Bulldogs of the Fourth Estate: Jim Minter

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Bulldogs of the Fourth Estate: Jim Minter

Bulldawg Illustrated continues its new series, featuring long-time UGA personalities of the Fourth Estate. There are many who are published authors along with network television superstars. Our fourth installment spotlights Jim Minter, who is an under appreciated marvel with the pen that has the distinction of training some of the best writers in our state.

One of the best writer-editor’s in this state has never been adequately recognized for his work, which is a shame. An unadulterated shame.

A nonagenarian living peacefully on a small farm in Fayetteville, Jim Minter is best known for his prose on the sports beat, but if you ever read his weekly down-home column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution a few years back, you would have found it both informative and delightfully entertaining.





    The column I remember best was one about his inadvertently leaving a side door open to his house, which allowed for an unannounced and unwelcomed entry into his home by some goats. His essay on what happened, especially when these notorious plunderers found their way into the dressing room of his wife Anne, was downright hilarious. It would have turned the heads of Bob Hope’s writers.

    The University of Georgia hosts and administrates “The Georgia Writers Hall of Fame,” and the absence of Jim’s name on the rolls is, in my view, a glaring omission. Some of that has to do with the fact that Jim mostly wrote sports, but when he found an angle such as a birddog which could point fish, not even Hemmingway could have been more descriptive.

As an editor, Jim was tough when it was necessary, and he was not without the resolve and motivation to put the uppity in their place—be it a politician, a state contractor, a football coach or a bootlegger. However, he preferred writing stories about birddogs, cane pole fishermen and those who lived off their acreage, those who would do for others and those who had affection for the church in the valley by the wildwood. Jim has always been a John Deere and a Red Man type man.





    Another issue with Jim being a full-time writer was the fact that he also spent time with the administrative side of the newspaper business. He became the Executive Sports Editor of the AJC sports department which meant that he ran the sports section. His superiors took note of his expertise and leadership. He would become managing editor of the Atlanta Constitution and soon thereafter Executive Editor of the AJC.

    When he wasn’t writing stimulating columns and sidebars, with a poignant flair in his down-home style, he was putting out good-looking sports sections with crisp and snappy headlines.

He was forever keeping an eye out for talent. It was Minter who kick started Lewis Grizzard’s career and became the popular columnist’s biggest promoter and “damn good friend.” It you know anything about the trials and tribulations of Grizzard’s life, then you could appreciate just what a “damn good friend,” Jim was to Lewis.

    Minter also hired noted political writer Howell Raines, Steve Oney, who authored an award-winning book on the murder of Mary Phagan, “The Dead Shall Also Rise.” Then there was Lee Walburn who became editor of Atlanta Magazine which was a pace setter in Chamber of Commerce publications, and Terry Kay, who was such a prolific author that he could deliver a title monthly for the Book of the Month Club.

    While Jim didn’t have time to pursue an angle that might have brought him a Pulitzer Prize, he was certainly capable. He didn’t write novels, but he could have. He didn’t team up with legendary superstar sports figures, but, God knows, he had bushels of contacts and relationships that could have brought insightful and illuminating co-authored treatises—if he had.

    Jim, perhaps, has a split personality. There is the dedicated, seasoned and insightful writer and then there is the sentimentalist. He loves riding his John Deere tractor with a bush hog harrow in tow. He enjoys country music and following a bird dog is almost equal to being waved through the Pearly Gates.

    I have fished with him and have quail hunted with him. I have drunk Irish whisky with him while reminiscing about Georgia football, the political characters we have known and the unmatched joy in living in this state and exploring every one of its 159 counties and meeting some of the most genuine and respected natives of the Empire State of the South.

    Jim is a raconteur who has written and trained some of the best writers in our state. Only a bad back has slowed him down in recent years, but he still rides his tractor and reads a book a week. He has told stories as well as any columnist in this state’s history. He just didn’t make a career of it.

    The Georgia Writer’s Hall of Fame has inducted Celestine Sibley, a fine writer so there is a precedent for the inducting newspaper writers. I hold the view that of the many writers thus far inducted, Jim’s credentials are as legitimate as anyone whose name is on the roll of inductees. Sadly, he is a man whose talent has been overlooked. However, it is not too late for the Hall to make amends.





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