Stone Skipping legend Russ “Rock Bottom” Byars was the first competitor to be inducted into the Mackinac Island Stone Skipping Hall of Fame. A special induction ceremony held Saturday, September 23rd on the banks of the Allegheny River in Franklin, Pennsylvania. Shortly after, Russ succumbed to cancer on October 6, 2017.
Russ was the Guinness World Record Holder from 2007 to 2013 With 51 Skips. Since his first contest in 2003, Russ won 14 major tournaments. He is a six-time Franklin Rock in River Pennsylvania tournament winner and an eight-time Mackinac Island Stone Skipping & Gerplunking Club (MIS&GC) National Champion. From 2007 to 2012 Russ dominated nationally, winning the Little David Trophy an unprecedented six years straight.
Russ was famous for his tag line, “Skips Stones for Fudge” which boldly emblazoned his competition tee shirt. With his characteristic humor, Russ shared in an ESPN 360 interview that it was the lure of fudge that drew him to the sport (the MISS&GC awards a year’s supply of Ryba’s Mackinac Island fudge to the winner). Russ’ record setting 51 skips in 2007 drew national attention from the media and Russ went on to appear on ESPN 360 and CBS Sunday
Russ’ legacy in the record books is skips achieved, records held and tournaments won. However, his legacy on the banks of the Allegheny, on the shores of Mackinac Island and in the hearts of stone skippers everywhere is that of a gracious competitor, an ambassador of the sport, an inspiration to the youth and a world-class skipper that embodied the whimsical roots of the sport.
Morning. Russ’ outgoing, plain speaking and quick-witted persona made him a media favorite and has endeared him to stone skippers everywhere. His dominating ability, gregarious personality and large frame earned him the fitting moniker “The Babe Ruth of Stone Skipping”.
Russ’ tournament record shows how he earned his reputation as an “All Conditions” skipper. He performed at the top of his class in the rough water conditions of Lake Huron on Mackinac Island and on the flounder-flat conditions on the Allegheny River in Franklin, Pennsylvania.
GSSSC Great Southern Stone Skipping Championship
MISS&GC Mackinac Island Stone Skipping and Gerplunking Club
PA Franklin Rock In River Pennsylvania Stone Skipping Championship
- Movie documentary: “Skips Stones for Fudge“
- ESPN 360
- CBS Sunday Morning with Bill Geist (2009)