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Macon's "Sports' Hall of Fame Exhibit" offers an animated look at history










Sports fans enjoy the exhibit "Sports...Illustrated: Comics and Cartoons in sports Coverage," Sunday at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in downtown Macon. The exhibition continues through October.
IF YOU GO.....
What: "Sports....Illustrated: Comics and Cartoons in Sports Coverage"

Where: Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, 301 Cherry St. Macon

When: Now through October

Times: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 1-5 p.m. Sunday

Cost: $8 adults; $6 senior citizens, college students, military personnel with ID; $3.50 children 16 and under

MACON - The upstairs at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame offered a cool respite from the outdoors Sunday for Macon lawyer Christopher Smith and his two sons.

What drew them to the hall was an ongoing exhibit, "Sports ... Illustrated: Cartoons and Comics in Sports Coverage." The exhibit continues at the hall through October.

"Hey kids, look! Here's a program for the University of Georgia playing football against Mercer (University)," Smith called out to his boys.

"Gee, Dad, that must be really old because Mercer doesn't play football now," said 8-year-old Alexander.

Smith, a UGA and Mercer law school graduate, laughed and said it was true though he'd like to see Mercer resurrect its football program. The college discontinued its football program during World War II.

The program cover that caught Smith's eye showed a youngster in football uniform and sneakers missing a kickoff and falling backward. It was from Oct. 15, 1930.

"I like the exhibit. I like cartoons and history," said Smith. "I support our halls of fame and museums in the area."

Smith said he feels the hall should advertise itself more and raise its profile.

"I've had some visitors from Denmark and France lately and I've taken them here and to the Music Hall of Fame, Ocmulgee National Park and the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins," he said. "We have lots of resources like this that not too many people know about."

The 34 reproductions of sports program covers span the decades from the 1930s to the 1980s, and feature the works of nationally known illustrators such as Willard Mullin, Lon Keller, Larry Tisdale, Doug Wildey and Jack Davis.

Two covers by Mullin for publications of The Sporting News greet visitors as they enter the second floor: a Baseball Guide from 1962 features caricatures of Babe Ruth and Roger Maris - "The Sultan and the Rajah" - sitting on thrones labeled 60 and 61, for their then-record season home run totals.

The second cover, a World Series guide covering the years 1903-69, features a David-and-Goliath motif, with the sling-bearer yelling, "You big oaf! You stepped on my toe," as four rocks careen off Goliath's head. The New York Mets, after losing the first game of the 1969 series, went on to defeat the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles in four straight wins.

But the focus of the exhibit is, appropriately, football in Georgia, and illustrations cover a variety of topics in a variety of styles.

A Claymation-style cover from the UGA-Kentucky game in 1940 features an athlete lying on a training table with spiked footprints on his back and a befuddled trainer reading a book, "What to do until the doctor comes."

Patriotism was the focus of several World War II-era programs, such as one from Nov. 18, 1944, for the UGA vs. Auburn game in Columbus featuring a quarterback in a heroic pose about to throw the football with a large U.S. flag in the background. Another, from a UGA-Wake Forest game on Sept. 29, 1944, has the Stars and Stripes surrounded by planes, aircraft carriers, tanks and guns as wartime production took the spotlight.

Some lighthearted ones include a Davis cover from the Oct. 18, 1986 UGA-Vanderbilt game which shows UGA alumnus Lewis Grizzard riding the back of a giant bulldog, and a UGA-Georgia Tech program from Dec. 2, 1961, which shows a bulldog in an escape-proof brick doghouse about to be brained by a brick from a determined-looking yellow jacket.

Fashions of the times sometimes take center stage, and even the programs from the various bowl games have a lot to offer as far as historical context.


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