Veteran Columnist Bisher Hangs Up his Pen


Long-time sports columnist Furman Bisher has retired. The 90-year-old's final column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, composed on an old Royal typewriter that was used for his first assignment in 1950, ran October 10.

Bisher's newspaper career dated back almost 60 years to when he made his debut April 15 (income tax day), 1950. Over the decades Bisher rubbed elbows in the press box with such legends as Red Smith and Shirley Povich (the late father of Maury Povich).

His interview subjects were some of sports' greatest figures in the 20th Century, including "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, Joe Louis, boxer Primo Carnera and Jack Nicklaus. In his final column (to read in its entirety, visit http://blogs.ajc.com/furman-bisher-blog/2009/10/10/transcontinental-memories-of-so-many-fun-mark-the-end/?cxntfid=blogs_furman_bisher_blog), Bisher wrote:

"Once I wrote six columns a week. I thought I was supposed to. Then five, then four, then three, then down to one. That means I have one day in seven in which to write something that stirs the blood, or something that misses the plate. A stinker. I don't know that there is a graceful way to take leave. It doesn't require a lot of space, I know that.

"How many continents has it been, how many nations, how many flights, how many airports, how many sagging beds in bawdy rooming houses, and how many languages, with or without translation? Oh, and yes, and how many fellow travelers, wonderful friends on all those continents, and on the streets in this town and in my own land?"

Bisher once served as sports editor and a columnist for The Sporting News. He wrote for Sports Illustrated, The Saturday Evening Post, and many other national publications. Besides other sports books, he authored "The Birth of a Legend: Arnold Palmer's Golden Year," in 1960.

Bisher was the senior writer among the hundreds of reporters and other journalists who come every April to Augusta, Ga., for the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. During the 2006 tournament, Golf Channel called Bisher the "dean" of Masters journalists. He also covered every Kentucky Derby since 1950, and every Super Bowl but the first.

Interestingly, Bisher opposed the ultimately successful effort for golf to return as an Olympic sport, writing in a recent blog: "The Olympic Games is an imposition on the great lineup of golfing events we have already in place around the world. We have the British Open, U.S. Open, the Masters, the five World Championship events, the Ryder Cup, the President's Cup - now striving for attention as baseball and football classics dominate the screen - the various international women's events and the British and U.S. amateur championships."

Bisher's closing passage in his final article went: "Perhaps we shall see each other again at Thanksgiving, or the Masters, but I take my leave today with deep regret. Selah."


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