Today, we bid a Happy 100th birthday posthumously to one of the biggest Bay Area Baseball icons. Former major league pitcher and Clearwater City Commissioner Jack Russell, who died 15 years ago, was instrumental in putting Clearwater on the map.
Born in Paris, Texas in 1905, Mr. Russell was a major league pitcher for 14 years with the Red Sox, Indians, Senators, Tigers, Cubs, and Cardinals. An All-Star in 1934, Mr. Russell won 85 games, and threw an amazing 71 complete games during his career. He put up a 4.46 ERA during his career, and became a Clearwater City Commissioner after his playing days were over, remaining a resident of the city until his death in 1990.
He was instrumental in getting the Clearwater spring training stadium that bears his name built, and in the process, helping to keep the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater for spring training, a relationship that has been maintained to this day from 1948, the second-longest city-team relationship in baseball. Jack Russell Stadium, built in 1954, hosted the Phillies until the 2003 spring training season, and their FSL affiliate the Clearwater Phillies from 1985-2003. It also hosted the championship softball team the Clearwater Bombers. Still standing in the Greenwood area of Clearwater today, it is a testament to one of the greatest figures in Bay Area Baseball history.