After 4 seasons in the minors, Nixon made his Indians' debut on April 20, 1957. He and 36-year-old Jim Hegan each caught about 1/3 of the games, with the rest handled by Dick Brown and Hal Naragon.
In 1958, Russ took over the #1 catching job, while Dick Brown was his backup. The following year, his playing time was decreased, with Brown starting more games.
In 1960, Nixon was twice traded to the Red Sox. In March, the first trade was voided when one of the players refused to report. In mid-June, a second deal involving all different players was completed.
Although not joining the team until mid-June, Nixon managed to start more games than the other Red Sox' catchers.
1960 was the high point of his Red Sox' career, as he slipped to 2nd or 3rd string behind Jim Pagliaroni and/or Bob Tillman during the 1961-1964 seasons.
In 1965, Mike Ryan arrived in Boston to further crowd the catching picture. Prior to the 1966 season, Nixon was traded to the Twins, where he continued as a backup catcher (to Earl Battey and Jerry Zimmerman).
After 2 seasons with Minnesota, Nixon returned to the Red Sox in 1968. He spent part of the season in the minors. After the season, Russ was selected by the White Sox in the rule 5 draft, but was released prior to the 1969 season, ending his 12-year career.
Nixon managed the Reds and the Braves in the 1980s.