The five newest inductees of the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame were honored at the Buckhead Theatre Friday evening. While all of those enshrined last night were deserving, my friends and I were on hand to watch the late Craig Sager get inducted.
As I have previously written, Sager was the driving force behind Jocks and Jills in Atlanta. Before there were 100s of Taco Macs, Hudson Grille’s, STATS and Dantanas on every corner, there was one real sports bar in Atlanta. Sager opened the bar with local Atlanta Hawks stars like Doc Rivers, Randy Whitman and Scott Hastings on 10th Street in the heart of Midtown Atlanta. Eventually stores opened in the CNN Center, Brookhaven and the outreaches of suburban Atlanta. I feel like I worked a shift at everyone of them.
It created a weird family that is still very much alive today, nearly a decade after all but one of the stores closed their doors for good. It was often brought together by a Christmas party hosted at one of the locations, or birthdays, or weddings, or a massive trip to the Braves game on one of the legendary Jocks and Jills/ Frankies Braves Bus Trips. And it was largely in thanks to Sager.
That’s how we remember him. His funny suits donned the walls of our restaurants, and sure, we saw him on every big screen TV that was up in the bar when he was on the sidelines. But he was always in the bar as well, grabbing a Bud Light in a tumbler and chatting it up with anyone who would listen.
Flash forward seven years and now I work with Turner, the company Craig was part of for so many years. You really get to see how many lives he touched when you are surrounded by so many people from so many different walks of life that get excited or sad by the mention of his name. Even in his speech, Craig Sager, Jr. touched on how his father knew his fellow inductees. Whether it was going to Keith Brooking bobblehead day or running the Peachtree Road Race (which any of us who worked at Jocks Midtown knew that Craig always stopped off for a beer before the finish line at Park Tavern), Sager exemplified Atlanta to its fullest.
I thought I would share some sights and sounds from the festivities. (Thanks to Wendy Cochran for some of the photography and video).
Jessie Tuggle led off the night, introducing fellow Atlanta Falcons linebacker great, Keith Brooking.
Julia Emmons headed the Atlanta Track Club from 1985 to 2006. She ran this little thing called the Peachtree Road Race and made it into the July 4th Weekend event that it has become. If you don’t know the Road Race, you don’t know Atlanta.
Steve Holman is the voice of the Atlanta Hawks. Literally, THE voice as he has done 2,385 consecutive games in a row. He began under the tutelage of legendary Celtics announcer Johnny Most and has seen everything from the Human Highlight Reel to the 1996 Olympics.
Bob Reinhart stole the show. His accolades were ridiculous as he coached high school (Decatur HS), college (Georgia State) and the pro (Atlanta Hawks) basketball in his own city. Now a scout for the Miami Heat, he could easily turn to stand up comedy after having the room in hysterics for most of his speech.
Kacy Sager — who worked with several of us at Jocks and Jills Midtown back in the day — and Craig Sager, Jr. honor their father with a great speech. Both are now following in their father’s footsteps on the basketball beat.
In closing, Bob Reinhart orated a pretty powerful poem. It’s worth the listen: