About five years ago the San Diego Chargers' Ron Mix tackled a typewriter for the first time for this magazine and turned out a delightful piece he called I Swore I Would Quit Football (SI, Sept. 16, 1963). There were a few ohs and ahs in those days that a burly pro—the old James Thurber dumb-ox image still persists—could do more than sign a contract with a big X, much less actually put his thoughts down on paper. Well, the literate Mr. Mix did not quit football, nor did he quit writing; another inside-Ron Mix story appears this week on page 38. And he is running in fast company.
Mix is just one of a growing number of athletes turned author who have written their own stories in their own way for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. What surprises many readers is the quality of the writing, the gratifying ability of the athlete with a literary bent to communicate his moments of ecstasy, the weight of his agony, the fun of his frolics. From the standpoint of quantity, this literary explosion seems to have been led, as it were, by the track stars. When Roger Bannister wrote The Joy of Running for SI way back in 1955, he apparently sent several other notable trackmen sprinting for pen and pad. "I thought that I jumped in an especially light and beautiful way," wrote Russia's Igor Ter-Ovanesyan, who established a world record in 1962 with a jump of 27'3¼". SI's least-lonely long-distance runner, Hal Higdon, noted that "it is harder to explain a marathon than to run one," but he has done both with unflinching verve, and Ron Delany, now a businessman in his native Dublin, recently recalled the years of effort that led to his glory at Melbourne.
In A Final Win for the Blue (May 23, 1966) former Blue Team bridge captain Carlo Alberto Perroux distinguished himself by writing with almost hilarious gloom of his team's victory at St. Vincent, Italy. Skier Andrea Mead Lawrence schussed into our pages in 1964, 12 years after almost cornering the gold market in the 1952 Olympics, and Jim Brosnan might have been lost to baseball to begin with had he (or we) known he could write so well. Tennis player Gene Scott wrote of the miracle of reaching the semifinals at Forest Hills. An excitable table-tennis champion named Dick Miles has happily taken to the journalistic trade with Spongers Seldom Chisel, The Channel Is a Place to Suffer and A Bat About Ping-Pong, better known as the adventures of Hugo Batzlinger.
And this time, with Ron Mix revisited, we know there will not be any ohs or ahs.