Category Archives: Southern Association

Two Clydes Pitched for Nashville in 1904

Evolving rosters are not just a thing of today, with players failing to report, contract disputes, injuries during the season, and trades. They were a thing of the past, too, in an article in the March 17, 1904, edition of the Nashville Banner reporting the arrival of Nashville Baseball Club members for pre-season training.

There seems to be just as much opinion expressed by the writer as today, as everyone is an expert in his field of proficiency and has been since Adam found himself expelled from the Garden of Eden.

“Third Baseman Lewis and Pitchers Russell and Frickie came in last night, and there are now really but two vacant places in the camp of the Fishermen (writer’s note: the ballclub was not yet known as “Vols” and it was common to call a team by the name of the manager; in this case, Newt Fisher). These are Wiseman and Smith, both of whom are expected today or to-night.”

“There are two other men on the list, Pitchers [sic] Adams and Jones, but they will not be missed a great deal if they stay at home, as there are already eight twirlers slinging balls around at the park and two or three others, more or less, of an untried stripe will not be missed.”

“Pug Bennett, who may hold down third, is not expected here until along about the opening of the season, and Willis will not be here until April 1.”[1]

Earl Lewis’ early arrival was of no help to him once the season began. He played in only 17 games for Nashville before being cast off to the Greenville Cotton Pickers in the Cotton States League. He will get another shot at making Nashville’s roster in 1905, when he will play in only seven games before being cast off.

I will return to Russell later.

George Frickie would make the roster and appear in 14 games, winning nine and losing three for the season. Wiseman began with Nashville in 1901 and became the stalwart outfielder throughout the decade, ending his career in 1911. His longevity would include 1,286 games in a Nashville uniform while performing magnificently in defense of the Athletic Park hills. Tom Smith got in 54 games at second base before giving way to Justin “Pug” Bennett, who was adept at playing the infield and a few games at catcher.

The two pitchers who “will not be missed a great deal if they stay at home,” Adams and Jones (given names not published), were attached to contracts but were not sent transportation costs, and it appeared that if Fisher determined he could draw a decent mound staff from the nine pitchers on hand, he would not need either of them.[2]

Ten days later, Fisher sent for Adams.

“Pitcher Adams has been ordered to report by Manager Fisher and is expected here today. He comes from the Missouri Valley League, where he had a first-class record.”[3]

Whether that is true is not easy to prove, although “Clyde Adams,” born in Spencer, Ohio on August 18, 1880, pitched in Greenville, Mississippi for the Cotton Pickers in 1904. Records show him winning 21 and losing 13; the following season, he pitched in 12 games for Nashville (in one report he was known as “Gold Point”[4]), so it is possible that the 1904 “Adams” in the newspaper notice was Clyde.

That is probably him in 1903, presumably with the Nevada Lunatics/Webb City Goldbugs in the MVL. The “first-class record,” as reported in the newspaper, does not show at, the premier online source for major and minor league statistics. It is recorded that he played a total of seven seasons for nine teams, not including any performances in the Missouri Valley League.

After Nashville, Adams resumed his career until 1912, finishing with a 5-10 record for the Class D Morristown Jobbers in the Appalachian League. One of his teammates was Lefty Williams, who would rise to the major league Chicago White Sox in 1916 but would be banned from baseball with seven other “Black Sox”.

On a marriage certificate application dated March 25, 1910, for Adams and the former Clara Whiteside, his occupation is “baseball player”[5]. On his 1918 World War I draft card, his occupation is lathe operator for International Harvester[6]

When his baseball career ended, he became an insurance agent[7], and at the age of 61, he listed “Self-Chiropractor” as his employer.[8] His gravestone in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Parkersburg, West Virginia, designates Adams as “Dr.”[9]

Now, back to Clyde Russell and his importance to Newt Fisher and Nashville. Unlike Adams, the multi-talented Russell would become a valuable player for three years.

Born to James and Anna Russell in Hope, Indiana, on May 24, 1880, Rufus Clyde Russell grew up on the family farm. For a time, he attended school in what is now known as Laurel Township[10], 30 miles from his home of Drewersburg, and played on the Harrison team in a game against Brookville[11]. Drewersburg is 30 miles northwest of Cincinnati.

Cincinnati was close enough for Russell, with friends Frank Wright and Jakie Singer in tow, to attend a doubleheader on September 25, 1898, between the Reds and Cleveland Spiders.[12]The games were the first postseason bouts between the two clubs to determine third place in National League standings. 

Rufus Clyde Russell would be a holdover from the previous season when he was 18-17 on a team as defending champions for the first two Southern Association seasons. The club finished a paltry 60-62 in fifth place, but Russell was a solid performer at 23.

1904 would be only his fourth season in professional baseball. In 1901, his first year, Russell was in the Indiana State League with Anderson, Indiana. In 1901, he pitched for the Denver Grizzlies in the Western League and won 18 of the 20 games he played.

In 1902, he played for three teams, Walla Walla and La Grande in the Inland Empire League and Spokane in the Pacific Northwest League, but records of how he performed are incomplete. Early in 1903, Russell signed with Abner Powell, manager of the Atlanta ball club, but was released to Nashville after pitching in a few exhibition games for the Crackers.

During the 1903 season, the Nashville Banner newspaper celebrated Russell as an upstanding human being with a deep moral spirit.

“Red” is one of the few balls [sic] players on the road who cares about religious matters. He always takes a Bible with him on his trips, is strictly temperate, and never utters an oath. He belongs to the church and, it is said, was at one time an official in the Y. M. C. A.

“Russell is one of the best specimens of physical manhood in the Southern League. When in trim, and he generally is, he is one of the speediest pitchers in the business. He is steady as an old war horse, and is not easily rattled. “Red” takes his time about everything, pitching the ball included, and that is one reason why he seldom gets rattled. He can put them over with whiskers on them and is seldom wild. When he is in the box, the members of the team feel confident that they will win.”[13]

Russell would not be as successful in 1904, not because of a lack of pitching assignments but because manager Fisher needed his big bat. However, his skill on the mound did not go unnoticed after Nashville recovered from being down 8-2 to win 10-9, with Russell as the hero. In five prior meetings, Nashville won only one game against the Travelers, and a poetic report in the newspaper taunted Little Rock manager Mike Finn while praising Russell:

Fisher’s got a twirler,

Rufus Clyde’s his name;

His hair is of a color

That looks just like a flame.

But Russell’s head is not the

Warmest thing he’s got;

For surely his good right arm

It is nothing if not hot.

Chorus (All join in.)

Um-um-um, Mike Finn, your it
is a has-been.

Tell us, is there any other
game you play.

Your hoodo has been busted,
no doubt you are disgusted.

You’re a loser, you old
“bull-doozer,” Mike Finn.[14]

Throughout the season, Fisher would use Russell’s batting skill to place him in the outfield and at first base, but not without some controversy about the size of Russell’s glove in a game played on July 26.

“Nashville won the second game from Little Rock by the score of 3-2 in thirteen innings, but whether the game will be counted for them is question, for Manager Mike Finn has protested it and announces his intention of pushing the fight to the finish.”

“The contention is over the glove worn by “Red” Russell, who covered left field for the Fishermen. The Little Rock management maintains that it was too large and would have looked far better on a first baseman or a catcher.”[15]

According to Finn, the rules read that no one can wear a glove over 14 inches unless they are a catcher or first baseman. Finn alleged Russell’s glove measured 16 ½ inches.[16]

League President William Kavanaugh ignored the protest.

“No attention will be paid to Manager Finn of Little Rock…The rules prohibit an outfielder wearing a glove of that size, but no penalty is prescribed therefor {sic} no action will be taken by President Kavanaugh.”[17]

“In Red Russell Newt Fisher has a valuable man. In addition to being a splendid pitcher, Red is a hard hitter, is a conscientious worker and is the best utility player in the league for a pitcher. When Kennedy was switched to third the other day when Andrews was put out of the game, Red was placed on first and played the position creditably. That kind of a man who always works hard and never acts in an ungentlemanly manner is worth something to a manager and is esteemed by baseball fans.”[18]

The Nashville Banner sportswriter’s commentary on August 1 called for Fisher to relax on Russell’s mound assignments.

“If Fisher will only pitch Red Russell about once a week and will not work him to death on doubleheaders, as he did last year, the sorrel-to boy will remain a star, as he showed himself to be in Saturday’s game. Russell was a crack last year until he was worked out of condition.”[19]

Whether Fisher took that opinion to heart remains as speculation, but on August 7 against the Egyptians in Memphis, Russell had three doubles and a single, accounting for eight runs in Nashville’s 11-5 win.[20]

His total games played included 56 games in the outfield and pitching in only 21. He batted .259 for the season, and his won-lost record stood at 8-10. Nashville finished in fifth place for a second consecutive season. This time, the ball club won 72 and lost 67, an improvement of seven games in the win column, led by Art Herman’s 20-19 pitching record and Pug Bennett’s 166 hits to lead the league.

Russell returned to Nashville in 1905, a season in which he appeared in 22 games, winning only five yet losing 17. But he played in the outfield for 40 games and improved his batting average to .292 on 62 hits.

He also contributed to the sports section of the Banner, which he began in 1904. It was not unusual for sports sections to report road games submitted by the opposing team’s home newspaper, but Russell consistently sent in game summaries with “Red” Russell[21] as the byline.

Russell returned to life as a farmer after his baseball career ended, settling in Butler, Ohio. When he died in October of 1954, he had become an inspector or roads for the Ohio State Highway Department. He was 74 years old and buried at New London Cemetery in Shandon, Butler County, Ohio, just over an hour from where he was born.

Clyde Adams and Clyde Russell could not have been more different in both baseball and occupations, but when Nashville owner and manager Newt Fisher sold his interest in the Nashville baseball club on July 13, 1905[22], it meant both Adams and Russell would no longer have their mentor on the club. Surprisingly, Mike Finn resigned his post in Little Rock and assumed Fisher’s managerial position in Nashville for the remainer of the season[23] and the club finished in seventh place with a 47-88 record, 40 games behind pennant-winning New Orleans.

© 2024 by Skip Nipper. All Rights Reserved.


In addition to the sources credited in the Notes, the author consulted,,,, and

Wright, Marshall D., The Southern Association in Baseball 1885-1961 (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2002).


[1] “Three More Arrivals in Camp of Fishermen,” Nashville Banner, March 17, 1904: 10.

[2] “All Fishermen Here Except Doc Wiseman,” Nashville Banner, March 18, 1904: 10. 

[3] “Adams Coming,” Nashville Banner, March 28, 1904: 6.

[4] “Tall Boy Wins in Close Game, Nashville Banner, May 20, 1905: 11.

[5] Ohio, U.S. County Marriage Records, 1774-1993:213 via

[6] U. S., World War I Draft Registration Cards,1917-1918 (Ohio) via

[7] 1920 United States Federal Census (Ohio) via

[8] U. S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 (West Virginia) via

[9] Find a Grave, database, and images ( accessed March 20, 2024), memorial page for Dr Clyde C. Adams (1880–1962), Find a Grave Memorial ID 57984325, citing Mount Olivet Cemetery, Parkersburg, Wood County, West Virginia, USA; Maintained by Passionate About Genealogy (contributor 46975682).

[10] “Drewersburg,” Brookville Democrat, February 20, 1896: 3.

[11] “Drewersburg,” Brookville Democrat, May 18, 1899: 1.

[12] “Drewersburg,” Brookville Democrat, September 29, 1898: 5.

[13] “Clyde Russell, the “Pride of Squedunk” Twirler,” Nashville Banner, July 28, 1903: 7.

[14] “Red Russell to the Rescue,” Nashville Banner, July 28, 1904: 6.

[15] “Dope for the Fans,” Nashville Banner, July 27, 1904: 6.

[16] Ibid.

[17] “Finn’s Protest Ignored,” Commercial Appeal, July 28, 1904: 8.

[18] “Dope for the Fans,” Nashville Banner, August 1, 1904: 6.

[19] Ibid.

[20] “Red Russell’s Great Hitting,” Nashville Banner, August 8, 1904: 6.

[21] “Smashes Ball into Bleachers,” Nashville Banner, May 16, 1905: 12.

[22] “Announces Sale (of) Nashville Team,” Nashville Banner, July 13, 1905: 6.

[23] “New Players for the Team,” Nashville Banner, July 17, 1905: 6.

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