the show's peak, ABC ran three new episodes a week. The program was produced by 20th Century Fox Television. A number of guest stars appeared in the series for extended periods, among them Dan Duryea, Susan Oliver, Leslie Nielsen, Gena Rowlands, and Lee Grant, who won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Drama for her role of tough-as-nails Stella Chernak. The series served as the springboard for such performers as Mia Farrow, Ryan O'Neal, Barbara Parkins, Christopher Connelly, David Canary, Mariette Hartley, and Lana Wood.

Pryor McElveen

Pryor Mynatt "Humpy" McElveen (November 5, 1881 in Atlanta – October 27, 1951 in Pleasant Hill, Tennessee), was a professional baseball player and coach. McElveen played third base for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1909 to 1911. He attended Carson-Newman College. A native of Johnson City, Tennessee, he was team captain of the 1908 Southern Association champion Nashville Vols, and was a personal friend of sportswriter Fred Russell. He coached at his alma mater, Carson-Newman College.


Ventriloquism, or ventriloquy, is an act of stagecraft in which a person (a ventriloquist) changes his or her voice so that it appears that the voice is coming from elsewhere, usually a puppeteered prop, known as a "dummy". The act of ventriloquism is ventriloquizing, and the ability to do so is commonly called in English the ability to "throw" one's voice.

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