Sports Scribe, Eddie Davidson Remembered

Known for "Just One More Paragraph"

  • Tuesday, March 6, 2012
  • B.B. Branton

“We in wrestling owe a special debt of gratitude to Eddie Davidson for opening the door of publicity for our programs and activities.”

--  Dr. John Farr, member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and president of the Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame

Longtime Chattanooga Times sports writer Eddie Davidson was well known for his years of golf and wrestling coverage that led to three hall of fame inductions.

He was also famous for his …“just one more paragraph …” appeal while most nights writing on, or past, deadline.

“The frantic call would come from the copy desk for Eddie's story and his “just one more 'graph” would turn into eight or 10 paragraphs – or more – as the clock was ticking,” said former Chattanooga Times sports editor and longtime friend Buck Johnson with a laugh. “A few of us spent many a night scrambling to cut and edit and spell check while running Eddie’s story to the copy desk.”

Davidson passed away a week ago Sunday at the age of 82 after a battle with diabetes and two years on dialysis and was remembered Tuesday at a memorial service at Grace Episcopal Church in Brainerd.

“But seriously, Eddie kept alive a sport (wrestling) that, early on, did not get much attention. But because of his diligent coverage wrestling now has excellent popularity statewide,” Johnson stated.

“I promise you, the sound of Eddie typing away on his typewriter late at night did not go unnoticed.”

Former Red Bank and Chattanooga Central wrestling coach Dr. John Farr echoed Johnson’s view of Davidson’s passion for the sport.

“Eddie came along at a time when publicity was given to the "big three"' -- baseball, basketball and football.

“But in wrestling he found a niche where he could succeed in his craft and make a valuable contribution. It was through his interest and coverage that those of us coaching in the early days were able to develop a following for our teams.

 “He was truly a great friend of the sport of wrestling. He wrote many columns and features of local activities and he was a special friend of our coaches.”

Davidson’s sports stories and hall of fame career covered the gamut.

From walking the fairways at Augusta National covering Palmer, Player and Nicklaus to sitting in the cracker box of a gym at Red Bank Junior High School (March 1961) to give the first state champion wrestlers their just due.

Whether banging out his stories on – or past! – deadline on manual then electric typewriters and finally computers in the 1990s, Davidson was an ever-present symbol of a “scribe” performing his craft with diligence, hard work and fairness.

His four-decade career (1954-1994) spanned the era of “cagers, scribes and ducets” to “Tiger-Slam”, slam dunk and Astro Turf.  From polaroids, blackboards and philco transistor radios to everything digital.

“Believe it or not, dad loved all the new electronic gadgets – flat screen tv, cell phone, wireless this and that – and he even wanted the most current ipad the last couple of months,” said his daughter Cindy Davidson.

And while sports writing was a passion born during his days as a student at the University of Georgia in the early 1950s, his spiritual faith was of a higher calling.

“Let me assure you that Christ was very real to Eddie especially his last two years and on his death bed,” said The Rev. Susan J. Butler.

The Norfolk, Va. native and Korean War veteran was part of a forgotten generation of scribes who knew they had a seat reserved in the press box or on “press row”  and everyone else  – p.a. announcer, scorekeeper, clock operator, radio broadcast teams  – were invited guests. That’s why it’s called a press box.

“Eddie was devoted to what we achieved at The Chattanooga Times, and that was to provide Chattanooga-area readers with the best sports section in town,” said fellow Times sports writer Larry Fleming.

“His coverage of high school and college wrestling was unparalleled in this market and he was, without question, the authoritative source for wrestling information throughout his newspaper career.”

He was the only sports writer in the state to cover the first 34 state wrestling tournaments, 1961 until his retirement in 1994.

“Back in the 1960s, we Mid-State coaches were always amazed at the breadth and depth of the coverage that Eddie gave to wrestling events, especially the state tournament,” said national wrestling hall of fame coach G.P. West. “For us, he set a standard for what a sports reporter could do for our sport.  We will miss his presence.”

“Eddie was a major part of covering wrestling as a writer in some of the greatest times in the sport in Tennessee,” stated former TSSAA executive director and national wrestling hall of fame member Ronnie Carter. “He was a professional in every sense of the word with athletes, coaches and administrators – a real pleasure to work with and a great friend to all of us.”

From Tee to Green: While he covered the guys on the mat, he also wrote myriad of stories on local golf greats, from Oehmig, Gilbert and Malarkey to Probasco, Day, Street and Grant.

In 1961, he was there when Gibby Gilbert Sr. won the college state golf championship for the Chattanooga Mocs and when prep star Mike Malarkey captured a state record first-of-three straight state links titles for City High School.

In the mid-1970s he followed teenager Charlotte Grant’s quest to win the inaugural girls state golf title for GPS.

“I am a better man for having known Eddie Davidson,” said former Chattanooga Free Press sports editor Sam Woolwine who will be inducted into the Tennessee Sports Writers Association hall of fame July 12 at Cumberland University.

“I played football and baseball growing up in West Virginia so when E.T. Bales at the Free Press assigned me to golf I was definitely a fish out of water.

“Eddie never had a cross word to say about anyone and he helped me immensely over the years with the intricate details of the game of golf as we worked for competing papers covering golf which made us better writers, but stayed friends.”

He was the first to create the term “play-by-play” for wrestling as he often times gave detailed descriptions of championship finals matches, period by period, move-by-move.

Davidson looked for the story not yet told and showed interest in the athlete who worked hard but not always a champion.

“Eddie was a really good sports writer, a hard worker and a gentleman,” said former Chattanooga Times sports writer Stan Crawley. “He was an expert on wrestling and golf, and well versed in all aspects of reporting. He was a fine man and a good friend.''

How appropriate, that one of his first assignments with The Times in the fall of 1954 was covering the Rossville Bulldogs on their way to the school’s first football state title, while his last wresting assignment in the winter of 1994 was writing about  the state champion Cleveland Blue Raiders who won it as a team without any individual champions.

Ready To Go

“The doctors told me that even though his health wasn’t the greatest at the end, his substantive numbers about being at peace with himself and his life were near the top of the charts,” stated Cindy. “That’s very gratifying for me and my family.”

“I am sure when Eddie got to heaven last week there was former Times sports editor George Short asking why it took him so long to get there,” said Johnson.

“Davidson probably declared, ‘I was on deadline, but wanted to write just one more paragraph before I said good bye.’”

Coaches Quotes


Eddie was a great supporter of both college and high school wrestling. He was very faithful to us and helped promote our sport.

Additionally, he was good at editing comments from young coaches (who shall remain nameless) and making those comments less irritating to others.
We have lost an ambassador for wrestling, and we will never forget the "half nelson and body press" pinning combination descriptions!”


 -- Mike Parker, former East Ridge wrestling coach

“Eddie was the pioneer for wrestling journalism in Chattanooga. He sometimes incorporated WWF terminology into the article, but at least he was there. He loved the sport, and I hope some wrestling award can be given in his honor.”


-- Gordon Connell, McCallie School head coach, emeritus

My heart breaks with the news of Eddie's death.  He was a credit to the sport and the Chattanooga kids. What I miss is the way Eddie always competed with the Free Press and the wonderful articles that came from both sides due to them always trying to out-do each other.”

-- Steve Henry, Soddy Daisy wrestling coach

 contact B.B, Branton at william.branton@comcast.net

Sports
Lady Vols' Hoops To Compete In West Palm Beach Classic
  • 7/20/2024

The University of Tennessee women's basketball team is set to travel to Florida just prior to the school's winter break, as it will compete in the 2024 West Palm Beach Classic on Dec. 20 and ... more

SoCon, ASUN Announce Men's Basketball Scheduling Alliance
  • 7/20/2024

The Southern Conference and Athletic Sun Conference announced a two-year scheduling alliance for men’s basketball on Wednesday. Each SoCon team will play two games against ASUN opponents through ... more

Pat Wilson Is Medalist At Brainerd Ladies Day
  • 7/20/2024

Pat Wilson shot an 88 to take the Medalist honors at the Brainerd Ladies Day tournament on Thursday. Kathryn Geddie and Emma Brown tied for first with a score of 30.5, while Kathy Spears and ... more