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He missed the bus but eventually got to Atlanta

I was following a thread on a message board recently in which the participants were discussing the question, “What makes a city a major city?” My first thought was that the term “major city” is one of those eye-of-the-beholder descriptions, a phrase that doesn’t really have a precise definition. Something akin to Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart’s famous “I know it when I see it” description of obscenity.

But as I read through the responses to the ‘major city’ question, there did seem to be general agreement on what qualities a city needed to possess in order to be described as major. A large population, an international airport, a significant research university, corporate headquarters, sky scrapers and multiple interstate highways all made most of the lists. But, without question, the single requisite that appeared more than any other was the presence of a professional sports team and, preferably, multiple professional sports teams.

Apparently, in the eyes of many Americans, if you want to be a big league city you’ve got to have a big league team. And by that criteria, Atlanta is, most definitely, a ‘major city.’

In their book Insiders Guide to Atlanta, John and Bonnie McKay and William Schemmel point out that, “Not many cities can claim to have hosted an Olympics, five World Series, and two Super Bowls but Atlanta has done it all since 1991.” And, with the pending arrival of the Major League Soccer expansion team Atlanta United, no matter what your sport, you can pretty much find it here in this major city.

All that is a roundabout way of saying that this week we’ve finally gotten around to producing a story about one aspect of Atlanta’s rich sports history. It is a story that involves the Atlanta Hawks, or more precisely, the St. Louis Hawks as they made the transition to their new hometown of Atlanta…a transition that went fairly well for all but one player. This week’s Stories of Atlanta is the story of a player who missed the bus.

Lance Russell

Lance Russell is an Atlanta-based filmmaker and media communicator who, for over three decades, has been entrusted by clients to tell their stories. A seasoned producer with an innate ability to cut to the heart of the matter, Lance’s instincts are tailor-made for today’s “media bite” culture. Brief, poignant and always entertaining, Lance’s current passion is bringing Atlanta’s colorful and inspiring past to life with his “rest of the story” style video series, Stories of Atlanta. “History’s best communicators,” says Lance, “have always been storytellers. It’s in our DNA. ‘Once upon a time’ is how we got to where we are now.”


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  1. Mike Thompson July 27, 2015 3:59 pm

    I’m flattered and really don’t care, but that team picture is from my collection and my website…stlsportshistory.com….the lines running through the face of Chico Vaughan were rips that resulted in the pic being on the bottom of my files for such a long time….glad you could use it tho…like I said, flattering…BTW, if any of your projects ever need a voiceover guy who knows sports, give me a call…or e-mail mikeallenthompson@yahoo.com……………..Report

  2. sportsgm October 25, 2016 3:04 pm

    Atlanta took a hit as a major city when it lost the Thrashers. The truly major cities have the full plethora of sports–New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and one of our chief rivals Dallas. All have baseball, football, basketball, hockey and the MLS (although that remains on the fringe and is not a characteristic of a major city–places such as Portland have MLS and very little else). I am not a hockey fan, but if Atlanta wants to m ove up a notch in its major city status, it should work hard for the retunr of hockey.Report


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