Talkin' Sports: Remembering Furman Bisher
Todd Cline and Will Hammock talk about the legacy of the late sportswriter Furman Bisher.
EDITORS NOTE: Will Hammock is the sports editor for the Gwinnett Daily Post. He writes a blog titled, "Will's Word." It can be found here.
When Furman Bisher began writing for the Daily Post early in 2010, I knew it would be a great addition to our paper. I just didn't realize how great.
Almost immediately, I began receiving calls and emails from readers expressing their gratitude for giving the sportswriting legend an outlet for his columns. Each one had the same refrain — we've really missed reading Furman (everyone called him by his first name as if he was an old friend, never using Bisher in the note) since he retired from the Atlanta paper in 2009. I got at least five emails during his two-plus years writing for us from old friends of Furman, who wanted contact info on him to reconnect.
Furman was flattered that people were still interested in contacting him, and he took his job with Southern Community Newspapers, Inc., the Daily Post's parent company, seriously. I got to speak with him fairly regularly in recent years regarding his columns, whether it was a change he wanted to make or if he just wanted to make sure we got his column (for a guy who wrote the bulk of his stories on a typewriter, email wasn't exactly his specialty).
While the professional interaction was enjoyable, it didn't match the day I spent with him last year. Daily Post publisher J.K. Murphy, editor Todd Cline and I went to his Fayetteville home for a visit and then went for a lunch at his favorite local restaurant. His wife Lynda, a very talented artist as we discovered, joined us.
Both of the Bishers were more than gracious. They were genuinely interested in finding out about my children (then 5 and 7 years old), what sports they played and where we vacationed. When I mentioned that my daughter loves to fish, Furman issued a sincere invitation to come down and fish at the lake he lived on anytime.
While Furman was more interested in learning about us than he was with talking about himself, we managed to pry some neat stories out of him. We asked about legendary sporting events, ones that we had only read about, but he attended in person. Like the first NASCAR race. Like every Super Bowl but one. Like nearly every Kentucky Derby.
It was clear that Furman loved the Derby. Memorabilia (including every one of his press passes to the horse race) from Churchill Downs was a major part of his basement, though, to be fair, calling it a basement doesn't seem right. It was more like a museum, with a library nearby.
The museum was jammed with credentials, photos and awards, all accumulated in more than 70 years as a sports writer. The walls were completely filled with framed items or shelves stacked with other pieces of sports history. His office upstairs was just as memorable, with the centerpiece being the typewriter he used to pound out so many stories.
The library part of his basement was equally intriguing. While writers now can research any fact or info they like on the Internet, Furman came from a different era. When he wanted to know something, he did it the old-fashioned way. He kept shelves of media guides and stat books, ranging from every PGA Tour media guide dating back to the 1940s to guides from Super Bowls he covered.
J.K., Todd and I truly enjoyed that day with Furman. We still talk regularly about how great it was to spend time with him, and how we'd love to do it again.
We'll miss not getting that second chance to chat with him and we'll miss not being able to share his writings with our readers.
If you grew up reading Furman's columns, have any favorite memories or anything you'd like to say about him, feel free to leave me a post here. We'd love to hear them.