He’s not as well known as the actor with the same name but Alabama’s Steve Martin is becoming a household name across the state.
While some may laugh at Martin’s achievement as a frivolous pursuit, everyone must at least give him a thumbs up for reaching his goal. After all, it took 50 years to accomplish.
Back in the early 1960s Martin vowed that he would see every Alabama High School Athletic Association school play football during his lifetime. He reached that milestone last Friday night at John Cox Stadium in Childersburg when he watched Clay County defeat the home team 33-18.
Simply put, Martin has been from one end of the state to the other, from the mountains of North Alabama to the Gulf Coast to complete an item on his bucket list. It started when he was a teenager acting as a stringer for the Gadsden Times.
Seldom has Martin been at home on Friday nights during the past 52 falls. He’s been on the road traveling and estimates he’s put more than 150,000 miles on a variety of vehicles through the years.
Martin wasn’t alone most Friday nights. His good friend, Chris Drago of Mobile, joined him several years into the quest. Together, they’ve seen contests in each of Alabama’s 67 counties and more than 500 games. Drago lacks just 36 schools to complete his bucket list.
With consolidation, new schools and schools closing Martin figured he’s seen 450 schools play over the years. He knows that three schools are planning on adding the sport within the next couple of years and anticipates he’ll have to see those teams play.
Martin and Drago didn’t just drive to a game, watch a play or two and leave. No, before Drago came on the scene, Martin made up his mind that the only way he would check a school off his list was to get to the game before kickoff and stay to the end no matter how good or how bad the contest.
“I had to see each game in its entirety,” he told the AHSAA. “If I didn’t get to a game before it started, or if I left before it ended, I didn’t count it.”
Without hesitation, Martin says a five-overtime 2001championship game between Homewood and Benjamin Russell was the best game he ever saw. Homewood eventually won 41-34. The teams were tied 10-10 at the end of regulation.
Health problems sidelined Martin in 2012 putting off visits to see Ramsey in Birmingham and Central of Clay County. He saw the Rams play Homewood on Sept. 20.
The AHSAA currently has 386 football-playing schools. That number has fluctuated through the years so Martin isn’t kidding when he says he has seen at least 450 different schools play the game.
Martin isn’t sure he’s ready to hang up his map. Until health problems arose in recent years, he walked the sidelines, kept statistics and wrote summaries of most games. Some were published in newspapers. Those that weren’t he kept for himself.
Drago is certain his friend isn’t finished. He believes they’ll be on the road chasing those new football-playing schools in the years to come.
In looking back, Martin showed he may have a little comedian coursing through his veins when he said, “I wish I could have deducted the miles on my income tax.”