Talkin' Sports: Remembering Furman Bisher
Todd Cline and Will Hammock talk about the legacy of the late sportswriter Furman Bisher.
I didn't grow up in Georgia, so I began reading Furman Bisher columns later in life. But for many in this area (this state really) part of growing up as a sports fan was following Furman in the paper.
During my time as a sports reporter and sports editor I often saw firsthand how Furman, who died Sunday at the age of 93, affected those who made their living in the same profession as their hero.
One fond memory was at a Georgia Sports Writers convention years ago when a reporter was given the honor of driving Furman from the meeting at the AJC to the restaurant where we all met for dinner. It was a neat chance to spend personal time with Furman, and the reporter showed a reverence you might associate with meeting a religious figure.
Made sense, seeing as Furman's writing prowess and longevity made him seem omnipotent to us poor schmoes doing our best to bang out a game story. Though his pedigree could have allowed him to be otherwise, Furman's endearing trait to those of us in the sportswriting business was that he made time for fellow writers no matter how small or large the beat or paper. Which is why social media is filled this week with remembrances from a plethora of writers, each sharing his or her interaction with one of the giants of the genre.
In his famous piece about Ted Williams not tipping his cap after ending his Boston Red Sox career with a home run, author John Updike penned the line: "Gods don't answer letters." But that wasn't Furman, who handled the written word and the treatment of fellow writers with equal aplomb.
My best memory of Furman is a trip to his home last year that is recounted in Will Hammock's column in today's sports section. But mainly I remember all the small interactions I had with him at various events that left me thinking it was neat that he remembered me and even neater that he took time out to make that known.
My favorite Furman story is one that I didn't witness but have heard many times. At a Georgia Southern-Furman game during the time that Adrian Peterson (nicknamed AP) played for Georgia Southern, the home crowd started chanting "AP, AP, AP." As the chant continued, Paul Newberry of the Associated Press stood and waved as if the cheers were for him. Not to be outdone, the visiting fans began cheering "Furman, Furman, Furman." Showing perfect comic timing, Furman Bisher stood and waved as if the cheers were for him.
For those who grew up reading him, they always were.
Email Todd Cline at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Wednesdays.