This world has lost a unique individual.
On Thursday morning, Marvin “Stump” Martin left this earthly pale. Godspeed, my friend.
I remember when I was first introduced to Stump at the old News-Free Press, where he and I worked. This guy with a loud, booming voice and flat-top haircut was cutting through the morgue – the place where old newspaper clippings were filed for future reference. We shook hands and he made some outrageous pronouncement about something or other.
I thought to myself then, this guy is a little different. I had no idea.
I went to work for Roy Exum several months later and Stump and I would rub elbows in the Sports Department. When he typed on a computer keyboard it was a physically violent act. One or two fat fingers at a time would hammer that piece of plastic and he would literally “mash out” a lede to whatever event he had covered. Most of the time he had a ball cap on while he was doing it and carrying on a conversation on the phone.
“You know how that bunch is,” Stump would say into the receiver. That was always one of my favorite phrases that he endlessly used.
The man knew everybody. If he didn’t, he said he did.
Exum loved Stump. He got the plumb assignments. Georgia football. Braves baseball. The Super Bowl, for goodness sake. He was always off to some premier sporting event, and he would always bring back some premium swag. I remember him giving me a humdinger of a baseball cap. Blue and white … “Jugs” on the crown, you know the company that manufactures baseball pitching machines and radar guns for measuring the velocity of fastballs.
I will admit, I was envious of Stump. The man did whatever he wanted to in the Sports Department. But that was OK, because when he came back in from some big league assignment he always shared the stories, the “inside baseball” stuff that sportwriters are witness to. Some were a little risque and I will keep the confidence that I never really promised.
I caught small glimpses of his Stump on Sports TV show, with his lovely wife Deb at his side. Not my thing. I do recall telling myself, though, “that’s vintage Stump.” Folksy, down-to-earth, yet full of information that made me scratch my head.
I got to know Stump even more after the Times and the Free Press merged and we were reassigned to cover “real news.” The fog shrouded crash on Interstate 75 where dozens of cars crashed and people were killed. It was chaos. National media in attendance. Me and Stump down there in the middle of it. We scrambled all over North Georgia through that morning. Stump’s connections were unbeatable. He had on-the-record comments from every level of law enforcement … from the constable to the National Transportation Safety Board.
“You know how that bunch is,” he would inevitably say.
The Times Free Press received an award from the Associated Press that year for the coverage of “Breaking News.” Stump loved it.
In 2002, Stump got wind that something was happening in little Noble, Georgia. It wasn’t good. Bodies started turning up around the Tri-State Crematorium. Stump’s sources – did I tell you that the man knew everybody – became invaluable as that godawful incident centered around the Marsh family turned into one of the biggest stories of the first decade of the 21st Century.
Nothing happened anywhere in North Georgia without Stump either knowing about it, or better yet, having the inside track on it. He would tell me things that were unbelievable, literally. I’d tell him that he was full of sh.. . He would just grin. At some later date, that information would bubble up and Stump would have the last word.
I really didn’t know much about Stump’s coaching of youth sports. He was always headed somewhere to coach a team that Misty Dawn was on, or later, her son Austin. I’m sure I will learn much more in coming days about the man’s generosity in regard to young athletes.
Then there was the second act, or third maybe of Stump Martin’s life. East Ridge hired him as parks and recreation director in 2011 or so. He was the man at Camp Jordan Park. It was his domain. He was so proud of all the events that were happening down there. Everything from frisbee golf to events with dogs catching frisbees. Softball, baseball, SOCCER … indoor and outdoor. Even canoe launches.
Stump was large and in charge.
I remember about a year after he took the parks and rec job we had a conversation outside of City Hall. On a regular basis, he had gone before the City Council asking for more money for bigger and better facilities; for bigger and better events. Several council members were always critical of Stump coming and asking for more … bigger … better.
I told him, “Stump, if I were you, I’d just keep my head down, run the park and stop asking the city for anything. Just run the park.”
Stump rejected my advice. He wanted Camp Jordan Park to be the biggest, baddest recreation facility in the Southeast. End of discussion.
Several months ago, Stump got sick and went into the hospital. His heart was giving him a fit. One of my many faults is I don’t do hospitals. Couldn’t make myself go and visit with him.
Stump came home, briefly, a week or so ago. He’s a neighbor. I can go in my backyard and hit a driver and 5-iron to his front door. I walked up to see him and Deb.
The man was flat on his back and I was shocked as his weak voice told me, “come on in Dick.” He gave me a medical update. Then he told me that when he left the hospital he got Deb to drive him down to Camp Jordan Park.
“I wanted to check it out,” he said. “We got the biggest soccer tournament ever down there coming up this weekend. I wanted to make sure everything was ready,”
We talked a little politics and more about the park. Stump rallied and got up out of his sickbed and Deb walked him into the living room. He sat on the couch, and me, him and Austin watched a replay of the Braves game, a drubbing of the Phillies.
That’s how I will always remember Stump … sitting on his couch, his grandson by his side … happily watching baseball.
Godspeed, my friend. You will be missed.