Russell, Vinal “Red” (1998)
From Aroostook County comes a big right-handed pitcher to join the HoF mound corps.
“Red” Russell graduated from Fort Fairfield H.S. in 1941 after pitching for the Aroostook County champions. Following the end of World War II, baseball really took off in “The County” and the Canadian Provinces. Fort Fairfield was one of the leading teams and Russell was one of the premier pitchers. in 1946, Fort Fairfield won the Northern Aroostook League title. With money available to lure good semi-pro players and promising collegians, the baseball was very good and very competitive. In 1947, “Red” was one of only three “locals” on the “Forts” team. Ali the rest were “imports”.He was Known for his “drops” and “hooks .
In 1949, Fort Fairfield hit the jackpot. The Wanderers finished their season with a sparkling 41 wins, 7 losses and 2 ties. The team was labeled “the best baseball team that ever struck Aroostook Co. or the State of Maine”. Coached by Bill Bonville, the club had six captains-elect from New England colleges including Dick Tettelbach of Yale, who later played for the Washington Senators and New York Yankees. Dick Cormier (HoF”92) at 19 was the “baby” of the team. “Red” Russell went 13 and O for this team.
Also in 1949, “Birdie” Tebbetts brought a group of Major Leaguers to Maine and one of their exhibitions was in “The County’.
“Big Red, as he was dubbed, opened on the mound for the Aroostook All-Stars.
His line for 4 innings read 4 strikeouts, 1 hit —- O Runs. Tebbetts was quoted as saying Russell would have made the “big time” if scouts had circulated in the area when he was younger.
He continued to play in the early ‘50’s but gradually focused more of his attention on golf.
He worked for the police department, owned a restaurant, and retired from the Post Office several years ago.
He was described as ~Big (6’0" and 200 plus), easy going, affable and a “gracious winner and good loser .
He has a son John, a Fort Fairfield teacher, and a daughter, Mary.
VINAL E. ‘RED’ RUSSELL
FORT FAIRFIELD – Vinal E. “Red” Russell, 81 . Feb. 12, 1923 - Sept. 24, 2004