Every sport yearns to have a player who disregards injury for the betterment of the team. Every community is proud to have an individual who gives of himself unselfishly to make the town a better place. Everyone who was associated with 1994 Branford Sports Hall of Fame inductee Russell “Butch” Gordon viewed an outstanding three sport athlete while at Branford High School in the early 1950’s and a dedicated, community-oriented person.
Born in Branford on October 20, 1935, Gordon attended Branford High School from 1950 to 1953. As a freshman, he saw varsity playing time on the football (back), basketball (guard), and baseball (pitcher) teams and played with and for 1993 Branford Sports Hall of Fame inductee Joe Paul, fellow inductee Robert Massey and 1992 Hall of Famers Warren B. Sampson Kr. and Pete Ablondi. It was in his sophomore season when Gordon shared the experience with his teammates of being on a championship squad. The basketball squad recorded a 14-5 record that year, including a 10-2 Housatonic League standing, good enough to share the league title. In the Class B state quarter- finals, Branford was edged by Woodrow Wilson by the final score of 57-56.
The following season, Gordon was part of two outstanding teams. On the gridiron, Branford enjoyed a 4-3-1 record, which included a Housatonic league tie with East Haven and Shelton. In the annual Thanksgiving Day classic, East Haven entered the clash as the beasts of the Housatonic League, undefeated and unscored upon. That changed dramatically on this day, midway though the third quarter when Gordon intercepted a pass setting up the famous touchdown pass from Bob Mason to Joe Paul, ending East Haven’s reign. The Hornets basketball squad enjoyed a 16-5 year and once again Branford reached the Class B State Tournament, losing to Shelton in the quarter-finals by a score of 51-47.
Besides playing three sports in his senior year, Gordon acted as Class President. The football squad relished a 3-2-1 record and the basketball team concluded its season with a 13-6 record and a trip to the semifinals of the C.I.A.C. state tournament. Upon graduating from Branford in 1953, Gordon attended Central State University in Xenia, Ohio, where he pitched on the baseball team and was involved in various college clubs before graduating in 1958 and playing semi-pro ball in Piqua, Ohio that same year. “Butch” as he is known to many, served in the United States Army from 1958 to 1960 as First Lieutenant Quartermaster Corp in Fort Dix, New Jersey. He resided in the Washington D.C./Maryland area for 31 years and served as teacher, assistant principal and principal within the elementary and junior high school systems.
Now retired and a resident of Branford, Gordon is married to his wife, Martina, and is the father to Valerie Gordon Boyd and son, Russell E. Gordon. “This award is an honor for me because my peers voted me in. My peers encouraged me and worked with me to become a better athlete. This is truly an honor,” said Gordon.