|Furman Bisher interviewing Shoeless Joe Jackson in 1949|
When I was in elementary school and on through high school graduation I was avid reader of the paper…..not just comics as you might think. It began as a job…something added to my allowance list. It was my assignment each day at 5:30 p.m. to walk across the railroad tracks in front of my house and visit the black vinyl Atlanta Journal-Constitution box that clung to a wooden pole by the highway. Gradually, instead of just getting the paper for my father....I began to actually read it.
I always turned to Lewis Grizzard’s column…..then Celestine Sibley and of course, Furman Bisher. I didn’t always know exactly what Mr. Bisher was discussing because sports was not my favorite topic, but I did like the way he put words together.
Now like Grizzard, like Sibley……Bisher is gone dying yesterday of a heart attack at the age of 93.
I was amazed to discover he managed to get the only interview with Shoeless Joe Jackson regarding the 1919 Black Sox Scandal, and he didn’t just write for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but was published in Sports Illustrated and even The Saturday Evening Post.
I only read one of Mr. Bisher’s books…..his biography of Henry Aaron, of course.
During the same year I was born….1962…..Mr. Bisher’s reputation came under fire when his name was attached to an article regarding UGA’s Wally Butts and Alabama’s Bear Bryant and allegations they both had been involved with fixing games. Bisher did conduct a few interviews for the article, but they were not included in the final piece….and he didn’t write it.
Still ….there are some who think he wrote it.
It’s not fun to hold you head high when folks around think one thing…..and a whole other scenario of events make up the real truth. I’ve had some experience with that, and it’s a character-shaping episode for sure.
Bisher often ended him columns with the Hebrew word “Selah”. This is a word that often appears in the Book of Psalms and has been interpreted different ways, but many sources state it can be translated as “Stop, and think on that….”.
As someone who writes I can appreciate the direction. Too often we read something as we eat, as have a few minutes waiting for our oil to be changed, or just to get a quick rundown on the news of the day.
Do we really know what we have read? Have we truly comprehended what the writer….what the reporter was trying to get across? Do we under the implications of what they are trying to say?
Bisher just wanted you to take a few minutes and ponder.
He estimated that across the span of his career he had written 15,000 daily sports columns, 1,200 magazine articles, and more than a dozen books.
Dedicated and disciplined……most certainly.