Russell Scales


12 Mighty Orphans - News

News Release from 12 Productions LLC February 23, 2009- Twelve Mighty Orphans Moving From Book to Movie:

A new film production company, 12 Productions, LLC, announces the acquisition of the movie option rights to the very successful book Twelve Mighty Orphans by bestselling author Jim Dent (now in its 20th printing). The company is working on producing a movie based on this true, heartwarming, Depression-era story. Members of 12 Productions have spent a year further developing the story for the film version. A number of major production companies and film industry professionals have expressed interest in the project. 12 Productions will market the project as 12 Mighty Orphans…


The Eyes of Texas- Bill Balleza's documentary on The Fort Worth Masonic Home:

The video includes a feature on Mrs. Glick, one of the Masonic Homes most famous teachers and includes various orphans, "the Home Kids" talking about their experience, how they came to The Home, and the influence of the teachers. Author Jim Dent talks about the orphanage and the story. Backround on H.N. Russell.

The feature begins approx. at the 19:30 mark and runs to 33:33 minutes (the entire program is 45 minutes).


Rusty Russell (American football) on Wikipedia

Mighty Moseley - Emeritus Physics Professor
Special feature, TCU Magazine:

Moseley's life story is a heroic saga in its own right - beginning with his humble roots on a small farm outside Wichita Falls followed by a high school gridiron glory, a physics degree at TCU and a career as a scientist working on a project that changed world history -- the atomic bomb. Moseley was 7 years old when his father died from typhoid fever. With his mother unable to support him and his brother and sister, Moseley left the small town of Dundee, outside of Wichita Falls, in 1930 and headed to Fort Worth, entering the Masonic Home, founded in 1889 to provide a haven for widows and orphans of Masons. While there, he played football "almost every hour of every day". (note: Moseley is a character in the Twelve Mighty Orphans book, received football honors for All-State and All-Decade and he counts Albert Einstein and Rusty Russell as mentors).


Heart of a Champion: The 40 Toughest Players in NFL History by Bryn Swartz (Senior Writer) Editorial December 03, 2008:

[listed as #9] Hardy Brown, Linebacker, Brooklyn Dodgers & Chicago Hornets & Baltimore Colts & Washington Redskins & San Francisco 49ers & Chicago Cardinals & Denver Broncos (1948-1956, 1960)
190-pound linebacker Hardy Brown was the hardest-hitting player who ever lived. Hall of Fame linebacker Sam Huff said, “Hardy Brown was a designated hitter. He was not a great linebacker. Is he in the Hall of Fame? No. But I'll tell you what—he had more knockouts than any of us.” Brown fractured the face of an Eagles running back, broke another player’s vertebrae, and knocked a Steelers’ running back’s eye out of its socket. In 1951 alone, he knocked out 21 players. In one game, he knocked out the entire Washington Redskins backfield one by one. His famed right shoulder was responsible for dozens of broken noses and jaws. The origin of the since-outlawed helmet-to-helmet hit is sometimes traced to Brown


Desire to win served Mites:

Gene Keel, 9 years old when his father died from cancer and 11 when his mother died from polio, chuckles these days when he watches pro and college football on TV, and the announcers gush over some coach's innovative use of trick plays and the short passing game.

"It's been 67 years since I played high school football, and we ran all those plays they run today," the 85-year-old Keel said. "We ran the hook-and-lateral, the hook-and-go, all that stuff." Keen entered the Masonic Home in 1931.

Keel, a retired pharmacist who has lived in Ballinger since 1947, played football for Fort Worth Masonic Home in the 1930s. The feats of the Mighty Mites have been brought back to life with the recent release of "Twelve Mighty Orphans."


Story of Masonic Home Orphans Football Team Compelling:

The Masonic Home Mighty Mites were the talk of Texas football in the 1930s and early 1940s.

The Masonic Home in Fort Worth closed a few years ago. But there was a time, back during the Great Depression, when everyone read about them and thousands cheered for them and turned out for their games and followed them to the state playoffs.

Hardy and the others were shipped off to Fort Worth, and he spent his childhood at the Masonic Home, where he became one of the most dominant players in the school's colorful history before embarking on an erratic career in pro football. A former teammate who lined up against him in a pro game said Hardy had the look of a "rabid dog."

Rusty Russell was the underpaid and dedicated coach at Masonic Home, and he turned his 12 little orphans into the Mighty Mites who played with the big guys and beat most of them.

Masonic Home, with just 150 students in high school, competed at what was then the Class A, or big school, level of the Texas Interscholastic League. Despite official opposition to their participation in the top division and lack of funds for decent equipment, the orphans more than held their own against high schools four or five or even ten times their size.


Former successful Temple coach who guided underdog Masonic Home profiled in book:

Russell’s term in Temple was by all means successful. He guided the Wildcats to a 25-8-4 mark in those early yet already popular days of Texas high school football. His first head coaching job came in 1922 when he led Granger, which made periodic trips to the playoffs in the ’20s, to a 7-3 mark ...he did indeed cut his coaching teeth in Central Texas and got a glimpse of what was to come, coaching in games of statewide significance and interest.

The move from Temple to Fort Worth Masonic Home looked for all the world like career suicide. Russell’s Wildcat teams drew statewide attention and fit nicely in the same conversation with Paul Tyson’s dominant Waco teams of the era that routinely won or played for state titles.

Maybe it was a calling. Maybe it was an entrepreneurial spirit desiring to start something from scratch. Even Russell couldn’t put his finger on why he would take his pregnant wife and walk away from a steady position with a bright future to accept a $30-a-week job at a school that didn’t own a football and whose field was a literal cow pasture.


Root for the Underdog - Chicago Sun-Times:

Everyone loves a story about an underdog. No, not Underdog, the crime-fighting cartoon canine. Just your average, everyday underdog — the guy or gal who overcomes obstacles and comes from behind to achieve something great.

Sports is filled with these stories, especially in the movies: "Rocky," "The Bad News Bears," "The Mighty Ducks," "Rudy," "The Longest Yard," "Hoosiers," "Breaking Away" ... and on and on... I'm convinced we'll be seeing it onscreen in the next couple years as well...Rusty Russell is the man who turns around the orphan team. ... History is filled with heroes like Russell, who see a challenge, embrace it, and start thinking outside the box when it looks as if there's no hope.


A Texas Football Story With Grit -Underweight, underfunded and underloved, these orphans ruled Texas football:

The school's age-old "Us vs. Them" method of social control only partly explains the Mites' football-field ferocity. Adding to their aggression was the subconscious anger they must have felt from having no fathers to watch them play, no girlfriends to meet them after the games and the indignity of being called "dirty orphans" everywhere they went. So they went out, not just to win football games, but to fill hospital beds with opposition players.

Like Spartan soldiers, they lived, ate, studied, worked and slept together in the dormitory. Many Mites, like Hardy Brown and Leon Pickett, carried the festering psychic trauma of seeing their fathers die....It is said that his blocks initiated the use of face masks.

In their heyday from 1928 to the onset of the Second World War, the "Twelve Mighty Orphans" built a record of 127-30-12 under coach H.N. "Rusty" Russell and his sidekick, Dr. E.P. "Doc" Hall, a Fort Worth physician who tended the Home boys and girls free for 45 years.

Though sponsored by Texas Masons, 450,000 strong, the Home could allot Coach Russell a meager salary but no football budget and no football.

In the beginning they used a soup can. But they overcame poverty, constant battles with the Texas Interscholastic League, jealous rival coaches and their spies, and unlucky coin tosses to beat the stuffing out of high school Goliaths with up to nine times their enrollment.


Masonic Children & Family Services of Texas:

Beginning with a stated need and a purpose to serve the need in 1885, the Masonic Widows and Orphans Home was operating by 1899. The Masonic Home and School in Fort Worth closed in 2005 and the campus was sold in 2007.

National Heritage Museum, Twelve Mighty Orphans

Masonic Home and School Ex-Student Association