He was well known and popular as a writer, however he was also a charismatic public speaker, Russell was widely regarded throughout the South as one of the foremost authorities on the world of sports. Noted for his humor and occasional practical jokes, he was a classic storyteller who could hold any size audience captive.
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.
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.
Russell and his wife Kathryn Early Russell were married for 63 years, until her passing 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.
As a journalist, he was known for his dedication, fairness and positive writing style. He was also known for his unprejudiced coverage of all people regardless of race, creed or religion. In addition, Russell was known for his sports humor and practical jokes. He published three books of sports humor in the 1940s.
Russell is a member of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters 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.
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.