It took only a part of a second to snap the photographs that appear on pages 27 and 28 of this issue, and a few hours to write the words that describe the moment our cameras were awaiting. Yet, because only once in the history of hockey would Bobby Hull shoot the shot that scored the goal that shattered Maurice Richard's long-standing record of 50 goals in a single season, that moment was as big as a sporting lifetime.
Already Hull is going on to score more goals and is setting new records that will in turn be broken, but no other goal will ever again just beat No. 50. That figure had a comforting roundness and a durability that made it one of sport's magic marks, along with the four-minute mile and Babe Ruth's 60. And when marks such as those fall, this magazine likes to be around.
Although our first issue appeared three months too late to record the exorcism of the magic number four in the mile run, our original lead story reported the subsequent clash of the world's first two sub-four-minute milers, Roger Bannister and John Landy. For weeks in 1961, before Roger Maris equaled and then surpassed Ruth's magic 60, our writers and photographers had been dogging the Yankee baseball team around every inch of the American League, waiting and watching for the instant when the most respected record in all sport would become a memory (below).
We were there in the person of Photographer Charles Trainor in the summer of 1963, when Pole Vaulter John Pennel hung tantalizingly in midair just long enough for a shutter to snap, then flipped himself clear of a flimsy cross-bar in Miami to become the first man to vault over 17 feet. We were there in the Los Angeles Coliseum that June night in 1956 when Charlie Dumas became the first high-jumper to exceed seven feet. And we were there, more by accident than design, when another record was set on the golf course.
March 21, 1966
Associate Editor Dan Jenkins, now one of our best-known writers, was free-lancing for us back in 1962 when he watched a young Houston collegian named Homero Blancas play in the Premier Invitational tournament for amateurs at Longview, Texas. The day ended with a fantastic 15-under-par round for Homero and a fine story for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED about the first golfer ever to shoot 55 in tournament competition—a number that certainly merited the "magic" label.
Ever since Bobby Hull scored No. 46 last month we have been trailing him like a suspicious house dick. With notebooks open and suitcases permanently packed, Senior Editor Martin Kane, Reporter Gary Ronberg and four photographers have been hopping on and off planes bound for every city in which the Black Hawks were due to appear. At each game, the photographers set up their lights and cocked their cameras in anticipation of the big moment—only to tear them down again at the game's end.
Then last Saturday in Chicago, at exactly 5:34 of the third period, the red light winked behind the visiting New York Ranger goal, and in one brief instant—too quick, really, for the eye or the mind to comprehend—an old magic number was erased and a historic moment of sport had passed.
It was a night of exaltation for Bobby Hull—and also for our weary but triumphant words-and-pictures team.