We are sad to announce the passing of a baseball legend, Ron Russ, at 82 years of age. In the late 50’s and early 60s he was known to be an outstanding pitcher with a variety of pitches and very good ball control, with his fast ball estimated at over 100 miles per hour. 20,000 people would attend Norwood oval in South Australia to watch the televised State level matches he played.
Ron was the Australian pitcher in the 1959 Australian All Star team; and played Claxton Shield (baseball's national championships) representing South Australia throughout the early 1960’s and for New South Wales in 1958.
He won four Shipway medallions for best and fairest, the Patrons Trophy with North Adelaide 1961/62, the News trophies in 1961 and 1963, and innumerable other awards and trophies. He was the first baseball player inducted into the Hunter Valley sporting hall of fame in Newcastle in 2013, for his contribution to the game. He was named as pitcher for South Australia Baseball "Team of the Century 1908-2008".
Ron made many lifelong friends through baseball, who he would play with then later face as opponents. In one example, Ian Chappell was Ron’s catcher in Ron’s last and Ian’s first Claxton shield games. They faced each other on opposing teams later at the Masters games in 1994 in Brisbane and were delighted to be reunited.
As a young man, Ron was seen throwing a tennis ball, and invited to join a game of baseball. They said, you can throw, so you be the pitcher. He knew so little about the game that his response was “ok, where do I stand?”. From that start, Ron followed his love of the game from NSW to SA, leaving his job as an electrician and boarding at Rolly Vaughton’s pub in Adelaide. He continued to play and coach throughout his life as part of local clubs, with a never-failing love of the game. His wife, Helen, and two daughters, Julie and Caralyn, were his regular supporters, and sometimes vocal hecklers of the opposition.
Ron represented Australia again as part of the Australian Aces at the World Masters games in Phoenix, Arizona in 2001, 2003 and 2007, in over 60 and over 65 divisions. At his last Master’s games, in 2007, he was 70 years of age.
Although retired for many years, Ron played two more seniors games, with North Balwyn Stingers. At the age of 76 he played with his son-in-law Steve Pahos and grandson Adam Pahos, against his former team mates at Knox. Ron pitched for two innings, giving up just one run. Two years later, when his youngest grandson Ryan turned 14, and Ron was 78, he was struggling to make the distance with a pitch. When the coach called him up to the mound Ron dug deep and pitched well for an entire innings. He was determined to fulfill his dream of playing baseball with both his grandsons, and these were amongst the proudest moments of his life.
Both Ron’s grandsons have represented Victoria in junior leagues, and currently play seniors firsts and seconds. Ron’s daughter Caralyn and son in law Stephen are both active in the baseball community and at their MCC club. Ron’s granddaughter Jasmine Stout (MCC, Lacrosse section) is also following in his footsteps. She won the B grade women’s league best and fairest in 2019, and also represented Victoria U15 in 2015, winning the national championship. Ron was proud that he attended all this season’s baseball games and every one of his grandchildren’s State representative games, often travelling interstate with his family to attend. Ron’s love of the game never wavered, and he enjoyed his last game as a spectator just a week or so before falling ill.
Ron played with many clubs, inspiring younger players and making lifelong friendships. A few of these clubs included:
Ron will be remembered on Friday 1st November at 5pm at an event for those whose lives he touched from all areas of his life – his family, golfing buddies, from his years on his cattle farm, school, motor bike riding, and from his days as a salesman. The event will be held at MCC baseball club, Surrey Park, Surrey Dr, Box Hill VIC 3128. Wear your baseball cap, if you like.
For those planning on attending, an RSVP on the facebook event would be helpful. https://www.facebook.com/events/2513768318860474/?ti=cl ), or an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with subject heading “Ron” and the number of people will help us plan catering.
If you wish to submit an anecdote about Ron or a photo please do so on his facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ron.russ.1610), or via email email@example.com with subject heading “Ron” and “anecdote about xxx”. We will read these out, or may invite you to come up to speak if you request that.
Rather than flowers, we think donations to a baseball prize in Ron’s name would have pleased him. We have created a fundraiser on facebook, entitled “donations in lieu of flowers for a baseball prize in Ron Russ’ name”. A link will be shared on his facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/ron.russ.1610