By Mike Haskew
There are few names in Tennessee sports history which illicit as much laughter, inspiration, and fond memories than Stump Martin. Marvin Taylor Martin, Jr., affectionately dubbed “Stump,” is a staple in local sports – the face and voice of local youth athletics.
During his illustrious career, Stump has coached area softball and baseball teams for 43 years. He coached baseball at UTC, worked as the Rossville Director of Parks and Recreation, hosted Hardee’s Prep Gameday and Friday Night Scoreboard on ESPN Radio, and spent 20 years as a sports writer for the Chattanooga News Free Press, Chattanooga Times Free Press, and The Catoosa County News – covering six Super Bowls and five World Series.
With his 60th birthday approaching and so many experiences under his belt, it would be reasonable to believe that Stump would consider slowing down. But for anyone who knows Stump, that is not a reasonable assumption. Energy is the first word that comes to mind when talking about this local legend, and his passion for sports and kids has always been a joy in everything that he does. “I feel like Peter Pan in a way,” he laughs. “I have never grown up, and through my connection to sports, I am still living my dream of being around younger folks and coaching kids.”
Learning from the Greats
While sports began to be a huge part of his life early on, three men, in particular, have had a profound effect on Stump’s life and career: Walt Lauter, long time coach, administrator and youth athletic advocate in Rossville, Lynn Murdock, long time Rossville coach and teacher, and Dal Shealy, Stump’s Carson-Newman football coach and executive director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) Football Coaches Ministry. “Mr. Lauter lived across the street from me in Rossville, and every minute of every day was about the kids.” “Lynn Murdock was a great Christian man,” says Stump. “Dal Shealy has been a great mentor and friend.”
Making an Impact
Stump has taught those same lessons and ideals to the kids he’s coached, but with his own punch of energy and ferocity. Over the years, he has touched the lives of countless individuals, many of whom have gone on to be incredibly successful. And while the stories of Stump vary from person to person, there is always a theme – a passion for teaching kids life lessons.
Green Bay Packers quarterback B.J. Coleman played on a summer league baseball team for Stump when he was 14 years old, and that summer he learned a valuable lesson. “Stump had just gotten through giving me a lecture on how important it is to listen to the coach, work for the betterment of the team, and give credit where credit is due. We were playing at Ridgeland against a very good team, and I said, ‘Coach, I think I’m ready to call my own pitches.’ He said okay, and by the second inning we were down and I was getting irritated. By the 4th inning, they had scored 13 runs on us, but coach still didn’t say a word. It taught me a lot about what it means to be a teammate. I don’t think I would have learned that lesson as quickly if it weren’t for Stump.”
Long time friend and Heritage football coach Tim James applauds Stump for the work he has done for the youth and the city. “Stump’s focus on kids has made a huge impact. In the media, a lot of emphasis is put on the professional side of sports. Stump has done a great service to the Chattanooga area in promoting high school athletics through Stump on Sports. His work with the TN/GA All-Star Classic adds flavor and excitement to the Chattanooga area.”
Barry Courter of the Times Free Press has known Stump since 1968 and appreciates the impact that he had on his own son and other kids who played ball for Stump. “My son has said many times that even in college and his job today, very little rattles him because of that experience with Stump.”
Keeping them Laughing
While many sentimental thoughts flow when talking about Stump, those who know him also have something else to share – funny stories. Stump’s energetic and unique personality has put him in some interesting spots over the years, but it always provides plenty of entertainment.
“One of the funniest things happened at an away game,” says Barry Courter. “Jeremy Woods (QB at Ooltewah) was playing second base and failed to cover the bag. He stood watching as the batter advanced from first to second. While Stump stood by the dugout chewing him out, Jeremy walked over to the runner and said, ‘Why did you do that? You made me look bad and that fat man is really mad at me.’ The runner actually apologized.”
Randy Smith recalls
a particular instance in
which Stump got thrown
out of a ball game. “He
got thrown out of the ball game and sat in his car, and then he coached over the phone to his wife and one of his assistant coaches.“
Closer to Home
In 2012, Stump took on his most recent challenge as Director of Parks and Recreation for the city of East Ridge. He continues, with his wife Deb, to host Stump on Sports, a local cable TV show dedicated to promoting youth sports in the Chattanooga area and now in its 28th year. He is also an owner of tnvarsity.com, the rivals.com Tennessee high school sports website.
Leaving a Legacy
His career achievements are numerous, but Stump remains humble and focused on family – his wife of 38 years, Deb, his daughter, Misty, and his grandson, Austin – faith, and helping others. “Stump never forgets anything, and he has an uncanny ability to find your tender spot,” says Courter. “That is why he has been so successful in teaching and leading kids in sports and in life lessons. He will no doubt continue to touch this community and its young athletes for years to come.” You could say, Stump has been and continues to pay it forward for generations to come.