Russell H. Bell, Jr.

Athlete

Russell H. Bell, Jr. quickly gained the admiration and respect of his teammates and coaches as his athletic skills were honed on the local and regional baseball diamonds, basketball courts and football fields. He regularly dominated each game and each league he played in. Newspapers in South Jersey routinely featured his name in sport’s section’s headlines.

Entering Bridgeton High School in 1952, Russ’ excelled with his award-winning play as a 3 sport letterman in baseball, basketball and football. Russell was a key player and leader on the BHS varsity baseball team that won South Jersey Group 4 Champioships in 1952 and 1954, competing against Camden, Collingswood, Atlantic City and Vineland.

As a pitcher and centerfielder, Russell earned two All State Awards, an All Group 4 and All County Awards. Russell attracted interest from scouts from every major league team during his BHS career, particularly from the New York Giants. Russell was signed by Giants Scout Frank Burke to a Professional Baseball Contract shortly after he graduated in June 1955. His signing bonus was $500 together with subsequent bonuses of $3,000 and $2,500. His monthly salary was $175.00

Russ soon reported to the Giants minor league team, the Sandersville Giants in the Class D Georgia State League and played in 22 games that summer with teammate and future Hall of Famer Willie “Pops” McCovey. An illness in August 1955 shortened his season. Russell lost 40 lbs. in a very short time.

Russell returned home to recover and prepare for the 1956 season. That season and the 1957 season came and went without a cure for the undiagnosed and untreatable illness.

Russell’s contract was purchased by the Philadelphia Athletics in 1958 through 1961.

While illness restricted and shortened his pro baseball career, Russell’s stellar high school career was recognized with First Team All Century Classic Era Team honors (1939 – 1974) and induction into the South Jersey Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995.

During the off-seasons with Giants and the Athletics, Russell earned his Bachelor of Art’s teaching degree from Trenton State College (The College of New Jersey).
For 4 decades he taught Drafting at BHS where both his students and colleagues praised his teaching skills and professionalism.

For 3 decades, Russell and his wife, Delia (Dee), were a highly respected real estate sales team as members of the Roarke Agency. Many local homeowners have Russ and Dee to thank for the purchase of their first home.

Married for “forever”, the Bell’s have 2 children and 4 grandchildren.

The All Sports Museum of Southern New Jersey proudly welcomes Russell Hires Bell, Jr. into its Hall of Fame on this date, May 4, 2024.

Russell H. Bell, Jr.
Russell H. Bell, Jr.