AUGUST 12, 1955
In the wonderful world of sport...
A year ago this day, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's staff was happily relaxed. With Paul O'Neil's brilliant reporting of the now-famous Vancouver Mile as its lead story, the first issue of the new magazine had gone to press.
We had already spent a full year preparing for that first issue, studying and researching and watching sports from every angle. Many of us had been in the sports reporting business a long time. We had seen a lot of records broken, rookies made into stars, games won and lost. We had followed the hunting trails and scouted the fishing grounds. Even so, after an experimental year of taking a new long look at sports, we were wide-eyed at all there was still to see. We came up from our record books and trial runs and called it "the wonderful world of sport."
August 14, 1955
Maybe we were na√Øve. But the truth was we had just discovered an important part of life.
Now we've had our first publishing year with sports, four full seasons. A lot of things happened: five milers broke the four-minute barrier; the Davis Cup came home from Australia; the Dodgers ran up the longest string of opening-season wins in major league history; an unknown pro from Iowa defeated mighty Ben Hogan in the Open; for the second time in 81 years, a California-bred horse won the Kentucky Derby; the world's highest mountains were falling like tenpins.
It was a golden year to launch America's first national sports weekly.
The goals we set for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
These were the goals we set for ourselves at SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's beginning:
to cover all sports; to turn to the world of sports the talents of the best writers and the best photographers; to find in every sport not only the enduring essentials of human achievement, but the exuberance, color, and quiet pleasure of sports; above all, to be authoritative.
In this year that has now passed, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has covered some 95 sports. Among them—golf, written to the satisfaction of BOBBY JONES, who told us so ... boxing, to the satisfaction of JACK DEMPSEY; he told us so... track and field, to the satisfaction of ROGER BANNISTER; he let us know...baseball, to the satisfaction of the father of the modern game, BRANCH RICKEY; he sent us a letter saying so.
Paul Gallico (who had written "Farewell to Sport") said hello to sports again and for us has written as of old on fencing, fishing and cricket. Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winner WILLIAM FAULKNER has covered hockey and the Kentucky Derby. JOHN P. MARQUAND, another Pulitzer Prize winner, began his series on country clubs early this summer.
Budd Schulberg, winner of an Academy Award for "On the Waterfront," writes regularly of boxing (and in part tribute to his SPORTS ILLUSTRATED articles was given Notre Dame's 1955 Bengal Bouts Award as "the man who had done most for boxing in the past year"). Still another Pulitzer Prize writer, JOHN STEINBECK, has written about fishing. HERBERT WARREN WIND, called by those who know the most sensitive and literate golf writer the game has ever had, is SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's golf authority.
Staff photographers HY PESKIN (who has won more prizes for sports photography than any other cameraman in the country), MARK KAUFFMAN (winner of the White House News Photographers Association spot news award last year), and RICHARD MEEK (whose color picture of jockey silks has already become a sports classic) have added to their reputation as three of the finest in the business.
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's very first story, PAUL O'NEIL's account of the Vancouver Mile, was selected for the famous annual, Best Sports Stories 1955; and GERALD HOLLAND'S long-range survey of sports, "The Golden Age Is Now," was made required reading by Ohio State University for its physical education students.
SI has devised solid journalistic inventions and innovations such as Conversation Piece, Spectacle, Preview, Yesterday, Scouting Report, Pat on the Back and You Should Know to sharpen the week's news. Taken altogether, they provide a new vantage point from which to view the whole thrilling sports panorama.
And finally, for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, sports experts have become writers—and contributed the authority of the years they have devoted to their fields—for example, HERMAN HICKMAN and OTTO GRAHAM on football; EDDIE ARCARO on racing; BILLY TALBERT and SARAH PALFREY on tennis; TENZING, CHARLES EVANS, and DR. CHARLES HOUSTON on mountain climbing; PAUL RICHARDS, RED SMITH, FRANK FRISCH on baseball...
How "The Wonderful World of Sport" looks to one reader
How much our readers think of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED is evident in the department known as The 19th Hole, certainly the liveliest letters-to-the-editor section in any magazine.
It has been a true test of the way SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has tapped not one, but many appeals to people whose hearts lie in sports, for one or for many reasons. They tell us it seems incredible that SPORTS ILLUSTRATED hasn't already been around as long as sports themselves, and we don't mind confessing that their letters have given us some of the happiest moments of the year.
Out of all the words our readers have written to and about SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, probably none have said so well what this magazine has meant to the sports world as these from a gentleman in Alabama:
"Although we are original subscribers to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, at our house, I have resisted writing down my thoughts about the magazine, or should I say one aspect of it, until now...
"Your phrase, 'The Wonderful World of Sport,' is to me the finest possible description of your magazine. It catches the eye, it conveys so many things, and it can be interpreted in so many ways that I can no longer resist telling you what it means to me.
"I recall—when I was 11, I believe it was—that my Dad got me and my older brother out of bed at 4 o'clock in the morning. We put on four pairs of socks, heavy underwear, at least two shirts, a couple of sweaters, and coveralls, plus a stocking cap. We poured scalding hot water on the manifold and cranked up the old Ford for a 12-mile ride to a little slough where we knew the mallards would be feeding.
"The wonderful world of sport means getting up before daylight in the little town I lived in, and hurrying down to the tennis courts, and sitting on the court until daylight to be sure we'd have a court to play on.
"It means a basket in the backyard where all the neighborhood kids came before and after school and all day Saturday and Sunday. It means a box of magazines in the basement where we could shoot the rifle. It means football—first touch, then tackle, and then touch again. It means pole-vaulting with a broken javelin shaft when I weighed 60 pounds. It means sports idols, band music, cheering crowds, walking miles to play...
"Some people would say people my age are over the hill, even though we still compete in golf, tennis, bowling, fishing, hunting. But a true sportsman is never over the hill if he really believes in what you so rightfully call The Wonderful World of Sport.' It is truly just that—a wonderful world of sport."
As SPORTS ILLUSTRATED goes into its second year, we couldn't agree more. Perhaps we're just one year less na√Øve, but we're surer than ever that it's indeed a wonderful world.