Book Nook: Sports Illustrated No. 1, Aug. 16, 1954

Sometime a couple of years ago, my dad stumbled across a collector’s edition reprint of the first Sports Illustrated issue ever published. The famous one with Eddie Mathews on the cover. He called and asked me I was interested. It was cheap, so sure.

In high school, Pop’s Christmas present for me each year was renewing my subscription to Baseball America. I also subscribed to Dick Schaap’s Sport magazine, and got Baseball Weekly every week, choosing to get it from the local baseball card shop instead of subscribing. So he knew I was a fan of this sort of thing.

I have since spilled water on the damn thing, thanks to overwatering a plant on top of the bookshelf it was on. The “collector” value is long gone. So, I read it.

For a first issue, it was well thought out, leaning on the features and history of sports, leaving the current for the most part to the dailies. There were recaps and such, but the first issue is photo driven and nostalgic. They would become the staples for the next several decades of Sports Illustrated.

Checking in at 146 pages, the inaugural issue was hefty, even if half advertising. I now want to find an old Stetson Railbird hat and drive a Lincoln. Also, Bermuda looks nice.

Features include a look at Roger Bannister’s famous mile against John Michael Landy; a look at the baseball card industry that was just sprouting back then, and a look at how the 20s grews into the 50s through the lineage of a few famous sportsmans. There was also a tribute to Grantland Rice, one of the most famous columnist of his generation. And yes, he is who Bill Simmons named that one site after. There is even a tribute to beavers, dam it.

I am not often sentimental, bust nostalgia is undefeated. This read was no exception. The sport nut and the print industry nut in me were both happy to take this short trip of a read.


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