One of these days—well, sometime this fall, after the baseball season—our newest staff writer, Ron Fimrite, will get a chance to meet his associates at SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. Fimrite joined us four months ago, drew a portable typewriter, a couple of pencils and a notebook or two from the stockroom, and has been off on the baseball circuit ever since. "He'll be traveling all season," says Baseball Editor Andrew Crichton. "By the time he comes back to formally say hello, he'll already be an old hand."
This week's Fimrite dispatch took shape on the West Coast. There Writer-Reporter Herman Weiskopf (one coworker he has met) and Fimrite collaborated on the cover story of Alex Johnson and the troubled California Angels (page 12), a piece that was eventually finished in Chicago—a stop on the itinerary of both Fimrite and the Angels.
This assignment to roam is fine with Fimrite, who came to SI from The San Francisco Chronicle, where his column, The Sporting Tiger, also prowled around, taking irreverent bites at people and places. In four years of appearing on the green-tinted Chronicle sports pages—and in seven years of cityside news reporting before that—Fimrite developed a fiercely loyal following. One fan, Chub Feeney, president of the National League, claimed that "the first thing people read was the Giants' score, and the second thing was Fimrite. He was getting to be an institution."
Which figures. Fimrite had inherited the Sporting Tiger title. "I'm still not sure what it meant," he says, "but I suppose that anybody who was handed a heading like that had plenty of latitude." That is why, on one occasion, he headed out of the office for the Cal-Stanford game and ended up devoting his entire column to telling about a pre-and post-game beer bust at his old fraternity house. (The old grads decided that the oldtime teams were better.)
July 4, 1971
On another occasion Tiger Fimrite grew increasingly amused with the way Giant Broadcaster Lon Simmons interviewed ballplayers. So he concocted a column in which Simmons would make a lengthy statement and Willie McCovey would answer, "That's right, Lon." These were the only words McCovey ever got to speak. From then on, a Lon Simmons statement in private conversation or at a banquet was often greeted by choruses of "That's right, Lon."
An equally irreverent tribute to an old ex-Tiger comes from a Chronicle pal, cityside Reporter Keith Power, who describes Fimrite as "an all-round guy. A companionable drinker, an avid paddleball player and a man refusing to approach middle age with any sort of dignity."
He sounds like the sort of chap his associates would like to meet. If he ever gets back to the office.