Remember a magic moment in Tift County

By Chris Beckham

Where were you on Dec. 10, 1983? That was the night the Tift County Blue Devils won the state football championship, the most well-known athletic achievement in the history of our town.

The Gazette is currently working on a special section commemorating the 1983 season, which will be published during "Football Week" on Wednesday, Aug. 27. If you have a memory of that season that you would like to have included in that section, a great play, a road trip or anything else that sticks out in your mind, please mail it to "Where Were You?", The Tifton Gazette, P.O. Box 708, Tifton, Ga., 31793 or email it to We'd love to have plenty of community participation in this section as it will be a keepsake for many years.

LIST MANIA: America is fascinated by lists and Sports Illustrated has a dandy for sports fans. The magazine is profiling a different state each week as part of its 50th anniversary. Along with the profile is a list of the state's 50 top athletes.

Any list is subjective and if 10 people made up 10 lists, they'd all be different. First on the list was Ty Cobb, a tough one to argue, while Herschel Walker was second and Bobby Jones was third. Hard to argue with any of those. The rest of the top 10 were Fran Tarkenton, Walt (Clyde) Frazier, Gwen Torrence, Wyomia Tius, Johnny Mize, Mel Blount and Roger Kingdom. There's some room for discussion among those. None were from Tifton and the only one from the surrounding area was Fitzgerald's Spec Towns at 32, an Olympic gold medal winner and former world record holder in the 110 hurdles.

The complete list is available on the magazine's web site,

MORE ON KOBE: Local reader and online book-selling entrepreneur Dick Marti responded to a Keeping Score column two weeks ago about Kobe Bryant's tear-filled press conference.

"Chris Beckham writes that 'I hope everyone listened to Lakers' star Kobe Bryant ...'. My hope was that no one listened to it. Who cares about Kobe Bryant? Who ever heard of him before this overblown media circus? The media should get over Kobe Bryant and move onto something slightly less stupid, such as the Vince Dooley for Senator story."

Mr. Marti's point is well-taken, the story has mushroomed into the biggest in sports over the last few weeks. But I don't think it's fair to say no one ever heard of Bryant before these troubles ... he's one of the top five players in the world right now. And if you think it's a media madhouse now, wait until the trial.

PASSING FANCY: South Carolina quarterback Dondrial Pinkins, a product of Mitchell-Baker High, may be a little over-enthusiastic about the Gamecocks' offense this year.

Recently, when asked about the team's plans for the year, he estimated he would be throwing the ball 40-50 times a game. In Lou Holtz's offense? 50 passes? If Pinkins is airing it out that much, that will mean the Gamecocks are deep in the hole, which could mean that someone else will be running the attack instead of him.

STANDING PAT: The Braves didn't pull the trigger on any deal and the let the baseball trading deadline pass without a move. Now, the discussion for the rest of the season will be "Can the Braves will it all with that pitching staff?"

The answer is yes, but it won't be easy. The difference in this team is the strong offense, which was absent in the past. That will offset a shaky bullpen. But in the playoffs, the rotation is pared down to maybe three starters and the Braves' Greg Maddux and Russ Ortiz can match up with anyone. It might also allow a starter (Mike Hampton? Horacio Ramirez? Shane Reynolds?) to move to the bullpen to shore up that staff.

The bigger problem is that while the Braves made no moves, the San Francisco Giants strengthened their club with the addition of Sidney Ponson and they will be the Braves' nemesis. There's still much baseball to be played, but it would surprise me if another team made it to the NLCS.

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