This being the season for doubles—the ground rule kind, the mixed kind, the bogey kind—it seemed high time to put out our first summer double issue. This also being vacation season, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED will be on hiatus next week. We say this as much to inform you, the reader, as to protect every postal worker and newsstand operator who risks incurring the wrath of confused SI faithful when a separate Aug. 2 issue fails to materialize. To repeat: There will be no magazine next week. But this week's double issue is special enough to make up for it.
For the fourth installment of our millennium series, we have picked our favorite sports photographs of the century. No easy task, considering that the first sports photographers were working long before SI was born in 1954. To make sure we didn't miss any good candidates, our photo staff spent months sifting through 100 years of material, some long forgotten. "Although there were certain obvious choices, like the second Ali-Liston fight or Willie Mays's famous catch," says photo researcher Irish Pfeifer, "we wanted to uncover the other gems." While some pictures, for their epic subject matter or technical brilliance, might be considered the "best" photos of the century, we were picking a slightly different group—our favorites; the ones, explains senior editor Chris Hunt, that "immediately, for whatever reason, strike a chord within."
One of these is Marvin Newman's locker-room shot of the Texas Christian football team just before the Homed Frogs set out to face Jim Brown and Syracuse in the 1957 Cotton Bowl. As Gary Smith writes in dissecting the players and the scene (page 133), "This is what sports is most about: the moments before, the times when a person takes a flashlight to his soul and inspects himself for will and courage and spirit." The photo brilliantly captures that soul-searching, which explains why the members of the '57 TCU team, who were reunited for the picture on page 148, aren't the only ones who can look at Newman's shot and see themselves.
Since 1954 the mission of SI has been to deliver to our readers, in words and pictures, the game they may have missed (or a new perspective on the one they watched on TV), the play their bleacher seats didn't allow them to see, the locker-room meeting to which they had no access. As much as we try to re-create important sports moments through colorful, insightful prose, sometimes a picture says more than a paragraph ever could. That's why, out of all the great people, places and pieces of journalism that define sports in the 20th century, we have devoted this double issue to the images that will endure and continue to affect us for centuries to come.