Bravo: A standing ovation for Tim Tucker. We all will miss him

Credit: Jcrawford@ajc.com

Credit: Jcrawford@ajc.com

I thought I found a typo in a Tim Tucker story once.

Turns out I was the one mistaken.

That might be a slight exaggeration, but I haven’t worked with another writer that turned in stories that needed nearly no editing in my 35 years in journalism. These words have been uttered many times during a hectic night on the sports desk: “It’s Tucker, just post the story now. We can edit that one later.”

That’s just one of the many superlatives I share as Tim retires this week after a career that spanned 50 years, including nearly 40 at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Yes, Tim started working in sports journalism as a teenager.

I will miss him. We will miss him on the sports team. Readers of the AJC will miss him. As we shed a tear for our loss, you can’t have anything but good thoughts and best wishes for someone who so richly deserves to call it a distinguished career and enjoy life with his family. I have this vision of Tim relaxing in a reclining chair while the sports world goes buzzing on all around him. There are no more stories to chase. No more deadlines to make. No more reporting to get to the bottom of an important story. No more advice and counsel to give this sports editor.

I didn’t want Tim to ride off into the sunset without calling attention to all he has done for readers of the AJC through the years. It’s a near impossible task. He started as the Braves beat reporter and also has covered the University of Georgia and, most recently, sports business. He also was the sports editor during his tenure here.

In addition to being one of the nicest people I’ve worked with – I mean seriously nice and genuine – Tim has been a tireless worker. He once knocked on Bob Horner’s door to get an injury update when the Braves third baseman was out of the lineup. He was there the night a lost Pascual Perez did laps around 285. He had a direct line to Ted Turner who offered no shortage of stories. He sweated through the details as Atlanta had a run of stadium construction, including building Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Truist Park and renovating State Farm Arena. That included the implosion of the Georgia Dome – which took two tries to come all the way down. He covered the Braves move into two different stadiums when you add Turner Field. He covered Olympics, Super Bowls and World Series.

I think every pro franchise was sold at least once during his time at the AJC. He covered the messy and lengthy legal issues within the Atlanta Spirit. That included the infamous photo of then-Hawks general manager Billy Knight refusing to shake the hand of part-owner Steve Belkin. That’s Tim in the background of the Boston courtroom. Tim helped me immensely as the Thrashers beat reporter through the sale of the team. He actually wrote the story when the move was officially announced as I was on vacation in Italy. He helped me immensely as the Hawks beat reporter through the scandal that led to the sale of the team. He was a key contributor when the Braves lost the MLB All-Star game after the passage of a new voting law.

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

The AJC has been the media outlet in Atlanta out in front on the reporting of the big events that come – and in some cases go – in the city. Super Bowls. Final Fours. World Cups. All-Star games. Tim was the one to report those stories first and accurately.

Tim was a stalwart when it came to projects. He was central in our reports on the Braves’ use of their team name and other Native American imagery. He also worked on projects on the spending on football facilities at Georgia, our name, image and likeness work and sports gambling in Georgia. Just give Tim the main story, and it will be perfect.

Tim was one of the best baseball writers in the country. That’s not hyperbole. As a youngster in his 20s, he covered every Braves game, home and away, without missing a single contest. He made the AJC’s outstanding coverage of the many Braves postseason runs, including last season’s campaign all the way to the World Series title, so much better.

It’s also worth mentioning the incredible grasp Tim had on what resonated with readers. It wasn’t all about the important stories. Tim wrote about the $151 hamburger at Truist Park that folks still find and read.

We, at the AJC, always were smarter and more informed after talking to Tim. He has a wealth of information, experience and memories readily at hand.

I wrote this when Steve Hummer retired earlier this year, but it seems an anti-climactic way for Tim to leave simply by filing his last few stories and making updates to some of the advance obituaries he wrote through the years. (Of course, that’s Tim, not wanting to leave something incomplete that we might need at a later date.) There should be more fanfare.

The list of Tim’s accomplishments and contributions go on and on. There is a tremendous amount of work to reflect upon from his 40 years at the AJC. I am honored to have had a front-row seat for the past 20 years, especially the past four. On a personal note, Tim has made me look much smarter than I am time and time again for the stories he alone had the idea for, reported and wrote that added so much to our sports section.

There is a tradition in our newsroom to give a standing ovation when someone leaves the office for the final time. That has been difficult in recent years as we have all worked remotely more and more. Sports reporters have mostly worked remotely since the invention of laptop computers. So, as he symbolically walks out the door one last time, we give the great Tim Tucker a well-deserved standing ovation. Bravo.

-Chris Vivlamore is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution sports editor.

Credit: File 2022

Credit: File 2022