Review — A Life of Dreams: The Good Times of Sportswriter Fred Russell by Andrew Derr

Dream Come True

Whether it’s a childhood fantasy or a well thought out plan, dreams can and do come true, some by chance, some by choice, and maybe none more frequently than in the world of sports.

Author, Andrew Derr is a 1992 recipient of Vanderbilt University’s Fred Russell-Grantland Rice Scholarship for Sports Journalism. It is befitting that as an author Derr pay tribute to one Vanderbilt man who made the scholarship possible.

Fred Russell, Sports Writer

A Life of Dreams: The Good Times of Sportswriter Fred Russell, Derr tells the story of how a young man’s dream of living in the sports world becomes a reality for Fred Russell. Russell’s life represented integrity in the world of sports journalism and though his love of sports started in the small community of War Trace, Tennessee, his sports columns took his name from Nashville to every major city in the US.

The network of Fred Russell followers is amazing considering he worked without Twitter, Facebook, and cell phones. Russell’s life, as told by Derr, is chock full of sports history including (mention of) the scandalous story of Olympian Wilma Rudolph.

Derr highlights Russell’s courtroom experience, as he tells of Russell covering an Atlanta trial. The lawsuit was against the Saturday Evening Post charged with libel by Wally Butts, University of Georgia Athletic Director, and Paul “Bear” Bryant, University of Alabama Head Football Coach.

Fred Russell was a loved and respected journalist. Derr credits Russell as founder of Banquet of Champions, and provides a list of awards attributed to Russell throughout his sports writing career.

Fans, Students, Journalists

This is a natural read for Vanderbilt University fans or students. Students will know VU history lives in the pages of Derr’s book. Sports history addicts will relish in details Derr outlines, albeit the book is not always chronological.

Lastly, though Derr often repeats himself, this book is a necessary read for journalism majors, especially sports writers, Russell’s legacy and the message Derr conveys best is how to realize your dream. Remember “if you built it they will come”? Russell’s message relayed by Derr is if you work at your dream, build it, it will become a reality, and others will be there along the way to help make it the biggest and best dream ever. It doesn’t matter if it’s a childhood fantasy or a well thought plan, dreams can and do come true.

Reprinted with permission from 2nd & Church magazine


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