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Atlanta sports icons featured in airport display

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Maria-Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

While shuffling through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, passengers may pass by two display cases in the airport atrium dedicated to some of the city's most legendary sports figures.

Approximately 50 items are currently showcased in the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame exhibit, according to Larry Winter, president of the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame. The exhibit highlights the accomplishments and careers of the first six inductees, he said.

"Sports help form our cultural identity and we thought it appropriate to share these Atlanta-area sports heroes with the diverse passengers that visit Atlanta on a daily basis," said David Vogt, manager of the Airport Art Program at Hartsfield-Jackson.

Athletes such as Hank Aaron, Bobby Dodd and Bobby Jones were among the first six inducted into the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame in 2005, Winter said.

Winter said a picture of Aaron is one of the items displayed. The picture shows Aaron making his 715th homerun, on April 8, 1974, at the former Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, he said.

That was the homerun that surpassed the homerun record of the legendary Babe Ruth, he added.

The Bobby Dodd National High School Award is another item displayed, said Winter.

The award, named for the former Georgia Tech head football coach, is given to the best high school back and lineman of the year in the nation by The Touchdown Club of Atlanta, Winter said.

Dodd led the Tech football team to 165 wins, 64 losses and eight ties, according to the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Foundation's web site, www.bobbydoddfoundation.com.

Winter said that while some of the sports icons in the hall, such as Dodd, have passed away, they live on through their family members.

"Linda Dodd comes to the [Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame] inductions and talks a little bit about her dad [Bobby Dodd]," said Winter.

A 1959 Sports Illustrated issue, with golfer Bobby Jones gracing the cover, is another item in the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame exhibit, said Winter.

Jones was born in Atlanta on May 17, 1902, according to the Bobby Jones web site, www.bobbyjones.com. He won the U.S. Open at Inwood Country Club in New York, in 1923, which was his first championship win, according to the web site. Jones dominated the sport by winning at least one championship every year, and 13 of 21 major championships, between 1923 and 1930, according to the site.

There are other items, such as cards, jerseys and magazines, that celebrate the other three original inductees, Atlanta Hawk Dominique Wilkins, Braves Manager Bobby Cox, and Tommy Nobis, the first player ever drafted by the Atlanta Falcons.

"The inductees have either been born here, raised here, developed their skills here, or highlighted their skills here," said Winter. "I feel like there are a lot of great sport stories in Atlanta, and it happens that a lot of these great athletes are great people," Winter added.

Vogt, the Airport Art Program manager, said the exhibit has been on a long-term loan, and that the Art Program does not plan to make it a permanent display, though the exhibit may be updated with memorabilia of sports notables that were inducted last year.

"The exhibit is temporary and our long-term plan calls for replacing these cases with larger, built-in cases that will enhance the exhibits we present," Vogt said. "Larger cases will help us attract a broader range of exhibits."