ATLANTA - He is a Georgia sports legend and after more than 51 years, he is finally fully retiring.
Bill Hartman has been with FOX 5 Sports in some capacity since he was 21 years old. That was 1970. In that time he has covered Super Bowls, World Series, Olympic Games, and more.
He retired from full-time sports in 2008, but couldn’t stop coming back to the gridiron to cover the Game of the Week for High 5 Sports. He said he just enjoys it better than the NFL or college football.
"When a 16-year-old kid makes the reception for the touchdown, he grins from ear to ear," Hartman said.
Hartman knows a thing or two having played for Athens High School in the 1960s as a left-handed quarterback on the JV team, but he said he knew he’d never made QB for the varsity team. Instead, he took that same passion and turned it into a life-long career of reporting.
In 1965, he started working for the Athens Banner-Herald in the fall of his senior year of high school covering his team. He eventually got picked up by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as a freshman enrolled at Georgia.
Eventually, Hartman migrated to radio where he honed his now-classic cadence and started to build his rapport with area high school coaches.
After 35 years on FOX 5, Hartman retired from the daily grind but just couldn’t stay away from those Friday night games. The very next season he joined the High 5 Sports crew as their Game of the Week reporter.
Hartman felt at home showcasing not just the players and coaches, but the school life. Most of his live shots previewing the game show the unique flavor of school life at each high school he visits talking to cheerleaders, staff, clubs, and of course, the bands.
And each week, he’d get a sideline view of the best matchup in Georgia, then get to report on it. He’s also befriended many superstars and standouts over the years.
Hartman turned 73 this year and he said if he could keep doing this until he was 100 if he thought he could, but like all great sports legends, he knows when its time.
During Friday’s broadcast, he was honored as being High 5 Sports Report Emeritus and was presented a special High 5 Hand Trophy by his life-long friend Jim Broadway, an assistant coach with Fellowship Christian.
He was inducted into the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.
His final Game of the Week was a playoff matchup between Prince Avenue Christian and Fellowship Christian. And as the trophy reads, "It will never be the same without you."