In his seven years at SI, senior writer Rick Reilly has traveled from his home in Denver to places as far-flung as Scotland. China, Tokyo and what was once East Berlin—all in the line of duty. But, says Reilly, "when people ask me where I'd really like to go, I tell them, 'Salisbury, North Carolina!' " Salisbury, you see, is the home of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, whose nearly 1,000 members elect the year's best sportswriter and sportscaster. This week Reilly will make the pilgrimage to Salisbury. His peers have named him Sports-writer of the Year for 1991.
Another of our nomadic senior writers, Gary Smith, has lived in France and Bolivia, with extended stays in Charleston, S.C., since he joined the magazine in 1982. Last week Smith flew to New York City from his home-for-the-year. a seaside village in northern Spain, to pick up a National Magazine Award in the feature writing category for his piece Shadow of a Nation (SI, Feb. 18, 1991), a story about Crow Indian basketball players in Montana.
Although their prose appears frequently in our pages, Reilly and Smith have met only once—on a train far from either of their homes, of course. The year was 1984. Reilly was with the Los Angeles Times; Smith's future wife, Sally Wilson, was with The Dallas Morning News; and Gary was along for the ride. "We were at Wimbledon," recalls Gary, "and after the tournament Rick and Sally had to go to Manchester to see Zola Budd race. We had a lot of laughs on that train ride."
Reilly, as our faithful readers can imagine, no doubt created a lot of that mirth, and he remembers that trip a little differently. "On the train Gary was stroking his beard and looking like he was hatching novels in his mind the whole time," says Reilly. "His writing is so wonderful they should back the fences up for him."
April 26, 1992
Despite their different writing styles, Reilly and Smith have more in common than award-winning talent, well-worn passports and that long-ago train ride. Bach has a brood of three with an international flavor. In September 1989 a four-month-old girl from Seoul arrived at Denver's Stapleton Airport to become the sister of Kellen and Jake Reilly, who are now seven and five, respectively. "The Jetway was like a giant birthing canal," says Reilly. "Waiting for Rae to arrive was every bit as dramatic as a regular delivery. Kellen was a little disappointed, though. He had been hoping Rae would be able to wrestle right away."
The Smiths adopted their eldest child, Gabriela, while they were living in Bolivia. She is six now and studies Spanish in her first-grade class in a nearby village, where her sister, Savi, is a four-year-old preschooler. The youngest Smith, Noah, is taking in all the Spanish culture he can at the age of 1½.
It seems travel does have its own rewards.