We have always felt that, along with the authoritative reporting of events, past and future, an essential purpose of a weekly sports journal was the presentation of sensitive, accurate, purposeful prose. Ten years ago, when this magazine was just beginning, to achieve this goal we often enlisted the aid of established experts in various fields. Sometimes, at strategic moments, we called upon literary figures capable of adapting their famous styles to our particular needs. In those days nobody on the staff was paying much attention to a young man on our clip desk who was engaged in cutting up newspapers and grumbling: "I can write better than that."
Today we are inclined to agree with Gilbert Rogin, now a veteran writer of 34 with a body of published work as remarkable in its range and variety as in its excellence. Introspective, visionary, even poetic by nature, Rogin also happens to be an unusually gifted reporter with an eye for detail and a sense of the dramatic. His story on page 54 of this issue, on Miami's millionaire promoter, Bill MacDonald, is neither more nor less typical of Rogin's work than his recent deadline report on the American Football League championship game from San Diego (Jan. 8) or a warm, evocative remembrance of the athletic joys and sorrows of a New York boyhood that you will be reading in a future issue. Rogin is a writer with a multiplicity of interests and even in the years when his primary assignment was the boxing beat, he found time to slip away from Floyd Patterson and Sugar Ray Robinson and Archie Moore often enough to do major personality pieces on such as Maurice Richard, Luis Aparicio, Bus Mosbacher and racing driver Roger Penske.
The real Rogin fan, however, is inclined to list among his favorites those stories that never quite seem to emerge the way they are planned. Typical, perhaps, was his account of the 1961 Transpacific race when Rogin wound up denigrating not only the 2,300-mile boat ride but the entire ocean. "Next time they want to send me to sea," Rogin reported sourly, "I'll lock myself in the bathroom for 12 days with canned goods, Sterno, an electric fan and an alarm clock. I'll sit in the tub for four hours, fully dressed, with the fan blowing across me, taking a cold shower. Then I'll get out, eat, undress and go back to the tub to sleep. Four hours later I'll put on my wet clothes, take another shower and so on." Interestingly enough, the most ardent appreciators of Rogin's account were ocean racers.
In another and gentler mood we find Rogin on the island of Molokai. "I am with Mr. Y. K. Yeng," he writes, "an old Chinese in Bermuda shorts. He relates the history of the pond: unsolved murders and mysterious explosions. About our feet three nondescript dogs: Spot, Fido, Boysan. Spot's a mongoose dog, Fido a watchdog, Boysan has no talent. He is, Mr. Yeng says, the boss dog. Sa-moan crabs with carapaces big as dinner plates wander in ambiguous transit on the bottom of Keaweanui Pond, recalling dark rooms, early delusions. Mr. Y. K. Yeng has traveled the world and recommends it. 'Float,' he tells me. 'Float.' "
February 17, 1964
Rogin attended Iowa, graduated from Columbia and now lives in Manhattan. He also writes fiction, and a collection of his short stories will be published in the spring of 1965.