Holland, Russ (1992)
Back in the 1930's the Pine Tree League, embracing teams from Androscoggin, Oxford and Franklin counties and, at times, reaching into New Hampshire, was a top-flight semi-pro league. And the Worumbo Indians, with a home base at Lisbon Falls, were among the elite of the Northeast's diamond clusters.
From this rich background comes Russ Holland.
Holland was a schoolboy sensation at Lisbon Falls H.S., where he won over 75% of his games in the 1926-29 seasons.
included in his victories was a defeat of Lewiston High, one of the large school leaders.
if was fashionable for outstanding ballplayers to attend Hebron Academy at that time, and Huss did exactly that.
for two years, he was the ace-of-staff for Charlie Dwyer (HoF '81) and his “Big Green" machine. At Hebron, Russ had as his battery mate the inimitable Freddie Harlow (HoF '74).
Holland is labeled “mound performer deluxe" and Fearless Freddie as “garrulous": in one of the Hebron stories.
The rugged right-hander, who also played the outfield, possessed the main requisites for a consistent winner - the “fire“ ball and the “sharp“ curve.
He took these tools to the Pine Tree circuit, where he pitched for “Bucky" Gaudettes (HOF '71) Lewiston Buccaneers, among others.
In a 1932 classic, he bested "Jabber" Joyce (HoF '75) in a 10-inning battle. To beat Joyce, Holland turned in a no-hitter.
He was an All-Star choice on numerous PTC teams. On one All-Star club he had as teammates Maine HoFers, Charlie Small (75) and Gaudette.
During a fine 1935 season, he was selected by the Worumbo Indians and their manager, the ex-Red Sox shortstop Freddie Parent, a Charter HoF-er.
He accompanied the Indians to Wichita, Kansas for the national semi-pro playoffs where the Maine nine won three games before suffering elimination.
Also in 1935, Holland got a look-see from the Boston Red Sox.
Following a Fenway fling in which he threw a lot of BP, Russ was offered an opportunity in the southern League for $25 a week. Thanks to Fred Gage, Lewiston sportswriter, we have Holland's words.
‘| was making more than that back home, so it didn't sound very attractive.
These were depression times and I'd just gotten married.
| was getting $18 a week at Pepperill, umpiring five games a week in the Twin City League at $2 per game, and getting $15 to $20 a game pitching on the weekends.“ So much for organized baseball in the depression era!
Holland continued to pitch for a number of seasons in the Twin City League right into World War II days.
He also umpired, both in the schoolboy and collegiate ranks.
Russ and Alice Holland have been married over 60 years and the Hall welcomes them tonight!