Looking back has its pleasures, and it was with considerable enjoyment, surprise and a sense of discovery that this decade-ending issue evolved, for it permitted—indeed, demanded—the kind of retrospection Americans rarely allow themselves these days. Consider that the '60s began with Ingemar Johansson as Sportsman of the Year, Arnold Palmer about to win five tour tournaments in nine weeks and Wilt Chamberlain not even retired for the first time. Tom Seaver was 15 years old, the Mets were merely a gleam and not a teaspoon of turf had been turned on the site of the stadium that was to be home for 1969's world champions of baseball and football.
This is an article from the Dec. 22, 1969 issue
Our remembrance research for this issue began six months ago. Lists were made of every significant athletic event, every major personality, every never-to-be-forgotten moment that was now totally ignorable. Names from the past arose: Kelso, Mazeroski, Weatherly, Lewiston, Me. Quotes were recalled: "My doctor says if I diet I'll just lose strength"—Jack Nicklaus. And artifacts of the last decade came to mind: Patterson's beard, Auerbach's cigar, Throneberry's glove, BREAK UP THE YANKEES banners. With this as a basis, we began the search for photographs that would portray the decade as we saw it. Some thousands of pictures and how-dare-you-leave-outs later we completed the special section beginning on page 38, entitled There Were No Greener Pastures, our own reverie of the decade.
Meanwhile, William Johnson and Nancy Williamson were developing a much different story of the '60s, an appraisal of the surprising, and at times overwhelming, effect of television on sport. For two months they interviewed network executives, announcers, advertising buyers and the men who run spectator sports. Johnson grew a beard—perhaps to enhance his media image—and became something of a fixture at Manhattan TV haunts, while Mrs. Williamson learned the four-hour lunch can pay off with four hours of background information. Johnson came away impressed with the candor of all concerned. He then moved on to tour the country with camera crews, to talk with team owners and finally to find out what happened when the picture tube was actually turned on in places like St. Joe, Mo. and Morristown, Minn. His series, which begins on page 86 with TV Made It All a New Game, is the first comprehensive assessment of the romance and marriage of television and sport.
Finally we had to select our Sportsman of the Year, the personality whose performance as both athlete and man best reflected pure excellence. It is a testimony to the vigor of 1969 that never before have readers offered us so much help—three times as many suggestions as usual. The list ran literally from A (Hank Aaron) to Z (Larry Ziegler, who won the $100,000 Michigan Golf Classic only to find there was no purse money). Included were the fans of Baltimore "for survival under pain," Harmon Killebrew for "being alltime nicest," Jack Nicklaus for "losing 20 pounds" and Notre Dame Athletic Director Moose Krause for accepting the Cotton Bowl bid and thereby "letting the whole world know how bad Notre Dame's football team is." Also suggested was a 1960 sandlotter named Tom Seaver, whom William Leggett portrays in a story that starts on page 32.
Now the most eventful decade in the history of sport is almost over. Happily it was eventful for us, too, for our circulation rose from 900,000 to more than two million, a kind of batting average statistic that suggests we are properly reflecting the big new place sport has found in American life, reflecting it in a way you like. And so it is with special pleasure that I end the '60s by wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Decade.