At any rate, on to the review. First issue is from June 26, 1989. Curtis Strange is on the cover with the headline "Move Over, Ben" in honor of Strange's 2nd consecutive US Open victory which hadn't been done since Hogan did it in 1950-51. No particular reason for picking this issue. I just grabbed it off a pile. More fun when you have no idea what to expect. Here are some highlights...
The Johnny Carson Memorial "I did not know that!" Department
-In the Letters section there are no fewer than 6 letters concerning the sanctions that were issued by the NCAA against Kentucky's basketball program back in '89. The best one questions Kentucky's sincerity about cleaning up it's program based on the hiring of Rick Pitino, citing the 68 violations Hawaii's program was hit with in the late 70's when Pitino was an assistant. I had no idea Pitino was even at Hawaii. Or that Hawaii hoops suffered a two-year probabtion between 1977-1979.
-In the US Open story on Strange, written by Rick Reilly is in insert that highlights the four hole-in-ones that were made on the 6th hole in the Friday of that Open. I actually knew that part. I knew four guys had aced the same hole on the same day. And I knew Nick Price was one of them. But I didn't know how fast it happened. The immortal Doug Weaver made an ace at 8:15. Mark Wiebe made one at 9:25. Jerry Pate, two groups behind Wiebe, made one at 9:50. And Nick Price, in the group behind Pate, made his at 10:05. So the people sitting at the 6th that morning saw 4 aces in less than two hours. Not too shabby.
-The Scorecard page has a brief bit on the resignation of Barry Switzer as football coach at Oklahoma in the wake of numerous violations and arrests that would ultimately lead to a 3-year probation from the NCAA. The best part is a blurb about an OU Finance major who wrote a letter to the Athletic Dept. at OU suggesting that they fire Switzer and abolish atheltic dorms before Switzer resigned. Switzer's reply, as printed in S.I....
This is in response to your letter to Mr. Loren Ellis, copied to me.
Mike, you haven't lived long enough for me to consider your suggestions and proposals of much value.
Head Football Coach
-"I'm the baddest Bad Boy you've ever seen!"
-Rick Mahorn, still basking in Detroit's sweep of the Lakers to win the NBA title. What Rick didn't know at the time was that he was about to be shipped to Minnesota in the expansion draft. I imagine he must have been less than pleased when he got that news.
-"For the first time, there is a feeling that this is the formula to eradicate drugs in U.S. track and field."
-Frank Greenberg, president of The Athletics Congress on a new drug policy for US track and field. From 1989. Yeah, how'd that work out for you, Frank?
Kevin Mitchell Madness
My favorite article in the entire issue is a piece on Kevin Mitchell, who was leading the league in home runs at that point, with 24. Knowing what we know about Kevin Mitchell now (decent career with flashes of offensive brilliance but bounced all over the league and never ultimately fulfilled his promise) it's pretty funny to read the unmitigated praise and respect he was getting back then. Especially since Mitchell himself was not shy about tooting his own horn. These two quotes sum it up...
"In my 40 years of baseball, I've seen a lot of great hitters. But I can't remember anything like this. It's unbelievable."
-Giants Manager, Roger Craig
"Unbelievable? You think I can't keep this up for the whole year? You think it's impossible? Well, I can. Hitting is easy for me."
Ads of note
-Pall Mall Cigarettes has a spread on the inside of the cover featuring a giant carton of smokes bursting through a pier. I'm guessing they might not be advertising in SI any more. Just a guess.
-Seagram's Light Whiskey has a tremendously cheesy ad. No fewer than 12 of the whitest white people in the history of white people sitting around some kind of ski lodge table with veggies and dip, laughing and smiling at each other.
-Dr. J appears in a generic yellow basketball uniform in an ad for Dr. Scholl's new Tritin cure for athlete's foot. "Tritin scores the first three-point play against athlete's foot," says the Doc.
-Miller ran an ad which had two coupons at the bottom. One was for $5 off a pair of "Brews Brothers" boxer shorts. The Brews Brothers, by the way, were penguins wearing boxer shorts and sunglasses. So maybe it's no surprise that the other coupon is for $10 off a pair of Gargoyles So-Cool Shades with a free Croakies sports cord.
Greyhound Racing: Wave of the Future
Another highlight of the issue is a 4 page article about how Greyhound racing is booming and horse racing is dying. They even use Wonderland (yes, THAT Wonderland) and Suffolk Downs as the case study. Here are some tidbits from that column...
"At Suffolk Downs the paint is peeling, the windows are splattered with pigeon droppings and the pitted asphalt is littered with hot dog wrappers from the sad little snack bars."
"By contrast, Wonderland is the Tomorrowland of racing....the track is bright and cheerful, with sparkling art-deco tile, neon lights and clean bathrooms. Bettors have their choice of pizza, calzone or a good-quality hamburger, and the bar is an attractive wood and brass pub."
"No greyhound track has ever failed or ever lost money." -Elliot Maisel, owner of 4 dog tracks.
1989 NBA Draft Preview
SI predicted the first round draft picks for all 27 teams. They got 4 of them right.
Inside Baseball With Peter Gammons
-John Dopson was cited in Peter's column for having committed more balks by himself (11) than any pitching staff in the entire league. (11 balks? Are you kidding me?)
-Under "The Price of Stardom" was this tidbit on the aforementioned Kevin Mitchell..."In March you could get the rookie card of Kevin Mitchell for 25 cents. Now the price has climbed to $6. (And I hope you sold at $6/card too. Because now? There's one Kevin Mitchell for sale on ebay for $0.35 and there are no takers.)
-Peter quotes an unnamed scout who claims that Ruben Sierra is the best player in the American League. People were legitmately upset that Canseco got the All-Star start over Ruben.
-Whitey Herzog and Lou Gorman are both quoted regarding their lust for Expos lefty Mark Langston. Lou says Boston will enter a bidding war with anyone if Langston becomes available.