THE SECOND issueof SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, dated Aug. 23, 1954, reprinted a humorous newspapercolumn from the Corpus Christi Caller about horse psychiatrists. The author,one "Ray" Terrell, received $250 and an invitation to New York for atwo-week writer's trial. Along the way SI's editors learned he had been aMarine fighter pilot in World War II—and that they'd misspelled his first name,which was really Roy.
They also learnedthat Terrell, who died of cancer last week at age 83, was the best all-purposewriter they had. Before long he was covering virtually every sport for SI. Forlong stretches his wife, Charlyne, and their four kids hardly saw him.
In 1963, AndreLaguerre, then in the early stages of his storied 14-year career as managingeditor, tapped Terrell (above) to be his successor. Upon assuming the post in'74, Terrell raised the bar even higher for writing and reporting, and pushedback deadlines to allow for more news. (The cover of the April 15, 1974, issueshows Hank Aaron holding the 715th home run ball he had hit hours before SI'sclosing time.) As much as anyone Terrell helped make the magazine thesuccessful enterprise it has become.
In 1979 Royretired to Florida to play golf and tennis and to fish, activities at which hewas nearly as good as many of the athletes he had written about. He kept tabson SI and in '91 he wrote a column reminding younger fans to take a long viewof sports history and not forget that there were great moments that came beforetheir time. "I know," he wrote. "I've been there."