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AJC’s Furman Bisher among Baseball Hall of Fame finalists

The late legendary Atlanta Journal-Constitution sports columnist Furman Bisher was announced Tuesday as one of three finalists for the J.G. Taylor Spink award to be recognized in the “Scribes & Mikemen” exhibit in the Library of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The nominees, who include essayist Roger Angell and former Los Angeles Herald Examiner columnist Melvin Durslag, were announced at a meeting of the Baseball Writers Association of America in New York prior to Tuesday’s All-Star game.

The winner will be selected by Hall of Fame voters and announced at baseball’s winter meetings in December. The winner will be included in the permanent exhibit at the Hall of Fame in July of 2014.

That means Bisher, fittingly, would have the chance to join Braves 300-game winners Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, former manager Bobby Cox and possibly former general manager John Schuerholz, all of whom become eligible for next year’s Hall of Fame class. Maddux and Glavine will be on the ballot for the first time and both Cox and Schuerholz could be selected by the Veterans Committee.

Bisher was instrumental in bringing the Braves franchise to Atlanta.

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Former AJC executive editor Jim Minter wrote of Bisher: “For more than a decade Atlanta officials and business leaders had pursued a dream of major league status. There was no stadium, nor prospects of a stadium, until the spring of 1963 when Bisher invited Charlie Finley to visit with Mayor Ivan Allen in Atlanta.

“He and Mayor Allen drove Finley around the city. When they arrived at a confluence of three Interstate highways in walking distance of downtown Atlanta, almost under the shadow of the state capitol, Finley told Mayor Allen: ‘Build your stadium here and I will bring my team to Atlanta.’ That night, he gave the mayor specifications for the stadium.”

Bisher wrote more than 15,000 columns in 59 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He wrote the first Hank Aaron biography and conducted the first interview with “Shoeless Joe” Jackson following the Chicago “Black Sox” scandal. Bisher was also one of the last links to baseball great Ty Cobb, and included Ted Williams among his legendary list of interview subjects.

Bisher retired from full-time writing in 2009. He died on March 18, 2012 at the age of 93. He was survived by his wife Lynda and two of his three sons.

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