Wayne Minshew, 78: Constitution’s first Braves beat writer

Wayne Minshew, an Atlanta Constitution sportswriter who chronicled the Atlanta Braves’ first seasons following the team’s move from Milwaukee and later became the club’s director of public relations, died Wednesday in Calhoun. He was 78.

Said Bob Hope, a former Braves PR director now with the PR agency Hope-Beckham, said: “Wayne enjoyed covering baseball more than anyone I ever met, and I met a lot of writers.’’

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Calhoun. The Rev. Louis Tonsmeir will officiate with a eulogy from former Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer Lee Walburn. Max Brannon & Sons Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Minshew was already a veteran sportswriter, having worked at the Americus Times and Jacksonville Journal before joining the Constitution in 1965, when he very shortly became the paper’s first Braves beat writer. A strong reporter — Minshew broke the news that Ted Turner was buying the Braves — he was also regarded for fairness in his writing.

He left the paper to join the Braves for the 1976 season and later worked for Hope-Beckham in 1987. He subsequently served on the Atlanta Paralympics Organizing Committee in the mid-1990s and was instrumental in the creation of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, submitting a paper on the subject that was used by architects to design and construct the facility in Macon.

Prior to his journalism career, Minshew was a standout pitcher at the University of Georgia. His 1.02 ERA posted in 1957 is still a single-season record for the Bulldogs, and he was named team captain the next season. He signed a professional contract with the St. Louis Cardinals but lasted only one year, making six starts.

“Wayne was a big Georgia guy and loved to tell the story of him living in the attic of the field house when he was here,” longtime UGA PR director Claude Felton said. “The field house became the alumni house and later was bulldozed and is now where the Rankin Smith Student-Athlete Academic Center is.

“When they bulldozed the building, I went and got a brick and sent it to Wayne as a memento to where he lived in Athens. I am not sure where that brick is now but I am sure it is in a prominent position because he loved to tell that story.’’

Hope said Minshew had an eye for marketing, proving it during Super Bowl XXXIV in January 2000 in Atlanta. Hope-Beckham had taken on MVP.com as a client, a group which included John Elway, Wayne Gretzky and Michael Jordan.

“They didn’t have money to advertise on ABC but Wayne got with the network and arranged for all of them to be interviewed on the field,’’ said Hope. ‘Then he arranged for John Elway to write a daily column leading up to the game for USA Today. It was great exposure.’’

Minshew is survived by son Michael Minshew, of Charlotte, N.C.; daughter Melanie Wilkey, also of Charlotte; brother Buddy Minshew, of Rome; and six grandchildren.

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