In Memory

Russ Spicer

"Spice" was the legendary Hall of Fame football and baseball coach at HMHS from 1948 -1978. He continued coaching baseball for many additional years at Paulsboro and Moorestown High Schools. Coach Spicer was a well loved and respected member of the community and a great father figure for many of us. As students at HMHS from 62-66, we witnessed spectacular football seasons in '65 (7 wins, 2 losses), and an undefeated season in '64. Only the HMHS band could roar louder than the crowds in the stadium on those crisp, fall Saturday afternoons as we screamed approval of each successful play. We lost Coach Spicer in 2009 but will never forget all those glorious, sunny Saturday football games.

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04/28/16 12:50 PM #1    

Richard Slacum

Mr. Russ Spicer had the gift of projecting confidence and good judgement, regardless of one's relationship with him. Between his outstanding sports coaching, please recall that he had the very mixed blessing of teaching Driver's Ed. The picture that is published may seem to be a team sporting event, but was him watching me parallel park.

He was a fine and admirable man, and an asset to HMHS.

Richard E. Slacum

04/28/16 09:16 PM #2    

Chuck Robson

Spice was the greatest, he really was. Even when he caught me smoking in the middle of Grove street (on my way to get a certain young lady to go out with George Shoemaker because her mother didn't approve) and stopped his Rambler in the middle of the street and just said ---"turn in your equipment tomorrow". I could go on about the famous " Frank the Bank" shower scene.


04/29/16 11:30 AM #3    

Doug Clevenger

Russ Spicer was a central figure in my development as an athlete and a young man.  It began back when I was a baseball little leaguer.  I was lucky enough to be on our all star team which my father coached with Lefty Holloway (HMHS class of ’65 Howard Holloway’s dad and Haddonfield policeman).  My father was smart enough to have Russ give our team special instructions on several practice days.  What he taught us was invaluable and contributed to our efforts as we progressed through the tournament which finally ended in the state championship game.


Coach Spicer gave me individual instruction as a pitcher when I was of little league age.  I went over to his house on Ardmore Ave and had catches with Chris.  My dad loved Bob Feller and he had me mimic his pitching windup and motion, but it was Spice who taught me the mechanics of how to pitch. 


Spice was a perfect fit for me as a football player and baseball player.  He sometimes lost his temper with an individual’s or the team’s performance, but that is not what I remember the most.  He also had a calmness about him that you could just feel.  He was a great observer when he was on the practice field.  He seemed to miss nothing.  He had an instinct on when to let things slide (rarely) and when to “coach” the team or individuals on a particular technique, play, or situation.  When Spice spoke, you listened.


Russ was dedicated to his craft and put in long hours to make sure that his players were prepared.  But it was not just about winning.  He must have loved teaching young men as much as he loved the game itself.


When I think of Coach Spicer I remember: 

  • precision, attention to detail, repetition 
  • wind sprints at the end of practice on cold darkened evening skies 
  • yelling “Holly Cow” or “cut out the joviality”.  Spice never used profanity.
  • the gait of his fast and purposeful walk while on the football practice field
  • his baseball uniform on game day - always perfect
  • his laugh as he marveled at the inability of Joe Berg to grasp simple blocking instruction or at the antics of certain clownish players whom I will not name (rhymes with “carry”)
  • manufacturing a run without out a hit (walk, steal second, sacrifice bunt to third, squeeze play  home)
  • “When you throw the ball three things can happen and two of them are bad” which is why we only passed the ball a few times each game in football.


What a coach! What a man!  What a very fine man.  I’m so grateful that he was part of my life.

05/01/16 10:41 AM #4    

Vicki Meece (Knowles)

What a tribute!  Thanks, Doug, for taking the time to share these insights about Spice's influence on you. Great confirmation of his values being replanted in his players.

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