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Legion Field has lost its luster

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY–I am well aware that the powers-that-be at this newspaper expect me to write a political column for them each week but I can't resist returning to my roots. My first job with a daily newspaper more than half-century ago was as sports editor of the Gadsden Times.
In addition, what with the football season having kicked off this past weekend, I have no doubt most of you are far more interested in pigskin talk than political talk. That being so, a couple of items from that arena.
While I suspect few of you outside the metropolitan area of Montgomery really care, there will be no Blue-Gray All Star football game in Montgomery on Christmas Day this year.
If you are looking for the cause of death, blame it primarily on the proliferation of bowl games. With more and more teams participating in post-season games that meant fewer players were available to play in Montgomery on Christmas Day. Good football players continued to participate in the game, but in all candor most of them were "no-names" from lesser-known colleges.
The Senior Bowl in Mobile…played after the bowl games which means the big names from the nationally ranked teams can participate…has long since become the major All Star game in the nation.
If in fact there will never been another Blue Gray game, let the record show that during its long run it did an enormous amount of good, generating millions of dollars for Lions Club charities.
Remaining in the football vein, I cannot fail to overlook a significant anniversary to be observed this fall….it was 75 years ago that the first college football game was played in Legion Field in Birmingham. For the record, Howard College (now Samford) defeated Birmingham-Southern, 9-0. You have to be as old as dirt to remember that heated rivalry between those Baptists and Methodists.
In the ensuing years some of the greatest football games ever were played at Legion Field. It rightly claimed to be the "Football Capitol of the South." There isn't a football fan alive in this state that can't tell you a Legion Field story.
In recent years Legion Field has lost much of its luster. More accurately, it has lost all of its luster. Auburn long ago ceased playing there, Alabama plays only one game a year there, and most importantly, the Iron Bowl is now played on the respective campuses.
Legion Field has followed much the same path as has the city of Birmingham. How long has it been since anyone referred to Birmingham as the "Magic City"? And there is no longer anything magical about Legion Field.
Lest I not be paid for this column, I better throw in at least one political tidbit. The Business Council of Alabama (BCA) has released a poll on the Nov. 5 election which they paid for which shows the race for governor between Don Siegelman and Bob Riley is a dead heat.
The two men were tied at 43 percent each, two percent sided with
Libertarian John Sophocleus and 11 per cent were undecided.
In the race for lieutenant governor, Democrat State Treasurer Lucy
Baxley had a double digit lead over Republican State Sen. Bill
Armistead in the lieutenant governor's race. Baxley was picked by 45 percent of those polled, Armistead mustered 34 per cent.
Back to the governor's race, more and more it appears that the black vote on Nov. 5 will be critical to Siegelman's survival. It is a given that he will get the black vote…historically they have voted solidly
Democratic…but a light turnout of black voters could spell his doom.
Few of you have ever heard of him but Alabama lost a giant last week in the death of Charlie Miller of Piedmont. Miller, perhaps as much as any Alabamian, turned this state into one of the leading poultry producing states in the nation.
He was recognized nationally for his role in that industry. Also on
his impressive resume was a World War II record which made him a genuine hero–Bronze Star, Silver Star and Purple Heart for wounds received in combat.