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.