There are those who need no introduction, and then there are those who need two. Take the author of this week's story on the yearling sold for $10.2 million at the Keeneland, Ky. sales. To us he's William F. Reed, a former SI staff writer and for the past 11 years our special correspondent in Louisville. But to those in the Bluegrass State, he's better known as Billy Reed, the award-winning columnist for The Courier-Journal of Louisville. "It's a point of continuing debate down here," says Reed. "Who am I?"
It was Billy who left The Courier-Journal in 1968 for a job with SI in New York, where he adopted the more dignified "William F." byline. He spent four years on our staff, writing, among other things, a story on Olympic hero Mark Spitz's relationship with his father, an introduction to a UCLA sophomore named Bill Walton and an account of the 1972 basketball brawl between Minnesota and Ohio State.
It was the Billy in Reed who in 1972 decided to go back to the blue, blue grass of home. So he returned to The Courier-Journal as an investigative reporter and promptly won a Sigma Delta Chi award for a series he co-authored with Jim Bolus on corruption in thoroughbred racing in Kentucky. Reed spent three years as a general-interest columnist for The Courier-Journal before becoming sports editor in 1977.
In the years since he left New York, Reed—William F., that is—has not only performed the arduous duties of an SI special correspondent—suggesting stories, answering queries and conducting interviews—but he also has somehow found the time to write at least one byline story for us every year. Living within driving distance of Indiana University and the universities of Kentucky and Louisville—"the Bermuda Triangle of college basketball," Reed calls it—William F. has often covered NCAA tournaments for us, as well as doing articles on Pittsburgh Pirate owner John Galbreath and Kentucky linebacker-medical student Jim Kovach.
July 31, 1983
"Billy knows what we like and what we need," says Senior Editor Larry Keith. "And he can write for his newspaper audience, then change gears [and names] and write for a national magazine audience. He can do this because he's a good journalist."
Good, indeed. In 1979 Reed—Billy, that is—won the Eclipse Award for outstanding newspaper writing about thoroughbreds, and in 1982 the National Headliners Club Award for consistently outstanding sports columns.
Reed, either Billy or William F., has a source of pride in his cellar in addition to his awards—a collection of about 200 rock 'n' roll records that dates from 1956, when Reed, 13, purchased the 45-rpm disc of Hound Dog and Don't Be Cruel, despite an eloquent sermon from his mother on the relative merits, personal and musical, of Pat Boone over you know who.
Reed's story on hip No. 308 begins on page 26, and despite what the byline reads, you can just call him Billy.