Local sports scene legend Marvin 'Stump' Martin touched many lives

Local sports scene legend Marvin 'Stump' Martin touched many lives

Longtime sports reporter, advocate, TV personality dies at 64

May 10th, 2018 by Barry Courter in Breaking News

In this 2009 staff file photo, Stump Martin talks in the locker room of Rossville Middle School.

Photo by Staff File Photo /Times Free Press.

This story was updated May 10, 2018, at 11:59 p.m.

Marvin "Stump" Martin was remembered Thursday by friends, co-workers and colleagues as a major figure in the local sports scene, especially in the North Georgia area where he hosted radio and television talk shows that showcased local athletes, especially high school students, for more than four decades.

The North Georgia icon, 64, died Thursday at Parkridge Medical Center in Chattanooga.

Martin hosted a local radio show and later a TV show in the North Georgia area for decades. He also coached several softball, baseball and football teams. He coached his daughter Misty's softball team for many years, always aided by his beloved wife, Deb. He was the assistant baseball coach at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in the late 1970s and early '80s before it was cut from the school's athletics offerings.

Marvin "Stump" Martin is the new director of the East Ridge Parks and Recreating Department.

Marvin "Stump" Martin is the new director of...

Photo by Jake Daniels /Times Free Press.

The head coach was Bob Brotherton, Martin's best friend since middle school. The two attended Rossville Middle and High schools before going to Carson-Newman University together to play baseball.

"He was a great individual," an emotional Brotherton said Thursday. "He loved kids, he loved sports and in the North Georgia and Chattanooga area, he did a lot for kids. A lot of things that people were unaware of."

B.J. Coleman, a standout quarterback at McCallie School and UTC, was drafted by the Green Bay Packers. He played for Martin on a baseball team that traveled the country and said, "He genuinely loved kids. He dedicated his life to serving the greater good through his radio and television shows."

Coleman said his fondest memories of being a part of the team involve traveling and watching the way Martin interacted with people, especially his players. Coleman said Martin was always tough but fair and demanded his players always be respectful. He recalled one trip where Martin taught him a valuable lesson about humility. After getting a lecture on being a team player, and after being told he would be the starting pitcher, Coleman made the mistake of asking if he could call his own pitches.

"He said, 'Sure you can.'" It did not go well for Coleman, and Martin was happy to let him learn a lesson, leaving him in the game after he'd given up several hits and runs.

"It brought me back down to earth. He was very good at letting boys be boys and still providing structure. He was very influential in my life, and Deb was always right there by his side. The family aspect and perspective he provided will always be with me."

Martin was a sports reporter for the Chattanooga News-Free Press for many years and later a news reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He was the parks and recreation director for the city of East Ridge for the last six years.

Greg Payne played high school sports in the North Georgia area and later coached at Gordon Lee and then McCallie. He knew Martin first "as a celebrity" and later as a friend and business partner.

"He's the greatest ... if you were from North Georgia he meant more to you than just about anybody else because he was ours. He was our voice at the Free Press, because most of what he wrote about was North Georgia stuff.

"I graduated in 1986 and we became friends. I bet every athlete since 1983 or '84 from North Georgia knows who Stump Martin is. That's saying something," Payne said. "That dude, he did more for North Georgia kids than anybody."

Kim Gann, administrative assistant at Camp Jordan in East Ridge, said Martin continued that focus in his job with the city of East Ridge.

"He was for the kids," she said.

Gann grew up in the same Rossville neighborhood as Martin and remembers kicking him out of the neighborhood pool after he told his younger brothers, Marshall and Michael, to "jump in and splash that lady."

She said Martin was dedicated to upgrading the facilities at Camp Jordan and other city parks "to get kids back out playing ball.

"Most people have no idea how many people he's gotten scholarships for. That's what he was all about. So many would come in here without any money, and he always found it for them."

East Ridge City Manager Scott Miller called Martin "a great man" who was focused on "improving the facilities and programs that benefit the community. He will be missed by a lot of people here in East Ridge, and elsewhere."

Judy O'Neill has been the owner of UCTV, which carries "Stump on Sports," in North Georgia for more than 35 years. Before that, she was on a rival station in the area, and she remembers an incident when Martin challenged her to wrestle a bear at a local high school.

"I felt like I had to go," she said. "I was younger then. Well, they had a person dressed up like a bear and I made a scene. I thought making a scene was part of it. They threatened to have me arrested because I made such a scene. They made a fool out of me," she said with a big laugh. "He was always saying something about me.

"I sure will miss him."

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

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