Meandering through decades of journalism, people, places, and memories
Welcome to the Old Sports Dude farewell tour. After 45 years in the newspaper business — most of it covering sports on all levels in Mississippi — this week begins my final year as a journalist.
It would take me 500 columns, at the least, to share all the stories and moments that have become part of who I am as a person, but I will attempt to do it in far less than that.
First let’s go over the ground rules for content of this column each week: There are none.
Whatever strikes my fancy, I will write about. It may be centered around certain events; it could be about people; it could be about the past, present, or future. There will be a heavy dose of sports for sure, but I’ve also worked as a features writer, editor, general interest columnist, and hard news reporter. I’ve been a coach, an umpire, a disc jockey, am currently a pastor, and have even run for public office.
Over the coming year here are just a few of the names you will see in print inside the confines of this column: Barbara Bishop, Ryan Satcher, Bradley Bishop, other family members, Ronnie and Leigh Ann Key, Andy Kennedy, Brian Cole, Sean Oakley, David Keen, Mrs. McKay, Herschel Walker, the Rev. Bob Wilburn, Marcus Dupree, Dwane Taylor, Jerry Rice, Jim Redgate, Alissa Scott, Lucy Harris, Jack Bouchillon, Jerry Rice, G.V. ‘Sonny, Montgomery, Jimmy Kemp, Bernard Hulin, Paul Barrett, Mr. Harpole, Erik Dampier, John Wayne Bohl, Joe T. Cook, Steve Saxon, Jean Hendrix, Demetrius Hill, Corky Palmer, Gary Holdiness, Lake Thoms, Steve Swogetinsky, Ricky Sullivan, Frank ‘The Hammer’ Williamson, Mac Barnes, Clara Norton, Billy Watkins, Carl Blue, Sylvester Stamps, Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant, Margaret Womble, Phil Niekro, The Blackburns, the Rev. Bob Wilkerson, Leon McKee, Tim Ellis, Pete McCleskey, Dr. Bill Scaggs, Jim Prince, Ray Hisaw, Buddy Stephens, Earl ‘Boo Jack’ Carter, Tommy Joe Miles, Judy McLeod, Cliff Sanders, Dale Murphy, Michael Phelps, Davey ‘The Wiz’ Whitney, Shaquille O’Neal, Dominique Wilkins, Bob Seger, Orley Hood, Betty Lou Forbes, Will Clark, Odie Keen, Art Nester, Johnny Vaught, Kenyon Ross, Harry Kemp, Tony Terry, Bob Dylan, Michael Dukakis, Kyle Bush, Scott Berry, Bo Carter, Dennis ‘Oil Can’ Boyd, Cooper Sanders, Josh Hesse, Peter Gammons, Trae Embry, Dee Outlaw, Mac Gordon, ‘Pistol Pete’ Maravich, Usher, Jerry Strader, most all people named Swogetinsky, Todd Yates, Stevie Nicks, Suzanne Monk, Rick Cleveland, Marty Stamper, Michelle Smith, Lindsey Hall, Victoria Vivians, Bud, Speedy Calvert, Terry Mike Robertson, Sid Bream, Lindsey Alexander, Ralph Garr, Jerry Letteri, Jack Wilson, Ja’Marcus Bradley, Archie Cooley, Doug Amacker, Rod Barnes, Mr. and Mrs. Skewes, Rafael Palmeiro, Joey Boykin, Michael Jordan, Ray Narro, Derrick McKey, Jack Nicklaus, Nancy Lopez, John McEnroe, Ricky Black, The Edwardses, Mark Hudspeth, Robbie and Honk Sullivan, Bob Dylan, Wayne Gretzky, Sid Leist, Cliff Lee, Will Price, Gary Beals, Rocky Higginbotham, Robbie Robertson, John Anderson, Dominique Dillingham, Dale Earnhardt, Tanya Tucker, David Mote, Martha Nabors, Dennis Thames, Gary Saunders, Dorothy Thompson, LeBron James, John C. Stennis, Paul Phillips, Barry Vanlandingham, M.C. Miller, Mike Justice, Ida Brown, Gov. J.P. Coleman, Larry McCullough, Joseph McCain, Lewis Grizzard, tons of friends and acquaintances, Evan Edwards, David Vowell, Hank Aaron, Don and Peggy Webb, Jay Powell, Ted Spencer, Matthew Mitchell, Jimmy Satcher, Andy Ogletree, Ruth Bryant, Jud Gartman, Dennis Bean, Steve Clements, Mr. Hoskins, Kevin Shipp, Monique Harrison Henderson, Willie Totten, Raymond Mizelle, Archie Manning, Juanice Evans, Sheila Sullivan, Randy Jackson, Boddie Sullivan, Gov. Ray Mabus, Michael Brown, Freddie Freeman, and many, many more than I can count.
And here are just a few of the places and things: Louisville High School, The Grand Canyon, the Meridian Community College women’s basketball program, Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Junction, Weir, WLSM Radio, more newspapers than you will ever be able to remember, University of California Santa Cruz, Niagara Falls, Carolina Panthers, Lithia Springs, Mississippi Valley State, East Webster, Omaha, Oklahoma City, M.M. Roberts Stadium, Wood Junior College, Choctaw County High School, The Strand Theater, Rupp Arena, Whynot Speedway, Gulf State Park, youth league baseball, Fulton County Stadium, Downtown Lizelia, Golden Gate Bridge, my grandparents’ house, New Orleans Saints, Nanih Waiya, Daytona Motor Speedway, lighthouses you didn’t even know had names, Key West, Daleville Baptist Church, Bouncer, trampolines, Ober Gatlinburg, Pontotoc Street, Winston Academy, Ma-Zel’s Fabrics, Hight Assembly of God, The Council House Restaurant, Louisville Christmas Parade, University of Nebraska, Choctaw Lake, Fenway Park, Christmas, The Meridian Brakemen, Grace Christian School, Great Commission Assembly of God, Lake Placid, Augusta National, the Mississippi Delta, Scaggs Field, Vicksburg, Eupora, Kemper County Courthouse, Weir, The Maroon Bowl, The Gambia, Natchez, Lake Tiak-O’Khata, Noxapater, Neshoba Central and Newton County softball, the Temple Theatre, French Camp Academy, Poplar Flat Road, University of Arkansas-Monticello, Alaska, Hampton Store, NAS Meridian, The Pretty Place, Beulah Hubbard High School, and more other places and things than this column has room to print.
We are about to go on a once-in-a-lifetime journey and you are invited. We will laugh, and cry, and most assuredly scratch our heads at times.
One thing is for sure, I couldn’t do it without you. And, I wouldn’t want to.
Austin Bishop, AKA The Old Sports Dude, has been covering high school, college, amateur and professional sports since 1975. He will be retiring from the journalism business at the conclusion of 2021. His was named sports editor of the Winston County Journal in the fall of 1975 while he was a senior at Louisville High School. His work has appeared in most dailies and many weeklies in Mississippi. He is currently pastor of Great Commission Assembly of God in Philadelphia, Miss. He may be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.