Sports Legends: Setting The Records Straight
Richard Reynolds is a gridiron historian
At the age of 57 after 19 years as a senior partner of one of Atlanta’s most prestigious law firms, Richard John Reynolds III walked out the front door and never came back.
After practicing law for 33 years he had had enough. He said goodbye to the Troutman Sanders firm to begin a new life of collecting and keeping football scores and records full time, something he had been doing on this own time for many years.
His knowledge of who did what, when and where would rival the master – Daniel Hamilton Magill himself.
For instance who else could remember “Terrible Tommy Grey,” the pride of Hopkinsville, Ky.
Actually the pride of the state of Kentucky, he was faster than War Admiral, Whirlaway and Man O’ War.
“Terrible Tommy Grey” was coming to Atlanta to rout the undefeated Atlanta Boys’ High School football team. The year was 1941 and the game drew a full house at Ponce de Leon Park, home of the Atlanta Crackers during baseball season and local high school football teams in the fall.
This was to be the game of the century, unbeaten Atlanta Boys’ High School against undefeated Hopkinsville. It was to be the match of the century between prep-All-America Grey and triple threat Boys’ High star Clint Castleberry.
Grey came to midfield and bowed to the crowd before the start of the game while 17,000 fans and both teams stood at attention as the public address announcer loudly introduced “Terrible Tommy Grey.”
To say that Grey did not live up to advance billing would be a masterpiece of understatement.
As the late Charlie Roberts, the old Atlanta Constitution prep sports editor wrote the next day, “Terrible Tommy Grey lived up to his nickname – he was “TERRIBLE!” And so was Hopkinsville’s football team. It was a rout, but Boys’ High did the routing, not Hopkinsville.
The match between the two leading players was a mismatch, as Castleberry ran wild to the outside and inside. He was brilliant on the jump pass and Statue of Liberty play. It was a preview of his one and only year at Georgia Tech where he made the All-America team.
Reynolds kept records of this game and hundreds of others from Rossville to Camilla.
Reynolds is a native Atlantan, born in 1934 in the old St. Joseph’s Hospital. Like his father did before him, Reynolds graduated from Marist (1952). He is “Mr. Marist,” the official Marist historian.
While in school he served as battalion commander of the ROTC, sang in the glee club and played on the basketball team. He was the inaugural member of the Blue and Gold Honor Society. He is a recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award.
He is a member of the Atlanta Historical Society, the DeKalb Historical Society and the National Railway Historical Society and a founding Trustee of Zoo Atlanta. More than 100 of his articles have ap-peared in publications in Belgium, Finland, England, Germany and the Nether-lands.
Although Reynolds is a staunch Georgia Tech fan, he received his undergraduate and law degrees from Emory University.
“I practiced law for 33 years,” Reynolds says. “During most of those years, I was a lawyer for a 600-member law firm in the daytime and a researcher of football scores at night.”
Reynolds collected records from hometown newspapers and at the Atlanta and Decatur public libraries.
“I read story after story on Notre Dame’s Four Horsemen during Coach Knute Rockne’s era as well as everything I could find on the legendary George Gipp, Red Grange and Indian Joe Guyon.”
Richard Reynolds, who is also a train buff, remembers with sadness that the old Southerner, in 1942, carried the undefeated Georgia Tech football team to Athens. Tech was almost certainly headed to the Rose Bowl. But the once-beaten Bulldogs soundly whipped Tech, 34-0, on the arms and legs of Charley Trippi and Fireball Frankie Sinkwich. It was Georgia who went to the Rose Bowl.
Fast-forward to the 1950s, and Reynolds can tell you about near back-to-back Marist grads Ken Adamson and Jim Carroll who became near back-to-back All-Americans at Notre Dame. He has a score of stories.
Reynolds and his wife Delia have four children, Richard IV, Michael, Timothy and Marianna Reynolds Patterson.