Willie Bowman should be in the Chattahoochee Valley Sports Hall of Fame.
No doubt about it.
Willie never hit a home run, never struck out a batter, never stole a base, but he was as much a part of the local minor league baseball scene as the guys on their way up to the big leagues or guys on their way to a job selling insurance.
He died last week at 77. It took a few days for word to get out that Willie had passed away. That's what happens when baseball disappears; you forget about those with whom you once shared the summer nights.
Willie sold peanuts, programs and whatever the hell they asked to him to hawk those who braved the Georgia sauna to watch pro ball in Golden Park. He also worked the Civic Center when hockey took hold in the unlikeliest of places.
He did it with a style that was unique. Because of his signature call, he was known to those who frequented Golden Park as the "Goody, goody peanut man."
I bought a lot of peanuts from Willie over the years.
I also know a little about the Chattahoochee Valley Sports Hall of Fame. I was there the day it was founded -- and there were only three of us in the room: Myself, former RedStixx and Cottonmouths owner Charlie Morrow and then-RedStixx general manager John Dittrich.
Ledger-Enquirer Publisher Billy Watson gave me $1,500 of the paper's money to establish a wall in honor of the baseball players who passed through Columbus. It was going to be in the new RedStixx room on the second floor of a building that was being constructed down the first-base line inside Golden Park.
Giving away money is easy. But Morrow, who always was looking to do something a little extra, was the first to suggest a sports hall of fame for Columbus. I thought he was crazy.
How are you going to do that with $1,500?
The idea took hold from there as Morrow formed a committee and used his push and that of the newspaper to establish the local hall. I got out of it not long after the first class was inducted. Billy Watson was dead, and my boss at the time didn't think the newspaper should be involved.
On his way to a solid major-league career, Columbus Councilor Glenn Davis hit home runs in Golden Park before he hit them in the Astrodome. Davis, a Chattahoochee Valley Hall of Famer, won't say if Willie should be in or not.
"But I will say this, he was a legend," Davis said. "You can't think of Golden Park without thinking of him."
Davis and other ballplayers talked to Willie about life.
"The man was full of common sense," Davis said. "You would be in a slump or something, and you could sit down with him and he would tell you, 'This isn't the end of the world. You are going to be OK.'"
There is a spot in the local Hall of Fame for contributors.
I would argue few contributed as much as Willie.
Chuck Williams, senior editor for content, email@example.com.