Opening The Vault

SI's rebuilt and relaunched digital archive is a journey through more than 60 years of sports history and a testament to the power of prose
March 14, 2016

OVER ALMOST 62 YEARS and 3,166 issues, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has built a reputation as the pinnacle of American sportswriting. Do we deserve that distinction? Decide for yourself by perusing any of the roughly 80,000 stories available for free in the SI Vault, which debuted last week ( To support our case, we submit these.

It's discomfiting to see the President of the United States walking toward you carrying a putter.

—GEORGE PLIMPTON, Newport Gets Some Tips from the Top, Oct. 21, 1957

The mountain-ringed oasis in the badlands of southern Nevada is crowded, prosperous and expanding apace essentially because the ancient human passion for gambling has never been daunted by unfavorable odds.

—KENNETH RUDEEN, Gambling's Adult Western, May 11, 1959

Down South—and it may be the last outpost—they still make gods of football players.

—PAT PUTNAM, The SEC Catches On, Oct. 13, 1969

Gather around the Sacred Computer, heathens, and harken to the Holy Bleep.

—ROBERT F. JONES, The Prime of Mr. John Brodie, Sept. 20, 1971

Young is what we all once were. Youth and dreams, hope and promise are what we had. It has always been one of life's unhappy mysteries how that time escapes; why it does, where it goes and, especially, when. Even sadder, this: If youth, as it is said, is the finest of days, what a price to pay after it has gone. If we are not able to look forward to the best rather than back, what really remains?

—CURRY KIRKPATRICK, So Young and So Untender, June 24, 1974

Athletes get frozen in time. They get attached to a certain year. People say, "Oh, yeah, that was his year." "That was Walt Dropo's year." "That was Dick Kazmaier's year." "Wasn't that Tom Gola's year?" Nobody ever says this about other people. Nobody once ever said that 1776 was Thomas Jefferson's year.

—FRANK DEFORD, The Kid Who Ran into Doors, Sept. 1, 1975

That thing all those dock workers, meat packers, icemen and railroad brakemen started almost 60 years ago, and which came to be known as professional football, is about to lead us once again on a thundering off-tackle 29 Oley Bob P-Series Power Ride into the grinding teeth of a 56 Stub-I Rex Change defense, if not a 43 Purple Sloop.

—DAN JENKINS, Cracking the Language Barrier, Sept. 13, 1976

One morning they were 19 fuzzy-cheeked college kids and a tall guy with a beard, and the next ... WE BEAT THE RUSSIANS!

—E.M. SWIFT, A Reminder of What We Can Be, Dec. 22, 1980

What you see before you could be any 44-year-old man slurping any bowl of cereal and watching any baseball game on TV, except that the man is a millionaire, his picture is on the cereal box and it's a little early for breakfast.

—RICK REILLY, On Deck for the Big Knock, Aug. 19, 1985

There is a bronze bust of [sportswriter Jack] Murphy outside the stadium, next to a bronze bust of former Padres owner and McDonald's founder Ray Kroc. This is not exactly Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. Especially when you consider the half-dollar-sized dollop of pigeon pudding on Kroc's forehead. More than one fan notes that Kroc looks alarmingly like Mikhail Gorbachev. Memo to the stadium cleanup crew: Buff the man's noggin before the All-Star Game, for God's sake.

—STEVE RUSHIN, Into a Golden State, July 13, 1992

But let's just say you were of this generation of men, that you once had been a kid growing up in the '50s, on some baseball team in Indiana, and you remember stitching a No. 7 on the back of your KIRCHNER'S PHARMACY T-shirt, using red thread and having no way of finishing off a stitch, meaning your hero's number would unravel indefinitely and you would have to do it over and over, stupid and unreformed in your idolatry. And today here's this distant demigod, in his death, taking human shape. What would you think now?

—RICHARD HOFFER, Mickey Mantle, Aug. 21, 1995

We were Olympians, Mamo and I. In the rage of competition we had obeyed the rules. We had each denied the voice of our inner killer and settled things the honorable way. I had always known that much about him, and it was always ample reason to press his captors for fairness.

—KENNY MOORE, The End of the World, Dec. 4, 1995

Everybody tells you it tastes just like chicken. Maybe, but only if the chicken in question had a neck tattoo, took hostages and died in a police shootout.

—JEFF MACGREGOR, Snakes Alive, July 27, 1998

The most emotionally powerful words in the English language are monosyllabic: love, hate, born, live, die, sex, kill, laugh, cry, want, need, give, take, Sawx.

—TOM VERDUCCI, Sportsmen of the Year, Dec. 6, 2004

Everything in football begins with the big hit and flows from there, like blood pumping from a beating heart, feeding limbs and organs.

—TIM LAYDEN, The Big Hit, July 30, 2007

His name was Paul Bryant, and he was popular here. They named an animal after him.

—RICK BRAGG, In the Nick of Time, Aug. 27, 2007

Nothing dies pretty.

—S.L. PRICE, The Last Days of A-Rod, Aug. 5, 2013


Andrews verdict


Extra Mustard


SI Edge



Faces in the Crowd


Dan Patrick

Damian Lillard


The Case for

Brandon Ingram




Age of Taylor Crozier, who made a hole in one on the first shot at Tiger Woods's new course, the Playgrounds, in Montgomery, Texas. It came on the 81-yard par-3 1st hole.


Career goal for Maple Leafs forward William Nylander, who scored last Saturday in a 3--2 loss to the Senators. Teammate Brooks Laich assisted on the goal, just as he did on the final career goal of Michael Nylander, William's father, on April 5, 2009, while playing for the Capitals.


The difference in winning percentage between the Lakers (.190) and the Warriors (.917) before Los Angeles's 112--95 win on Sunday at Staples Center, by that measure, the biggest NBA upset ever.