August 2, 2023, Savannah, GA – The Georgia Historical Society (GHS) announced today that Dr. Clayton Trutor has been awarded the 2023 Malcolm Bell, Jr. and Muriel Barrow Bell Award for the best book on Georgia history published in 2022 for Loserville: How Professional Sports Remade Atlanta-and How Atlanta Remade Professional Sports (University of Nebraska Press).
The Bell Award, established in 1992, is the highest publication award given by the Georgia Historical Society. It recognizes the best book on Georgia history published in the previous year. The award is named in honor of Malcolm Bell, Jr. and Muriel Barrow Bell in recognition of their contributions to the recording of Georgia’s history.
The Bell Award selection committee said, “Clayton Trutor’s Loserville deftly reframes the history of modern Atlanta through the prism of sports. By recruiting new professional teams to ‘The City Too Busy to Hate,’ civic leaders promoted the city nationally as a model of the New South. In particular, Trutor explores how Mayor Ivan Allen’s efforts to transform Atlanta into a ‘big-league’ city were intertwined with his efforts to promote the city as a beacon for civil rights. The executed plan and new civic stadiums, however, simultaneously destroyed African-American neighborhoods and further marginalized the city’s Black residents. Thoroughly researched and with engaging prose, the volume shows us how boosters have long and falsely proclaimed the social benefits of professional sports.”
“Clayton Trutor’s Loserville fills a gap in our knowledge about the important role that professional sports have played in our state’s history,” says Stan Deaton, PhD, the Dr. Elaine B. Andrews Distinguished Historian and Senior Historian at GHS. “The book is a worthy winner of the Malcolm Bell, Jr. and Muriel Barrow Bell Award.”
Clayton Trutor, PhD, is an author, historian, and freelance writer based in Vermont. He is an instructor at Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont. He is also the Vermont state chair of the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR) and co-editor of Overcoming Adversity: Baseball’s Tony Conigliaro Award (SABR, 2017). He earned his PhD in history from Boston College.
For more information about the Malcolm Bell, Jr. and Muriel Barrow Bell Award please contact Keith Strigaro, Director of Communications, at 912.651.2125, ext. 153 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For a list of past recipients of the Bell Award please visit our website at georgiahistory.com.
About the Book (from University of Nebraska Press)
In July 1975 the editors of the Atlanta Constitution ran a two-part series entitled “Loserville, U.S.A.” The provocatively titled series detailed the futility of Atlanta’s four professional sports teams in the decade following the 1966 arrival of its first two major league franchises, Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves, and the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons. Two years later, the Atlanta Hawks of the National Basketball Association became the city’s third major professional sports franchise. In 1972 the National Hockey League granted the Flames expansion franchise to the city, making Atlanta the first southern city with teams in all four of the big leagues.
Loserville examines the pursuit, arrival, and response to professional sports in Atlanta during its first decade as a major league city (1966-75). It scrutinizes the origins of what remains the primary model for acquiring professional sports franchises: offers of municipal financing for new stadiums. Other Sunbelt cities like San Diego, Phoenix, and Tampa that aspired to big league stature adopted Atlanta’s approach. Like the teams in Atlanta, the franchises in these cities have had mixed results-both in terms of on-field success and financial stability.