Our original hopes that many people would want to read about sports in the way a weekly magazine could present them have been gratifyingly confirmed by our circulation, now more than 525,000, and growing each week.
We also felt that readers like ours, with an active interest in an active field, would probably do something about what they read in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, if the occasion arose. Recently, several results of what they have done came to my attention—and they are as pleasing to me as it is when you introduce the boy and girl and they get married.
The first is a sequel to the final paragraph of Budd Schulberg's first column for us, in which he discussed bantamweights. He wrote:
Instead of cluttering up our rings...with the Johnny Gonzalveses, Bobby Dykeses and some of the other stick-and-grab artists, the I.B.C. could do a lot worse than pairing Nate Brooks with the Mexican champion, Raton Macias, and then buck the winner into a world-title fight with Cohen or Songkitrat.
October 25, 1954
The ink was hardly dry on Schulberg's suggestion before the I.B.C. did just that: they scheduled a Brooks-Macias match in Mexico City for September 26. And immediately after the fight, Joe Roberts of I.B.C. sent Schulberg this wire:
YOUR PROMOTION HUGE SUCCESS. 49,600 PAID 600,000 PESOS. TICKET DEMAND GREATEST. PEOPLE SLEPT IN LINE NIGHT BEFORE SALE OPENED. LIKE WORLD SERIES. ALL TICKETS SOLD IN TWO DAYS. CROWD SPECTACLE IN HUGE MEXICO BULL RING IMPOSSIBLE TO DESCRIBE. ALL THIS DESPITE RAIN AND WET RING. JIM NORRIS AND TRUMAN GIBSON WORKING ON MACIAS-COHEN MATCH ALREADY. WHAT WE NEED IS MORE PROMOTERS LIKE YOU.
The brilliant jockey silks in our August 30 issue inspired I. Magnin with an idea for a slightly different kind of promotion. They created a line of sweaters, blouses, and skirts in the jockey silks colors. This marriage, too, was a fruitful one. We hear that Magnin's Los Angeles store tripled its normal sportswear sales the first week the new designs appeared, and their Beverly Hills store turned in a month's worth of business on the second day. Sportswear buyer John Brunelle said: "People didn't phone in; they came in droves. One woman, who saw the crowds surging around the windows the day the new line went in, checked her cab at the curb and came in to buy the whole $56 set."
Then Paul Gallico's deftly provocative article on the pleasures of fencing (SI, Sept. 20) scored a touché right in our own editorial department. A member of our staff, foil in hand, lunged straight into a fencing class—and is still an enthusiastic convert. Moreover, the fencing master told him that he was the fifth new student Gallico's article had recruited, which in fencing circles is the same as a tidal wave.
And finally I learned that the late Grantland Rice's story in our first issue, "Golf's Greatest Putt," had suggested to the Winged Foot Golf Club of Mamaroneck, N.Y., a 25th anniversary replay of the exciting moment on their 18th green, at the exact spot Bobby Jones sank the putt to tie Al Espinosa in the 1929 Open.