Some of the athletes selected for Stoneham High’s Athletic Hall of Fame
were dominant in one sport, but for John “Jack” Russell, Class of ‘40,
all three seasons were opportunities to shine.
coach, Howard “Doc” Gordon, spotted Russell’s talents early, employing
him on the pitcher’s mound as a freshman. Russell then became a regular
on the football team and hockey team in his sophomore year, while
continuing to hurl for the baseball team.
In his junior season Russell both punted and passed for the football
team. His “far flung passes”, according to The Stoneham Independent, to
teammate Bob Bingham secured the title of league-leading scorer for
In hockey he continued to be a mainstay and in baseball his strong
hitting matched his strong pitching for the Stoneham nine. In his senior
season, he “flicked passes through the breezes,” according to The
Independent, for all three touchdowns in Stoneham’s 20-6 defeat of
For his efforts Russell was named Greater Boston Interscholastic All
League in hockey and football, All Scholastic in hockey and graduated
with ten varsity letters.
Russell was impressive enough to be offered a scholarship at
Dartmouth, but after an ankle injury, followed by four operations,
Russell declined. Nevertheless, Russell impressed St. Louis Cardinals
scouts at a tryout camp but turned down an offer to sign with them to
pursue other avenues.
In 1945 he replaced Doc Gordon as football coach at Stoneham High at
the age of 24. Russell was still able to make a living on the ice, going
to the Eastern League to play for the New York Rovers, a farm team of
the New York Rangers, and the Brooklyn Crescents.
Russell eventually settled in Stoneham with his wife Mary and raised
five children: Andrea, Jack Jr., Sharon, Larry and Pamela, until his
passing in 1990.