…an Atlanta sportswriter around 1922 said Georgia's defense was as ferocious as a bulldog and that's how they began calling 'em bulldogs!
This is a "Goin' Back: Remembering UGA" interview with Dan Magill, long-time Sports Information Director and Head Tennis Coach at the University of Georgia, conducted by Fran Lane on April 20, 2006. We are at the ITA Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame building at the Magill Tennis Complex on the University of Georgia campus in Athens, Georgia. It's springtime here and Athens' tennis season. Apropos to that, we are talking with Coach Magill, whose 60-years-plus relationship with the University of Georgia and its athletic program makes him truly a legendary figure in these parts.
Coach Magill, thank you for being with us today.
Well, it's a great pleasure to be here, and talk about Athens and the University of Georgia.
Well let's start at the beginning, and the beginning was right here in Athens. You're an Athens boy, aren't you?Back to scenes
They say I was the first baby born at old Athens General Hospital, January 25, 1921. Most everybody was born at home before those days. Dr. Ralph Goss Sr. delivered me, and the hospital then was a three- story converted home, a beautiful old antebellum three-story home at the current site of the hospital. And later, just a few years later, they put in the first wing of the Regional Hospital which is there now, and they made the original hospital, a three-story home, they made it the nurse's home, but it was torn down when they began building the brick wing of Athens Regional. But my mother and father were from Athens. My father was really from Hartwell, Georgia, born in Hartwell, Georgia. His father had been editor of the Hartwell Sun, James Thomas Magill. My father came to the University of Georgia. He was a senior at Georgia in April 1917 when war broke out with Germany. There were about twenty-five boys, not many students, in Professor (Robert) Park's English class. Park Hall now is named for Professor Park, and Professor Park said to those twenty-five boys that day when Germany and the United States declared war on each other, he said, "Every red-blooded American boy should join the United States Army today, and fight for democracy." The next day, there wasn't any need for Professor Park to be at class. They had all joined the United States Army. And my father was in the American Expeditionary Forces in France during World War I. But he came…he never got to graduate. He just left about a month or two of graduating, but he came back and was married to my mother, who was Elizabeth Garlington Carroll, her father was editor of the old Athens Herald. Eugene Winston Carroll was his name, and he sold the Herald to the Athens Banner around 1920 and it became the Athens Banner-Herald. And my father worked for the Banner-Herald for many years and became the editor in the 30s and 40s. And my mother went to old Athens High School. She was very smart, graduated valedictorian. Mr. Ted Mell was principal then and he later was the principal, when I did not graduate valedictorian (laughter). But anyway, she was in the first women's class at the University of Georgia, my mother. But she didn't have to, but she quit school when I was born. So she never graduated either. But I did. They gave me a diploma in 1942 in journalism. But it's been a great pleasure growing up in Athens as a boy, and I grew up at the Athens Y. I went, I started going there when I was about eight years old. And the Athens YMCA, like the University of Georgia, has really been a great institution. And then I grew up on the campus, hanging around the athletic field starting out as a boy. I'm getting my breath now. But I can tell about the Athens Y.
Talk about the Y, was that Mr. Walter Forbes, was he there then?
Yeah. The Athens YMCA is the third oldest YMCA in the United States. The oldest Y, the Young Men's Christian Association, and there was a special college in Springfield, Massachusetts where the Young Men's Christian Association physical instructors were turned out…they invented the game of basketball. And the first YMCA was I believe at Harvard. The second one was at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, and the third YMCA in the United States was on the Georgia campus, the University of Georgia campus in the 1950s(1850's)And the one who brought it to Athens was Thomas R. R. Cobb Institute, later General Thomas R. R. Cobb, killed in the battle of Fredricksburg while serving with Lee's army in northern Virginia around the 1860s. And, you know, his daughter, they named Lucy Cobb, for General Cobb's daughter. But the Athens YMCA that became open to everybody in town, especially boys, young boys, that I went to, was located on the corner of Lumpkin and Broad where the Holiday Inn's parking lot is now. And the first physical director, I believe, was Walter Tallu Forbes, W. T. Forbes and he started the Athens Y camp up above Tallulah Falls. He was a great fellow, and it was appropriate that he be the first basketball coach at Georgia in the early 1900s, because, you know, the YMCAs up in Springfield invented the game of basketball. And they pioneered in the promotion of so many sports — gymnastics, softball, basketball. But I grew up as a boy at the Athens Y, and also hanging around the Georgia athletic field.Back to scenes
When I was ten years old in 1931, well let's say getting back two years before that, I saw my first football game. It was against Yale, in October 1929, they dedicated Sanford Stadium — 30,000 fans in the stadium then. It holds 95,000 now. They had 18,000 seats on the north side and 12,000 on the south side, and everybody was talking about it. I was just eight years old, and everybody was talking about the big game, the big football game coming up. Well, I thought I could play in the game. I didn't know it was between two colleges. So I went down to the game, I told my daddy I wanted to be there, and he got Charley Martin to pass me in, Charley Martin was the business manager, and he passed me through the gate and I had walked from home, in those days everybody walked everywhere, there wasn't any automobiles, and I was dressed up in my football uniform. I had got it for a Christmas present. And Charley Martin passed me in the gate, and I said "where's my daddy?"And he was in the press box, and he wasn't a sports writer, but it was such a big deal, the governors of all nine southern states were there in ceremonies before the game. And I ran down to the press box and I found my daddy, and said "Daddy! They've already chosen sides! " I was so disappointed.
You didn't get to play.
I didn't get to play. But he said, "Yeah, you can go on down there, on the sideline." There is a little sidewalk around the field, you know, and that's where I watched the game from. I didn't know anything about the game, but my biggest memory of the game was the Yale band was really fancy. The Georgia band was, the boys were just dressed in old military uniforms and they were nothing like the great Georgia band now today. But Yale had a crack band and they had on white helmets and blue coats, and they played a song that everybody, when they played this tune, everybody in the grandstand stood up and cheered, and I asked my daddy later on, what was that song? It was "Dixie". They made a lot of friends playing "Dixie".
They did. Talk to us a little bit, I had read it somewhere, that you were a bat boy and the manager of the tennis courts.
Well, as I say, I grew up on the Georgia campus. I used to cut the grass in the field. I even cut the grass with a push mower in Sanford Stadium as a boy. I wasn't the head, though, there was a little fellow named Tom, and on hot days he'd get tired, and I'd say "Tom", in fact his name was Uncle Tom, and he was an old fellow, and I'd say "I'll cut the grass. You can just sit down here in the shade" so as a boy, I used to do all that. I was an All-American flunkie. And I grew up, I started off chasing foul balls. The baseball park then was at the bottom of Lumpkin Street and it was a big sport. Have I already told the story for you?
No, so you go ahead and tell it, tell it again.
Eventually I worked my way up to bat boy, and I had the most famous person, one of the most famous people in history at the University of Georgia teaching me how to stack the bats. It was Clegg Stark, the famous water boy. I want to talk at length on Clegg later on, because he grew up on the Georgia campus. He was President (David) Barrow's cook's son, and he lived in their home on the campus, but anyway that's another story. But, baseball was a big sport in those days. The merchants closed the stores at 12:00 noon, and the band would assemble in front of our Arch and march all the way to the…Sanford Field it was called, Sanford Field at the bottom of Lumpkin, and I really was on the payroll at the University of Georgia at that time. It was 1931 or 1932, and I was ten or eleven years old, and the coach was old Bill White, and he told me he wanted me to clean up under the grandstand after every game. He said he had no money to pay me. It was just two years after the great Depression. The stock market blew up in 1929, and he said, "You can keep all the money you find". And I found a lot of Indian Head pennies, which I still have. And one day, I found a silver coin, and I went up to Coach White, and said "Coach White, what is this?"He said "It's yours. That's a silver dollar." I had never seen one. I showed it to my dad, and he made me go down to College Avenue at the bank where Howard McWhorter was manager, he was the younger brother of the great Bob McWhorter, and I started a bank account. But I don't know what happened to that dollar, I think my dad had to spend it for food for us.
Talk about your days, I know the tennis…I had read that you were manager of the tennis courts after that.
Well, I did all kinds of flunkie jobs, and in high school I hung around the tennis courts and my senior year in high school when I was going to be a freshman at Georgia the next year, Johnny Broadnax actually was the business manager of the athletic department, and he told me he wanted me to look after the courts in the summer time. And he said that he had no money to pay me. We were still in the depression years, but that I could charge ten cents for anybody playing. Students, faculty, townsfolk, anybody, but I had to manage the courts. I had to ride my bicycle down in the morning, water them, drag them, and roll them, and line them off with wet lime then, and that's how I got interested in tennis. And we used to have a city tournament, a northeast Georgia tournament, and I wanted to have a bigger tournament, bigger than the name, than northeast Georgia. So I didn't give the name, my father gave it the name, the Crackerland. So the Crackerland tennis tournament began in 1939 and later on after the war, when I returned to Athens, it grew into one of the biggest tournaments ever held. When I retired as the director of tennis at Georgia in 1994, I thought they'd continue it, but it wasn't continued. I did it just for the fun of it, and anybody carrying on that type tournament…there's a lot of work for nothing.
Tell us a little bit, I know, I had heard a story, and maybe you told it one time, Coach, and this maybe was after you were in college, but you were a member of an on-field crew during a football game, I think you were holding a down marker?Back to scenes
Well that was the last time, yeah, when I was in college we didn't have many managers on the football team. I used to field the punts, you know when the punters were punting, and also in the scrimmages I would hold the chain, you know, in the scrimmages. And this was in 1946. Georgia was playing a big game in mid-season against Alabama. Both teams were undefeated. Charley Trippi was our big star. They had a great All-American quarterback named Harry Gilmer, great passer. And I was a young sports writer for the Atlanta Journal then. I just got out of the Marine Corps, in fact, in December 1945, and I was working for the Journal. And I was just a young sports writer and I wanted to see that game, and they were going to send their older more experienced sports writers to cover the big game, Georgia and Alabama. But I said to Colonel Ed Danforth, I said "Please, let me go over there in some capacity." I said, "I'll ask Coach (Wally) Butts if I can hold the chain and I will write a sideline bar, you know." So Coach Butts let me hold the chain. In those days, alumni, it was a great honor for them to hold the chain with an alumnus of the opposing team, and that day the opposing team's alumnus was an old fellow, in his 70s or 80s. He had been captain of one of Alabama's first teams. He was a lawyer in Birmingham. And on this particular play, Charley Trippi ran about forty-five yards down the field for a touchdown. And when I used to hold the chain on practices, you know, I'd run down the field with them. We would run down. Well, you wasn't supposed to do that. An official chain holder wasn't supposed to do that, but I ran down the field and jerked the little old Alabama guy, I carried him halfway down the field with Trippi and he was cussing me from here to kingdom come, and after that game, the Southeastern Conference or after that season said no more alumni will hold the chains. The chains will be held by regular striped officials. So that was…
You brought about another change.
So that was a great honor for…
Tell us a little bit about your college years. I know you got an ABJ in 1942, but you played on the varsity tennis team and you swam?
Well, there is a good story connected with the Athens YMCA. They had a good swimming program. They pioneered the development of swimming. We had a 20-yard pool, and the physical instructor was originally a guy named Clarence Jones, and he later became the trainer, and boxing, and swimming coach at Georgia, Jonesy. But, we used to win the state high school swimming championship every year. Athens High would win it every year. And I thought we were supermen, but I found out why we used to win it. There wasn't but three swimming pools in the state of Georgia. One of them was in Athens, and the other one was at the Atlanta YMCA where Tech High and Boys High swam. But for some reason, we'd usually win it. I just figured it out, the other boys had to swim in rivers and lakes. But that's another great thing that the Athens Y did. Develop a lot of swimmers. Have I already told about Thomas R. R. Cobb?
Bringing the Y here?
I did tell you.
Did you meet Mrs. Magill while you were in college?
I was lucky to meet my wife from an old French family in New Orleans. Her father's name was Louis Favreau-Reynaud from a very old French family, and in fact, this past summer they had their 250th family reunion. Five families down there had their 250th. That was before the United States became the United States ! There were Spanish and French that were down in that part of the United States and they called them Creoles when they intermarried, so there were five families. One of the families was the Reynaud, and the other family was the Favreaus, so they were two of the five families. But anyway, her father did not…the Reynauds started the Tulane University Medical School, but her father didn't go there, he went to LSU and graduated with a law degree. And he happened to be head of the claims department at the Hartford Insurance Company in Atlanta when she was in high school. She went to old Decatur Girl's High. And there were so many of her friends coming to the University of Georgia, that she came to the University of Georgia, was a Phi Beta Kappa, and president twice of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, and I was real lucky when she agreed to marry me. She graduated in three years. It took me four and a half, but she graduated in 1943, I was in the Marine Corps. We were married in the old Episcopal Church here in Athens, in May, May 21, 1944. And we have…Back to scenes
We lived in Atlanta when I worked with the Atlanta Journal for three and half years, but Coach Butts brought me back September 1, 1949 to…he wanted to build up minor sports. Give scholarships. And he wanted me to be assistant athletic director, to do that, help him. And I was looking forward to doing it. But the first week I was here, he lost his sports information director, and he said, "I want you to fill in the sports information director." Well, I did fill in for about thirty, forty years. And also, we never did get to develop the minor sports because we began losing football games. Lost to Tech eight straight years. They were having, Bobby Dodd was in his heyday, they had fifty something thousand at all their games. Our attendance fell down to ten or fifteen thousand and had no money. But we did, Coach Butts was bemoaning that fact, and I told him "Our strength, Coach Butts, is in every county in the state. We are the majority party in the alumni. We've got more alumni than Atlanta, than Tech, so we ought to organize Bulldog clubs in all 159 counties," and that's what we did. We started in 1953. It took us several years to do so, but we organized and I spoke in all 159 counties of the state. And we had to organize three in a day sometime, in a small town at a breakfast meeting, or a larger town a luncheon meeting, a big town would be a night meeting, and in the big cities we'd have six or seven counties all belonging to the same (club). It took several years but we finally were organized, and we'd start every meeting, "Fellow Georgia Bulldogs, Chosen People, Members of the Great Majority Party of this Empire State of the South." So that was a lot of fun.
You were leading a rich, full life then.
Oh yeah, I loved it, they say I was really enjoying my work.
But very busy, I know. I want to go back and ask you real quickly. When you were at the Atlanta Journal, I've seen that you were credited with a number of things, but one of those was the Georgia High School All-Star Baseball game.
Well, Georgia High School All-Star Football game. Yeah, I was a promoter in high school sports, the first real coverage of high school sports. They gave me free reign on Sundays. They gave me a whole page devoted to high school sports. The One Star edition went to South Georgia, and the whole page was just devoted to stories on the towns, the high schools in that part of South Georgia. Then the Two Star was to Middle Georgia. We replayed it, and the Two Star that went to Middle Georgia was Middle Georgia 2. The Three Star was to North Georgia, Athens, and then the Four Star, which we replayed it about 1:00 a. m. Sunday morning, it went to the Atlanta schools. That was a lot of fun, but they…Mr. George Biggers, who was the general manager of the Journal, saw the circulation was increasing in the small towns because of the high school sports coverage. He said, "Let's us get in cahoots with the Georgia High School Association and put on the High School All-Star Football Game, co-sponsor." They ended up putting it on at Georgia Tech at Grant Field, and didn't have many fans. Well, I put it on twice and it was just the Journal's tremendous promotion. They also owned WSB radio, which we had a little radio show too, promoting high school sports. Well, the first year it was 24,000 fans. The second year it was 28,000 fans, and that was the only two years the Journal co-promoted it, and it's never been the same since. But we did the same thing in baseball. We had the County All-Stars meet the City All-Stars. We played in old Ponce de Leon Park and I brought in Spurgeon Chandler, a Georgia boy. He was a star pitcher for Georgia when I was a batboy and he later pitched on four world championship team New York Yankees. He came down and managed the County All-Stars. We brought Whitlow Wyatt, who had gone to Georgia Tech one year…he was from Cedartown, Georgia, and he had retired as a pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was a great pitcher. He managed the City All-Stars. While he was there at that game, and we had a sell-out crowd, 13,000 for that game. I don't think we charged but a quarter or 50 cents, but it was the biggest crowd, overflow crowd for that game. While Whitlow Wyatt was there, Earl Mann, the general manager of the Atlanta Crackers saw Whitlow. He said, "You ought to get back in baseball, Whitlow." He signed him up to be the Atlanta Cracker's manager and he later was the first manager that the Atlanta Braves had, Whitlow Wyatt.
I'm not sure, but you gave Ringling a run for his money, Coach Magill!
Oh, let me tell you something about Ringling. That's one of my greatest memories. In the old days as boys, Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey was the biggest thing that happened to the boys in town. We just loved the circus when it came to town. I remember one time, John Ringling North, they've had some circus pictures in which different actors portrayed John Ringling North. Anyway, I was down at the old Athens Banner-Herald offices where the federal building is now, on Hancock. I was down at the old Athens Banner-Herald building when John Ringling North came in with some pictures and some stuff, material for my father to run in the Banner-Herald, telling about what the circus was going to have. I was there. I was about 12 or 13 years old, and John Ringling North asked my daddy…he said "Young Dan here, we'd like to take him on the cities we go to in Georgia, let him travel with the circus. I'll have somebody look after him where the lions and tigers won't eat him up." That's what he said. I said, "Oh Daddy, please let me go." He let me go, and we went to Macon. We went to Columbus, Savannah, Augusta, just three or four towns, and that was the most thrilling thing, I believe I've ever been on, and the star of the circus then was a young trapeze star, the Great Wallenda. He was a young star then. He later became famous. He walked across the Tallulah Gorge later, but he was…in his youth, he was a star on the flying trapeze. Later on when he was old, he became famous for carrying his whole family on his shoulders, you know. He died in San Juan, Puerto Rico. They were dedicating some two new type of skyscrapers in San Juan, and he was walking across on a windy day, and if just one person falls, they all fall, and several of them died, including the Great Wallenda, but I'll never forget him and John Ringling North.
Well, did you go on the train, on the circus train? And travel…
Oh yeah. We went on the circus train, absolutely. I was scared to death every night, you know, that the tigers might get loose and eat me. So that was one of my most vivid memories of Athens. I wish they had…they don't have the old circuses any more, do they?
Not the same way, certainly not. So that's…"wow" is all I can say. That's a great story. You need to write that one up. Have you written that one?
No I haven't. But I am writing my memoirs now of the Marine Corps. I have a lot of funny stories in the Marine Corps.
You need to write about your circus trip too. You said Coach Butts brought you in here in 1949, and the challenge initially was going to be to support minor sports.
Develop minor sports.
Then it was the sports information director's job, but you did it all. You did everything.
Well, yeah. Coach (Vince) Dooley has said that 30-something people now do the jobs that I did, the three jobs that I did. But I did it just for the love of money. But I did want to talk about one of the most colorful characters I knew in my many years hanging around. I was an All-American flunkie. I wasn't an All-American tennis player or a swimmer, but I was an All-American flunkie.Back to scenes
I want to talk about…I've known all the famous people at Georgia starting with the star catcher on Georgia's first athletic team, baseball in 1886. I didn't see him play, but I'm talking about John Morris. That was a famous family of Morrises. They came down from Virginia after the War Between the States and joined the faculty. Charles Ed Morris was one of three brothers. He was the star pitcher on the 1886 team, and his younger brother, John Morris was the catcher. The oldest boy was Sylvanus Morris. He was quite a character and later dean of many years for the law school and the former law school dormitory is named Morris Hall for him. Of course, I never saw John Morris or those fellows play baseball in those days, but John Morris taught me German when I was in college, and he must have had a great arm when he was a catcher, because when boys didn't pay attention in his class, he would throw the blackboard eraser and hit them right in the head. One day he hit me in the head, but it wasn't because I was not paying attention. I was paying attention. I was too scared not to pay attention. I didn't want to get hit with that blackboard eraser. But the boy in front of me was the one he was aiming at, and he ducked and the eraser hit me in the head. But John Morris was…He later was faculty chairman of athletics. Getting back to David Crenshaw Barrow, he lived on the campus and was president many years. Barrow County was named for him and Barrow Elementary School. I went to Barrow Elementary School the first through the fifth grade. I met him when I was a boy. His son, David Crenshaw Barrow, Jr. , lived on Cherokee Avenue, just right across the street from me, and old Professor Barrow, they called him Uncle Dave, the students did in those days. But I met him when I was over there playing with David Barrow, III. I got to meet old Uncle Dave then. That was the only time I met him, but the best story on him, I think…or one of the best stories. He lived on the campus and his cook lived in the basement. Her son, a young black named Clegg Starks. His name was Pleas, but he was tongue tied. When he was 8 years old, he didn't have to go but 100 yards over to Herty Field to watch the baseball team play, watch the football team play, and Alex Cunningham was the coach when Clegg went over there as a boy, and he asked him his name, and he says, he tried to say Pleas Stark, but he was tongue-tied, and Coach Cunningham thought he said Clegg, and he became known as Clegg Starks. But when he died, I wrote about him and his daughter said his name really was Pleas, Pleas Starks. And it wasn't Stark, it was Starks too, so I had been misspelling it for a long time till after he died. But anyway, Clegg, later learned to throw a football 100 yards. It was due to his hanging around the fields as a boy. Then he later became the…he could throw a baseball faster than anybody I've ever seen. He won an All-Star Negro baseball game in Charleston, South Carolina, defeated the most famous baseball pitcher of his day, Satchel Paige, Clegg Starks from Athens, Georgia, beat him in that All-Star baseball game,…the halftime show at Georgia's football games in the ‘20s. Coach Stegeman was my mentor, Herman Stegeman. I'd be down there as batboy and we'd both walk home up Lumpkin Street after practice. I'd just tag along with Coach Steg. He lived out there at the end of Lumpkin and I'd walk with him up there. But he…Clegg could throw the football 100 yards, and at half time of the Georgia football games, this was before they got into the new stadium, it would be Clegg throwing the football from one end of the stadium to the other. They used to have a lot of fun together when we played the eastern teams up in New York City or Yale in New Haven. The sportswriters would ask Coach Stegeman…he wasn't coaching. He was the athletic director then. They'd say, "Do you have any new boys this year that we ought to keep our eye on." He'd say, "Yeah, we got a boy who can throw the football 100 yards." They said, "Oh, you can't do that. We'll bet big money you don't have anybody that can throw the football 100 yards." So then he'd call Clegg over. They'd make their bets. He would throw the football kind of side arm 100 yards. Clegg's arms touched the ground. He had long arms. 100 yards and Coach Stegeman would collect the money. It was known as the Steg and Clegg act.
You mention Coach Stegeman. How many athletic directors have you known, and…
Well, they used to have faculty chairmen of athletics. And Dr. (Steadman) Sanford was the first famous faculty chairman of athletics. The original Sanford Field was named for him. Then Sanford Stadium appropriately named for him. He originally…originally he had played baseball at Mercer University, but he came up to Georgia and he was an English professor. I first met Coach Stegeman on train trips. I stowed away on the train as a boy, going up to New York. The conductor knew I was there, but he didn't care because I stayed in the lounge with Clegg. That's where Clegg and I stayed, in the lounge. Dr. Sanford, after all the players and coaches had gone to bed, he would like to go into the lounge and have a libation of some kind. He and Clegg would have a libation. He never offered me a drink or anything, but he spent a little time, and that's when I first knew Coach Stegg, and all the trips, if he wanted anything, I would be his flunkie. So I was a flunkie for Dr. Sanford and he was the first real athletic director…faculty chairman of athletics they called it. Coach Steg was really…he was the greatest man I've ever known in athletics at the University of Georgia. Herman Stegeman. He was a Dutchman. He was born in New Holland, Michigan, and he wore wooden shoes as a boy. He came to Athens around 1919. He had been in the YMCA program and they were the physical instructors for army outfits, YMCA men. He was at some army base when the war ended, and he had gone to the University of Chicago, was a great all-around athlete under Amos Alonzo Stagg, the famous coach at Chicago. He'd been one of his greatest athletes, his greatest all-around athlete according to Stagg. He got him a job at Georgia as assistant football coach, and head baseball coach, Stag did. He came to Georgia in 1919 and was the baseball coach. Then he later coached football three years, became athletic director, but he loved track and basketball and he coached them a long time. He coached track up through 1937, when we won the conference and Spec Towns was the big star of that team. But he was…I learned so much from him about athletics, eavesdropping. I'd listen to him talk to the different coaches because I was a flunkie hanging around the field. I'd listen to him talk to the alumni when they'd come. I'd just eavesdrop. I learned a great deal from him and I'm so glad they named Stegeman Coliseum, our basketball home, for him, because he started basketball in the south. They had teams, but they never had a tournament. In 1920, he started the first southern, it was Southern Conference then, basketball tournament. They played in Atlanta at the old City Auditorium. Georgia was an original power in basketball due to Herman Stegeman, a Dutch boy. He had a wonderful family too. He had twins, John Stegeman and Joanna. They were twins. Then his youngest daughter was Marion Stegeman. She married Ned Hodgson. She's being put into the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame April 30, at Robbins Field in Macon (Warner Robbins). She was a WASP, women's air pilot, during World War II, Marion Stegeman.
Yeah. She and I were in the first grade together. She skipped the second grade and passed me. (laughter) I'm talking too much.
Talk to us a little bit more about…we're talking about athletic directors now. So, early on it was Coach Stegeman…
Coach Steg was the athletic director a long time and he as much as Dr. Sanford, got the Yale team to come down and dedicate the stadium. Yale was the power up east and when we dedicated the stadium, we wanted to get Yale here. There were several things that got Yale to leave the east for the first time, to dedicate our stadium. It was a big honor to get them down here. One of them was the fact that our first (UGA) presidents came from Yale. They were Yale graduates. Another one was that Coach Stegeman was on the national football rules committee with some famous athletic directors, including the Yale athletic director. They had been long-time friends. So he really had as much to do with getting Yale to come down, friendship with the Yale athletic director, as Dr. Sanford did in pushing it. And I'll tell you another fellow who was one of Georgia's greatest people, was Charley Martin. He was business manager of athletics. He came to Athens in 1908 from middle Georgia, a little country town, and he was Bob McWhorter's Boswell. Bob McWhorter was the big football star in 1910, 11, 12, and 13. Our first All-American in 1913. Charley Martin was what they called a sporting writer in those days. He wrote sports for the old Athens Banner. He was known as Bob McWhorter's Boswell. A lot of people don't know it, but Bob McWhorter Sr. was in school with Bob Jr. A lot of people I used to travel with the state Bulldog club, they would say "Did you know Bob McWhorter?" "Did I know Bob McWhorter,” I'd say. “We played in the same backfield together," Bob McWhorter, Jr. and I'd play touch football at the University of Georgia. I never saw Bob McWhorter, Sr. play football, but I did see him play softball. He was in his late 40s. Faculty all stars were playing the university all stars in softball and we played on old Herty Field. I was playing center field and Bob McWhorter was in his late 40s and he hit the longest ball, softball home run I've ever seen. Home plate was right about where the Chapel bell is not far from here. It went over my head over the old Beanery where the landscape architecture building was later.
Um hum. Denmark Hall.
Denmark. But anyway, it went out of sight into Lumpkin Street. So he was some kind of an athlete, Bob McWhorter. Have I skipped something there?
You're doing great.
I get off the…
Charley Martin, yeah. Charley Martin was really a great man in the history of Georgia athletics. His counterpart at Alabama, the big goal for people after World War II was to get in the Rose Bowl, get an invitation to the Rose Bowl. And all schools wanted to get there. It was the biggest honor. They didn't have but one bowl, the Rose Bowl, and whoever went there was national champion if they won. And Alabama went before we did. They were the first southern team to go in the mid 1920s. Charley Martin was business manager at Georgia, and he also really was the first sports information director too, but he didn't have that title, just had title of business manager of athletics. But his counterpart at Alabama was a friend of his, and he let Charley go with the Alabama team to the Rose Bowl. He was so impressed by the roses, the rose hedge around the Rose Bowl, that he said, "We'll do that at Sanford Stadium." They were making plans then to build the stadium. But it was (not until) 1929, several years later, before they built it. That's when he got the idea. No, they built the stadium and Charley Martin said, "We ought to have roses around it," but the horticulturists said, "Roses won't do here, they might work out there, but they won't work here". So they got the English privet hedge, privet Ligustrum hedge. Charley Martin is responsible for the "between the hedges". But you know, Dr. Michael Dirr, our horticulture partner now, has a prettier hedge than the privet hedge now. He has Lorapetelam, which has a red blossom, and he…the hedge is right around the field, the famous privet hedge, the English privet Ligustrum, small leaf. They have a big leaf, but this is a small leaf. Then on the other side of the sidewalk right next to the stadium, now, Coach Dooley got it put in. He was interested in gardening, and Dr. Michael Dirr in Georgia's horticulture department, he popularized a rise of the shrub, Lorapetelam, and that hedge is just magnificent. And people don't know about it, but they know about the privet between the hedges, but that Lorapetulam is magnificent when in full bloom too.
Let's talk a little bit about when you came back and after you got the Bulldog clubs going. How did we get UGA?Back to scenes
Well, in the old days, a lot of people mistakenly think that we're the bulldogs because Yale had a (bulldog) mascot for a long time. But we didn't do it because of our association with Yale. In the early 20s, Coach Stegeman had such a great defensive team and it tackled so ferociously that an Atlanta sportswriter around 1922 said Georgia's defense was as ferocious as a bulldog, and that's how they began calling them bulldogs. Gradually. And people originally, several alumni would bring bulldogs to the sidelines. None of them were the official bulldog, you know. But by 1942, our bulldog was an English bulldog. We had brindle bulldogs, and…but we had an English bulldog that some alumni in Columbus, Georgia, carried to the Rose Bowl. And there's a connection between UGA and that mascot. We had a brindle bulldog in 1953 or ‘54. He used to live in the old field house where the Rankin Smith building is now. He lived in the attic and there'd be some boys on a minor sports team that used to live up there in the attic. They could live free up there in the attic, but they had to let the dog out and walk him and feed him and everything. But this brindle bulldog died. Coach Butts said, "Get us another mascot.” I put a story in the paper, we were looking for a new mascot. Anybody that had one, get in touch with me. Well, immediately a law school student, Frank Seiler, Sonny Seiler, came up to me. He said he and his wife, Cecelia have a little puppy, and I had known Sonny when he was on the swimming team at Georgia. So I went out to their apartment, I think it was somewhere on Milledge, and saw the little puppy. It was an English bulldog, white, and it looked all right to me. They told me that he was the grandson of our Rose Bowl mascot in Columbus. Cecelia was from Columbus. I think it may have been a cousin of hers that had the Rose Bowl mascot. I went to Coach Butts and I said "I'll take you out there and you can see this little puppy and see if you think he ought to be the mascot, and by the way, he's the grandson of your Rose Bowl bulldog." He said, "I ain't got time to go out there right now, but if he was the grandson of our Rose Bowl mascot, he's got good blood, sign him up." And that's how Uga became our mascot, but he got the nickname, Uga, from Billy Young, a fellow law school student with Sonny Seiler, who was from Columbus. He said, "What are you going to name the bulldog?" Sonny said, "I don't know." He said, "Name him Uga for University of Georgia." And it's pronounced with mugga, it's not youga, it's Uga pronounced with mugga. And that's…and then Sonny Seiler and Cecelia and his family, all of them, have done the greatest job of a mascot, having carried on that dynasty of mascots of any school in the United States. They've just done a magnificent job and the first time we changed mascots, when Uga I was going to be replaced by UGA II, he was getting too old. We had a changing of the mascots, changing of the dog, and it was a ceremony on the football field. The band would play, and it was a good ceremony and the cheerleaders would get the students to yell, "Damn good dog." That's when that began. But Sonny and Cecelia and their children have just done one magnificent job.
I nearly cried when we did it the last time.
Yeah. No school has the history. And Uga V, who was nicknamed Magillicuddy, they named him for me, was mascot of the year and was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. And the greatest picture of Uga V was when he was…an Auburn player had caught a touchdown pass and UGA was in the end zone and the Auburn player taunted Uga. He taunted him. He went over there with the ball and was shaking the ball, and he made Uga so mad, he bit him. That's a great picture.
Came back to get him.
I don't know whether he bit him actually, but he tried to. It's a great picture.
In 1954 you were named head coach of the tennis program, and as I said earlier, you were leading a rich, full life. I don't know how you did everything you did.Back to scenes
Well, I became tennis coach in 1955 actually. Albert Jones was tennis coach. In those days there were very very few schools who had paid tennis coaches. They didn't invest or even have scholarships. And those teams with coaches and scholarships dominated the sport. It was just a spring quarter sport and at most schools if somebody on the faculty had been a college player. Albert Jones was…you know had been captain of Georgia's team in the mid ‘30s. He was a good player and a good coach. And he was certainly worthy of being coach, a paid coach, but they just coached for nothing and it was just a spring quarter sport. He was a law school professor, and when he became assistant to the president, Fred Davison, he had to give up his job coaching tennis. Coach Butts said for me to get a new coach. I tried to get Dr. Gerald Huff, head of the math department. He had played at SMU and coached at SMU, but he didn't have time. I tried to get Dr. Robert West in the english department. He had been freshman coach at Georgia. He was coaching for nothing when I was a freshman, and he didn't have time. So the boys on the team who I had played with in the summertime asked me to coach the team. I said, "Well, I'll do it one year." It was just two months. But I enjoyed it so much it was stress relieving, and I needed to have stress relieving because of all the work I've done. With all my jobs, I got to work at 7:00 about every morning, worked all day long, frequently to 8:00 or 10:00 o'clock, seven days a week, no vacations. I was a very poor husband and father, but fortunately, I had a wonderful wife who did a great job with our children. But it was stress relieving. I really liked it so much that I just kept it up. I really loved it.Back to scenes
Tyrus Raymond Cobb I've got some stories on him. I had him down in 1957 for Dr. Aderhold to give him a lifetime pass. Ty Cobb, called the "Georgia Peach.” I had four interviews with him and he is the greatest guy. He wasn't a mean guy.
He wasn't a mean fellow?
Well, I can tell why he had a chip on his shoulder. It was because his father was killed. He worshipped his daddy, who was superintendent of schools. I can't exactly tell this story. But his daddy had gone out of town and he came back to town unexpectedly one night. He couldn't get in the house. So he went in the window and he was shot dead.
It was either by his wife or her lover.
That ruined the young Cobb. He left town as a boy. He had a chip on his shoulder and when he was playing baseball at 18 or 19 years old for Detroit, he'd go into the towns and they would say, "Hey Cobb, who killed your daddy? Was it your mother or her lover?"And he would go up into the stands and just beat the hell out of the guys. And he had a chip on his shoulder all his life. It was due to that. And you can see why. Now I asked him one time. I had four interviews with him, two in ‘46, one in ‘50, and one in ‘57 just before he died. I asked him, I can't talk about Cobb, though. I asked him, I said, "What's that story about you sharpening your spikes?"
Yeah. Going in with them filed.
He said "That's the biggest lie ever told on me. There have been a lot of them" he said. He said, "I would clean my spikes. All baseball players clean the mud off their spikes, and that story started. We were playing somebody and one of my teammates was up there on the dugout on the top cleaning his spikes, just cleaning the mud off, and they had a story, and there's Ty Cobb sharpening his spikes so he can cut them when he runs the bases.” But Ty Cobb was something. God, he was great. He was so nice to me. I could tell some stories on him. In 1950 we were playing … well, I'll tell it later.
Go ahead. Tell your Ty Cobb…
Well, in 1950, we were playing St. Mary's in San Francisco, Kezar Stadium, and Georgia's first famous coach was, well the most famous coach they ever had was Coach Charles Herty, because he invented the process by which you make paper out of pine pulp, but he was not a football coach, he just read from the rule book, but he was most famous for that job he did inventing paper out of pine pulp, the process developed. But anyway, Pop Warner had been our coach, and later a famous coach of the Carlisle Indians, and Jim Thorpe, and famous coach at Pittsburgh, and he retired after coaching Stanford. He was living in San Francisco. And I asked Coach Butts, could we invite old Pop Warner to sit on the Georgia bench during the game? He said "Good idea." So I did invite him, and he accepted. When I saw him, he was old, and I said "Coach Warner, how've you been doing?"He said, "I'm et up with arthritis." So then I asked Coach Butts, you know, I said, "Can we invite Ty Cobb?" who was living in Palo Alto then. Can we invite him to sit on the bench? He didn't go to Georgia, but in one of my interviews, he told me his daddy wanted him to go Georgia, to study medicine, but he went into baseball. Anyway, Ty said, "You can tell Coach Butts that I appreciate the invitation, but I don't want to sit on the bench. Can't see a damn thing from there." (laughter)I said, "Well, how about sitting in the press box with me?" He said, "I'll take you up on that, and how about coming out and having supper with me tonight?"And I did, in Palo Alto. He was very nice to me.
That's a great opportunity. Let's go back then and talk a little bit about your family. Tell us what…Back to scenes
Well, I was just very lucky that Rosemary Reynaud agreed to marry me, May 21, 1944. And our first child was born about a year later, and I wanted to be present for his birth. I was stationed at a base in North Carolina, and Rosemary had left to be in Athens for the birth. I had asked for leave from the commandant of the Marine Corps, and I never got the leave. I was in San Diego in the dentist chair, getting wisdom teeth pulled. That's what they'll do for all officers before they go overseas. There's no dentist out in the jungle. They had their wisdom teeth pulled. Well, this dentist's name was Keyes, lieutenant commander Keyes, and I just asked him in making conversation, "Are you any kin to the movie star, Evelyn Keyes, who played Sue Ellen, Scarlet O'Hara's younger sister." He said "She's my sister."
How about that?!
Anyway, just as soon as he had finished, while he was taking my wisdom teeth out, I heard on the base's PA system, "Lieutenant Magill report to the adjutant's office." So after he took my teeth out and stuffed both jaws with cotton, I went to the adjutant's office, and he said, "Lieutenant Magill, I got good news and bad news for you. The good news is the commandant has approved your request for leave, but it got lost in the shuffle when you were moving from North Carolina to out here at San Diego. The bad news is you ain't got but three days left." I said, "I'll take it." I wanted to be present for the birth. And the Marines, you've learned that they can do anything, so that was going to be a monstrous job for me to go back to Athens and be back to…He said "You gotta be back here by 0900 Monday." This was Friday afternoon. But the Marines have a motto, “can do.” They can do anything, they say,” I can do it.” So I caught a plane over the mountains from the naval air station in San Diego to El Toro Marine Air Station right over the mountain, spent the night there. The next morning, I caught a Marine plane to Eagle Mountain Lake Marine Air Station in Texas. Ned Hodgson of Athens, a friend of mine, he was married to Marion Stegeman, was executive officer there at that air station, so I just went straight to his office, and said, "Ned, you got any planes going to Atlanta?"He said, "No, I don't." I said, "I need to get there." I told him why. He said, "There's a plane leaving in about a half hour from the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport." I said, "Well, I can't make that." He said, "Yes you can. I'll have my aide get in the jeep and rush you there, and I'll call the airport and ask them to hold it if they can." We got there on time. I got into Atlanta later that day, the afternoon, took a bus to Athens, and then I took a cab from the Greyhound bus station to Cherokee Avenue and that night Rosemary said "I think I'd better go to the hospital." So we went to old St. Mary's Hospital there on Milledge Avenue, no longer there. Early the next morning, Ham was born. My son Ham, Daniel Hamilton Magill, III. He was born early next morning. I kissed Rosemary and Ham goodbye, got the bus back to the Atlanta airport, caught an Army plane to Love Field in Texas, and then another service plane to Douglas, Arizona, took the bus into Tucson, Arizona, and early the next morning, got into San Diego and got there by 0900”, Can do,” you know, and two days later, shipped out to the South Pacific. That was my first baby, and later we had two daughters, Sharon Reynaud Magill, and then we had a daughter, Molly Harvey Magill, named for my great grandfather, Hugh Harmon Harvey from down in Jasper County, near Shadydale, Georgia. He had, after the war, you know…the one reason the (southern) United States has had so many more officers in the Army and Navy than any other section, is because after the Civil War, they had no money to go to college, but they could go free to West Point or Annapolis, and my great grandfather, Hugh Harmon Harvey, had an appointment to West Point, and he got his education there, served his minimum time in the army, and then he came back to Shadydale. One time I asked my grandmother. I said, "What did Papa Harvey do for a living?" She said, "Why he didn't do anything. He was a gentleman." (Laughter)Oh, boy!
Well let's go back then again and let's talk a little bit about your tennis.
Well anyway, getting back to my daughters, Sharon and Molly were graduates of Georgia, and they were both Chi Omegas at Georgia and pretty girls. Sharon was Miss Cotton Bowl one year when we went out there, they'd let somebody at Georgia be the Miss Cotton Bowl. She was Miss Cotton Bowl one year. And Ham, though, didn't go to Georgia. He was gifted, got his brains from his mother or my grandmother, I mean my mother too had brains, but his mother had brains. When he was in Barrow Elementary, the teachers told Rosemary that he was gifted, and he went to Choate Prep School. One reason she got the nursery school going is she needed some money to send him to prep school, but after the first year he got an academic scholarship to Choate, and he graduated valedictorian at Choate and he went to Princeton because his friends there at Choate were going to Princeton. He was a champion tennis player. He and I won the Southern Father/Son doubles five time. Anyway, he went to Princeton and graduated magna cum laude in three years in English. He was great in English. But he went to med school and I think the reason he went to med school was because Rosemary's forebears were…had started the Tulane Medical School, and he got his med degree at Emory University. During the Vietnam war he was a doctor in the Air Force and now he's got a cardiology group here in Athens, but he doesn't play any tennis anymore, but you see, I had two boys that I…we didn't have any scholarships when I was tennis coach. I just tried to develop Athens boys to be players, and we had one of them won the national junior singles. Danny Birchmore beat Jimmy Connors in the quarterfinals. Billy Lenoir was even better. He was probably the best player we ever developed here, but his daddy, Professor James Lenoir, was in the Law school. Billy was national junior boys 18 champion. But he went to the University of Arizona because Professor Lenoir's oldest son, Carl Lenoir, had asthma so bad. That's the reason he moved out there, due to the climate in Arizona. Billy went to Arizona made All-American and the Tennis Hall of Fame. Ham went to Princeton. If we'd had Billy Lenoir and Ham here at Georgia, of course, we had no scholarship, we'd have been better before we were.
I was getting ready to talk about your tennis program. You coached 34 years, is that right, coach?
Yeah. I really enjoyed coaching. It was stress relief.Back to scenes
Yeah, we probably have the finest facilities here now. We became the mecca of college tennis. They put the Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame here because we were putting on the NCAA championships. We drew the biggest crowds. They put the Hall of Fame here, and I was trying to raise money for the Hall of Fame building. That was back in 1983. That was about the time Kenny Rogers married the beautiful Mary Ann Gordon of Athens. He had met her on the Hee Haw TV show. She was one of the pretty girls, never did say anything, just looked pretty. She…you remember Nurse Goodbody on that show? She wasn't Nurse Goodbody, but she could have been. They moved to Athens. She had helped me in her high school days. She had helped me because her grandmother was the bookkeeper in the athletic department, Ma Gordon. She was the bookkeeper and she'd come down there to visit her grandmother, and her grandmother called me and said "Mary Ann's getting in the way, I can't balance the books. Put her to work." I paid her 50 cents an hour helping in my office, folding envelopes, before they had folding machines, licking stamps before we had a stamp machine. Turned out to be the best investment I ever made. When she and Kenny were married, he built that palace out there near Colbert, Georgia, and he had taken up tennis. She brought him down here and wanted to know if he could play tennis. I said, "Sure." Then shortly thereafter, he said he wanted to make a financial donation to the tennis program. I said, "We're trying to get money for the Hall of Fame." Well, he ended up paying the whole amount, $200,000. He was a natural athlete. He never finished high school, never went to college, and took part in sports, but he was a natural athlete and a great singer and made a lot of money out of it. We benefited by it. Originally, I put a bronze plaque in front of the building that said, "Thank you, Kenny Rogers, for your generosity to college tennis." He said "Take that sign down." I said, "You're the boss." I took it down. He said, "Put another one up there and say "Thank you Mary Ann and Kenny Rogers." That's the sign we have up there now, a bronze plaque. Then Kim Basinger, another real pretty Athens girl, helped us out a lot. When she was a girl, a real pretty young girl, she used to come down and watch her daddy, Don, and brother, Mick, play in our tournaments. I put her to work at my drink stand. When she was behind the counter, we sold more Coca-Colas than we ever had. She made more money on tips than I did the whole year. I never saw one man that didn't give her a dollar or five dollar bill and say, "Keep the change, honey." Never saw one woman tip her, though. They were jealous. She left Athens at a young age and went to New York to model…from there to Hollywood. I didn't see her for about 15 years, but I kept up with her, reading about her all the time, seeing some of the movies. In the summer of 1990, we were having the Crackerland Tennis Tournament, and her brother Mick's little boys were playing in the Crackerland tournament. They were good young athletes. One of them later was on the Georgia track team. She came up to me, she had on a bandana and dark glasses. I didn't recognize her. She said "Coach Magill, there sure have been a lot of changes around the tennis court since I used to sell your Coca-Colas." Then I recognized her. "Oh Kim, boy it's good to see you." The next day her brother said "Kim wants to make a donation to the tennis program." He said "What do you need?"I said, "Well, the NCAA wants us to get lights here, so that we can wait around if it rains and play at night, play outdoors. This is supposed to be the outdoor championships." He said, "What will it cost?"I said, "I swear I don't know – between 80 and 100 thousand dollars, I guess." The next day, Kim gave me a check for $90 thousand dollars and she was here for the dedication ceremonies, and did a wonderful job.
You won 706 tennis matches. 706 to 183 was your record?
They were matches here. That was the record at that time. All records are meant to be broken. I coached 34 years. Dick Gould, the great Stanford coach, coached 38 years, and he holds that record now, and I'm going to be out in Palo Alto. I've never been to Palo Alto in the daytime. I was there one night with Ty Cobb. Dick Gould has asked me to come out there. He's putting it on, and he'll do a great job, but I have to be there for the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. I'm still the curator and chairman of the Hall of Fame committee.
You won 13 SEC championships, 8 indoor and 2 national championships, is that right?
That's all right. Our greatest player was a little Swede named Michael Pernfors. I almost didn't give him a scholarship. He wasn't but 5 foot 7 and a half, but his coach down there at the junior college, Sanford Junior College, below Miami. There's a Samford University in Birmingham. This is Sanford College below Miami. He wasn't a good player as a junior in Sweden, but he was good enough. They didn't even give him a scholarship to Sanford Junior College, but he went there and he played number two on the team. They had another Swede named Svenson, who played one. And he was undefeated at number two. Then he was undefeated at number one, and his coach, who I'd known, called me and wanted me to give him a scholarship. But by that time, we had choices of whoever we wanted to get really. We had become a power. I wasn't going to give him a scholarship, but I had a call one day from one of my former players, named Paul Groth, a left-hander from Decatur, Georgia. He had played German team tennis, and he had also recommended Boris Becker to me. I got a letter from Boris Becker saying "Dear Herr Magill, thank you for the scholarship offer, but I've just been selected to the German Davis Cup team and I won't…." This was the same time I could have had Becker and Pernfors, but he turned pro. Paul Groth called me up and he said, "I understand you're interested in this little Swede, Michael Pernfors." I said, "Yeah, have you ever seen him play?"He said, "Yeah, he just beat me in the finals of professional tournament down here. I played as a pro, he played as an amateur." I said, "Well, he'd be good enough to make our team. I may be interested in him." He said, "You better give him a scholarship. He'll be the best damn player you ever had." And he was. I gave him a scholarship, and at that time, you couldn't work out. I don't know whether you can to this day. You couldn't work out a player if you're visiting. So on his visit to Athens he couldn't work out. I didn't know what kind of player he was, never seen him play till September of his first year. He only played two years. He was a junior college graduate. September of his first year, that was the fall of 1983. We had boot camp two weeks before school. I was working them out twice a day. His first workout, my assistant coach was Manuel Diaz, who did a great job as a head coach, and Pernfors could hit the ball off balance better than anybody I'd ever seen. He was just very agile — very strong from the waist up. I said, "That little Swede…he's going to more than make our team. He's going to be our number one player." The next day, Pernfors was really trying to show me how good he was. He just pulled out all the stops. He was hitting the ball a mile a minute, and I turned to Manuel, I said "That boy is good enough to win the NCAA tournament. He's caught on to my coaching faster than anybody I've every had." (Laughter)And he did win the NCAA two straight years. And he's been a great friend. He is now…He had tough luck. His high school sweetheart died in an automobile accident in Sweden, but he married late in life, a Swedish girl named Hansen, and they had a little boy a couple years ago. He had an unusual name, it's a Swedish name, called Figge, Figge — they've got a little boy now.
What other players from your team…
Oh, we've had a lot of great players.
You mentioned Danny Birchmore.
Danny Birchmore was a wonderful player, and Norman Holmes was a wonderful player. He was from Florida. And Manuel, Coach Diaz, was a wonderful player. Oh, quite a few.
Talk about Becky Birchmore, Coach.
Now Becky was a good player too. I taught Becky how to play. I tried to get a women's athletic program started in Georgia when we had the Wickliff twins in Athens. They used to play on our courts in the early ‘50s, but the women in charge of women's intramural athletics, they didn't want an athletic program. They didn't need Title IX. All they had to do was just have the women in charge of women. They could have had the women's program. Then I tried to get them to have a women's program when Barbara Dupree, Sterling Dupree's beautiful daughter, she became state women's champion. They still didn't want a women's athletic program. So Barbara Dupree had to settle for being Phi Beta Kappa and campus beauty queen, and having a beautiful daughter, who was on “Entertainment Tonight,”Julie Moran. She was Julie Brown originally because Barbara married a baseball player at Georgia named Brown from Thomasville. She became selected one of 50 most beautiful women on television, or in the world, Julie Moran. But anyway, and then we had Becky Birchmore. Becky was a talented girl player. Danny was talented. Becky was talented. Of course, Fred was even more talented, their father, Fred, who rode his bicycle around the world, you know. He was an accomplished boxing champion. I could talk forever on Fred. But Becky, about the time she was in college, in the mid ‘60s, the Southeastern Conference said women can take part in college athletics if they can make the men's team. Some of them made it in swimming as a diver, and some of them made it in tennis. Becky earned her letter in tennis at Georgia. She couldn't make our men's team. I played her as a substitute, though. Fred helped me at the courts. I didn't have any help except me and Fred. He'd drag and roller because he loved to work. Loved physical exercise. He could work all day. Becky played on our team, and I played her as a substitute, and she never lost a match. She won in singles and doubles. It's the only girl ever made a letter on a men's athletic team at Georgia to this day. When she was awarded, given an award at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, given to people…former tennis players who have made lifetime achievements, great, she was head of the dermatology department at Harvard. She got some kind of an award, several thousand dollars that she was supposed to give to her college for their women's tennis program. But Becky stipulated that it not be for women, that it go for the men's program, and that's a true story.
You've seen some great athletes over the years, and not just in tennis, but if you were…what would be
Well, Clegg Starks was one of the greatest, the old water boy at Georgia. He could throw a football a hundred yards, and he threw a baseball the fastest. He was one of the greatest, and it's too bad they had not…too bad that it was a long time later before they broke the color barrier. Jackie Robinson, who was a great athlete at UCLA, but he was born in Cairo, Georgia, Jackie Robinson was. But, of course at Georgia, we've had so many great ones, Bob McWhorter. I didn't see him play, though, except softball. Herschel Walker, was a great one, and Francis Tarkenton. We've had some great quarterbacks. I think Francis Tarkenton, Athens boy named for the great Methodist bishop, Francis Asbury. Francis Tarkengton's daddy was a Methodist preacher. Tarkenton grew up at the Athens Y. He's a product of the Athens Y too. He used to play ball games out on Sanford Stadium before the regular game. The kids would play with each other out there. Then he led Athens High to the State High School Championship, beat Valdosta on Sanford Field one time. Then he led us to the conference championship. In pro ball, he was even greater. He led the Minnesota Vikings to three Super Bowls, and his coach at Minnesota, Bud Grant, said Tarkenton was the greatest quarterback ever to play in the NFL. He is in the National Professional Football Hall of Fame. He is in the National Collegiate Hall of Fame. When we had our coronation party for the ‘59 championship team, Harold M. Walker, our beloved poet laureate, ended a great toast to him." Here's to Athens' favorite son, the fearless pilot, Tarkenton." (laughter)
Well, of course two of Georgia's greatest presences in athletics were Joel Eaves. I had seen him play high school sports. He used to play for Old Tech High, and I'd seen him when he played for Auburn. He was a three-sport star in football, baseball, and basketball. He loved basketball. We dedicated the Stegeman Coliseum on George Washington's birthday in 1964. He wanted the biggest crowd he could get. We ain't going to turn away anybody. I promoted it, and we didn't turn anybody away. We sold all the tickets. We let everybody in. They sat in all the aisles. They sat out on the court. Their feet were on the boundary line. We had 15,000 fans there for the game, and we won the game over Tech. But, Coach Eaves got cussed out afterward because the fire marshal said "You broke all the fire marshal's rules." Never again has there been that crowd. They wouldn't let them sit in the aisles. They wouldn't let them sit on the court, but that was a great thrill and Coach Eaves loved basketball. In fact, the basketball gym at Auburn is named for him. And Coach Dooley, certainly was a great football coach at Georgia. His teams didn't make many mistakes, and I think that was really due to his training in the Marine Corps two years. They teach you not to make any mistakes. And his teams…if you don't make any mistakes, you can stay in the ball game if you don't get any penalties. He had great control. His teams controlled the ball. They didn't make many mistakes. Well-disciplined teams. His teams made a lot of money and it enabled them to put that money into other sports. Football is the king sport. It pays for practically all the other sports, you know, and Coach Dooley's winning teams helped put Georgia's other teams on the map, giving them the…and it helped us have great facilities.
Well, anything you'd like to tell us? Any words of wisdom. A remarkable life and a remarkable memory…Back to scenes
Well, I could talk forever. There are so many people I haven't named at Georgia. So many people.
I was going to say, we're going to have to do a part two sometime.
Well, I'd love to do it, because I can talk forever on. But I have learned what it takes to win in athletics. You've got to get the horses to win the race. You've got to have the materials. You've got to have coaches that do more good than harm. It's the horses that win the race, not the coaches. Coaches that do more good than harm are all right. Thirdly, you've got to be lucky. You've got to get the breaks, don't have your good players hurt, put in jail, or flunking out, and then it also helps a lot if who you're playing's best player is hurt. (laughter)Those are the things it takes to win.
Those might be great words of wisdom to end on today.
All right.Back to scenes