Atlanta trip brings back memories

The first time I was ever in Atlanta – other than just passing through – was in 1975 when I was there for the newspaper covering West Virginia in the Peach Bowl in Bobby Bowden’s final game as the Mountaineers’ head coach

I’ve been to Atlanta since, but the last time was just three weeks ago with my grandson Brice Fought. On our way to Turner Field on the Sunday before the All-Star break to see the Reds-Braves game, we spotted the CNN logo at the top of a building downtown

We had plenty of time before the game began and had talked about taking a tour of the CNN world headquarters that are in Atlanta, so we headed in the direction of the CNN sign.

As we got close to the CNN Center, I noticed that right next door was the Omni Hotel. Boy, talk about bringing back memories. I had stayed at the Omni in 1975, when it was a brand-new complex featuring the Omni International Hotel and the Omni Coliseum, where the NBA Hawks played basketball.

Now though what used to be the Omni International building is the CNN Center. The Omni Coliseum, where I took in a Hawks’ game while in town in for WVU’s New Year’s Eve afternoon game versus North Carolina State, was torn down in 1997 and Phillips Arena was constructed in its place in 1999. And the hotel is now the Omni Hotel at CNN Center.

What bugged me was that I couldn’t remember the International part of the Omni hotel name. But it was sort of a lavish, gaudy place that was booked for me at the last minute.

Anyway though, when Brice and I walked into the grand atrium of the CNN Center, I knew immediately that this was the same place I had stayed at all those years ago, because the interior of the building was almost exactly the way I remembered it, except for all the CNN banners

We decided to pass on the tour – they had a small studio you saw on the way in – and after we shopped a bit, we were off to the baseball game, which the Reds won.

And by the way, so did WVU in 1975 by a 13-10 score over Lou Holtz’s Wolfpack. That trip back then gave me a chance as well to catch up on things with Holtz, a West Virginia native. I was his manager at Ohio State in the national-championship 1968 season, when he coached the Buckeye defensive backs, including the infamous and now-deceased Jack Tatum, before moving on to William and Mary as head coach and then to NC State.

* It was a shame not to have either or both Parkersburg Post 15 and St. Marys Post 79 make it into the West Virginia state American Legion baseball tournament this week in Morgantown.

Both teams had excellent seasons – St. Marys its best yet in five years under head coach Wirt Cook and Parkersburg won 23 games, nine more than it lost.

So, both should be back in contention next year for state berths when the tournament may be played in Parkersburg, which will make a bid to host the six-team playoff.

* I was glad to see former Ohio State and Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cris Carter elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which he will be inducted into Saturday evening in Canton.

To me, Carter, both at OSU and in the NFL, made some of the most acrobatic – sometimes even one-handed – catches I’ve ever seen as he would go sky-high to grab any aerial within his reach, often contorting his body in almost-unimaginable ways to get that done.

Contact Steve Hemmelgarn at