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BISHER: Huber leaves behind impressive legacy

Furman Bisher

Furman Bisher

It isn't to unscramble a career as varied as Jim Huber's, beginning with his developing years in Florida -- Ocala, I believe -- and wending along through South Carolina and Georgia, where he settled into a television figure of international status. He arrived at a desk just outside my office at The Atlanta Journal about 1980. I was the sports editor, but the man who ran the department for me -- now get this, for it isn't easy to comprehend -- was Lewis Grizzard. So I'd surmise that it was Lewis who hired him.

From that point on, tracking Jim's career wasn't easy, though I do recall that he and Tom Saladino of the Associated Press collaborated on a book titled "The Babes of Winter," a story of the old Atlanta Flames, hardly a best-seller. Now, Jim's pace quickened. He moved on into television at an appropriate time, when Ted Turner's CNN empire was firing up, and under the guidance of Bill MacPhail, who had assembled a staff of sports broadcasters, including Jim Huber.

Some of the others included Nick Charles, Bob Kurtz and Fred Hickman.

I'm not certain just where Jim Huber was aiming his career at the time, but he found it when TBS set a microphone in front of him and gave him an audience. He spoke in a confiding tone and you could believe you were his personal audience of one if you listened closely. He developed that talent covering NBA basketball, but he actually achieved his peak when it came to golf, which is a personal opinion.

I might say that there was an element of Walter Cronkite in his style, but I doubt that Cronkite ever came across with the warmth of Jim Huber. He covered the realm of golf across the nation, then into Europe where he transferred his style and warmth to the British Open. His interviews with international players set him aside, especially in the major championships, and peaked when he set himself up on familiar ground at the Masters Tournament at Augusta National.

No event, though, was more penetrating than the British Open of 2009, when Tom Watson came within a stroke of becoming the oldest champion in history, this at Turnberry. Jim has just published his accounting of the upset win by Stewart Cink, in a book titled "Four Days in July."

Jim awakened with a coughing spell on the morning of Dec. 24, and again on Christmas Day. He was diagnosed with acute leukemia, and on Jan.2, he was gone. Thus was taken from us, one of the most professional voices in sportscasting. Shockingly.

Not only that, but a genuine friend and companion on the sports beat.

Furman Bisher is one of the deans of American sports writing. The longtime Atlanta sports journalist is a member of the Georgia and Atlanta Sports Halls of Fame and in addition to his newspaper writing has authored multiple books on major figures like Hank Aaron and Arnold Palmer. He writes periodic columns for the Daily Post.