With the NCAA playoffs and spring training both upon us, editing either college basketball or major league baseball for SI would appear to be a full-time assignment, but Senior Editor Larry Keith, whose job it was to coordinate this week's 12 pages of text on Johnny Bench and the NCAA regionals, has been going around the office looking pretty much as you see him above.
Of course, wearing two hats is nothing new for Keith. From 1975, when he became the youngest writer then on our staff, to May 1 of last year, when he became the youngest of our senior editors, Keith, now 33, regularly wrote about both college hoops and baseball, his byline appearing as many as 35 times a year. The change to editing has involved him in different responsibilities but has proved no less a commitment.
"A writer is like an independent contractor," he says. "You know the subject inside out and write the story but have little to do with it after it gets to the office. An editor, on the other hand, may not be as close to the subject but handles the story every other step of the way."
Keith was reminded of the difference recently when he and the family visited Florida to hit the spring training camps, see the South Florida-Connecticut NIT game and have dinner at the home of South Florida Basketball Coach Lee Rose in Tampa. At the Roses, Larry and his wife, Carolyn, a former SI picture editor, sampled the old—and sometimes more glamorous—life of the roving writer as they feasted on fresh shrimp, stone crabs and strawberry daiquiris. Nonetheless, his dedication to editing remained unshaken.
March 30, 1981
"I had to adjust to less travel and being deskbound," Keith says, "but I found that there were more than adequate compensations. I've been able to lead a more orderly life with Carolyn and our sons Robby [3½] and Teddy [1½], and I've discovered that editing offers its own creative challenges. Deciding what's to be covered, for example, and when and where it will run in the magazine. Johnny Bench and the regionals were obvious choices, but you're also obliged to come up with more original story ideas."
Keith's favorites among his ideas so far have been the hand-shaking piece Curry Kirkpatrick wrote, to rave reviews, in the Feb. 16 issue, the introduction of our weekly basketball Top 20 and the notion of putting Ralph Sampson, Mark Aguirre and Albert King on the cover of the college basketball issue dressed as a Revolutionary fife-and-drum corps.
Says Keith, "I have found that the best thing about editing is its total involvement in the publishing process: helping to choose pictures and layouts, assigning stories, discussing ideas, planning special issues. As a writer, I didn't fully appreciate how much goes into putting out the magazine. Now I do."