Sports Illustrated Firsts

On Mondays, we usually venture into The New York Times archives to find the first time that newspaper covered various topics. But because Sports Illustrated just opened its content vault, we're devoting this week's installment to first mentions worth mentioning in SI.

Mike Tyson

January 6, 1986

Ready to Soar to the Very Top
mike-tyson.jpgThe first time Bobby Stewart saw Mike Tyson, two staff members of the Tryon School for Boys, a center for juvenile delinquents in upstate New York, were leading Tyson across the grounds toward Elmwood Cottage...It was 1979, and Tyson was only 13 years old, but he was already built like a tugboat—5-foot-8, 210 pounds—and he was in handcuffs.

"Even though he was 13, he could beat up most men," recalls Stewart, a former professional prizefighter. It had just taken two men to subdue Tyson after he had bullied and slapped around another boy at the school....Based on his third-grade reading level and a violent and sullen personality—"I had nothing to say to anyone," Tyson says—the youngster was thought to be mentally retarded, according to one school source.

Walking to Elmwood that day, Tyson found the fork in the road that would alter the direction of his life and lead him to where he is today. Where he is, at 19, is precisely 15 fights into a pro boxing career in which he has knocked out all his opponents....He is the most electrifying young heavyweight prospect in years.

Keep reading for Michael Jordan, 'John Madden Football,' Mary Lou Retton, Tiger Woods, Bill Walton, Bill Clinton and more.

Michael Jordan

January 18, 1982

The Creature Was too Much for The Giant
jordan-UNC.jpgJordan is that rare player who's able to fit into [Dean] Smith's system and still come on with his playground moves when they're most effective. "The best thing about Michael is that he pays attention," says Smith. "You tell him something and he does it. He's a freshman with a lot of pressure on him, yet I'd say he's taken no more than two bad shots the entire year. Defensively, of the five starters he's fifth, but that's mainly because the four others are so good."

A native of Wilmington, N.C., Jordan is widely thought of as one of those homegrown talents linked umbilically to the UNC campus. Not so. "I grew up hating North Carolina because I rooted for David Thompson and [North Carolina] State," he says. "I didn't like this place until I came here for basketball camp my junior year in high school." Despite his antipathy toward UNC, one of Jordan's heroes is former Tar Heel Walter Davis, with whom he is often, and accurately, compared, though Jordan will probably develop into a better rebounder—he's pulling down 5.3 a game—and defensive player.

John Madden Football

March 23, 1992

Step Aside, Coach
madden.jpg Because you finally broke down and bought the home video game system that you "“ er, your kids "“ had always wanted, your first choice for a football game should be John Madden Football '92 (Electronic Arts, $49.95) for the Sega Genesis. John Madden Football '92 is head and shoulder pads above all other video football games. The graphics are crisp, the sounds are authentic, and the play selections available are thorough enough to please the most sophisticated fan. Twenty-nine teams—26 from NFL cities, one each in Oakland and New Jersey and an All-Madden team—take the field. Because Electronic Arts doesn't have a licensing agreement with the NFL, the names of teams and players from the league couldn't be used. The loss is minimal. The Denver franchise in Madden '92 wears orange jerseys and blue helmets, plays in an outdoor cold-weather stadium and has a quarterback with a rifle arm. A Bronco by any other name....

Tiger Woods

March 25, 1991

Golf Cub: A mere 15, the precocious Eldrick (Tiger) Woods is already stalking the pros
tiger-1996.jpgTiger, a freshman at Western High in Anaheim, has been fending off the advances of the country's premier college programs ever since he got his first letter from Stanford, at age 13. But can he resist the lure of the Tour when he is already humbling the pros? "I plan to get my degree first," he says, "and then tear up the Tour."

These are brash words from a kid who shaves with tweezers....Tiger is reluctant to forecast his potential social impact. He knows that five years have passed since Calvin Peete became the last black golfer to win a Tour event. He is also aware that he could become the role model for a generation of golfers before he's eligible for his driver's license. But he resists being typecast as a racial pioneer. "I don't want to be the best black golfer on the Tour," Tiger says. "I want to be the best golfer on the Tour."

Mary Lou Retton

June 13, 1983

The Double Romanian Twist: Coached by Bela Karolyi, Nadia's ex, top U.S. prospects are flourishing
mary-lou-retton.jpgBela Karolyi defected to the U.S. in 1981 with a suitcase, leaving everything else behind, including an elegantly shabby old Mercedes, perhaps the only one in all of Transylvania. That ought to have provided a clue: A guy who'll do that must be up to something. Absolutely. Since then Karolyi has gained control of the best U.S. women gymnasts to come along in years, a pair of young competitors who hold such promise for world and Olympic triumph that it's a bit scary.
* * * * *
One should simply gaze in wonder upon Karolyi's Aerial Circus: Dianne Durham of Gary, Ind. and Mary Lou Retton of Fairmont, W. Va., both 15 and in their first appearances as seniors, one black, one white, both so dynamic they were the hit of last weekend's show—not an easy stunt to pull off in an arena full of high rollers. "No doubt about it, Bela's girls will be great" says Conner. "That is, if they can manage to stay inside their bodies between now and the Olympics."

Cal Ripken

March 22, 1982

Let's Play Ball, Dad
cal-ripken.jpgThe game seems to be in a family way this season, thanks mostly to these two rookies, Cal Ripken Jr., 21, and Terry Francona, 22, each born in the best season of his father's career, each about to make a name for himself. They are at the head of a bountiful baseball freshman class.
* * * * *
The Orioles had enough faith in Cal to trade Doug DeCinces to California for Outfielder Dan Ford over the winter, and third base is his to keep or lose. "He's the kind of kid you want coming out of your organization every three or four years," says Orioles Pitching Coach Ray Miller, Cal's manager in Puerto Rico the last two years. "He's a low-key guy whose voice doesn't carry, unlike his father, but he'll make people notice him. I just wish he were my kid."

Bill Clinton

July 27, 1992

clinton.jpgIt's Clinton in a (Near) Walk
Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton, who ran (so to speak) the 1.57-mile circuit [around New York City's Central Park Reservoir] in 25 minutes, or at a pace of nearly 16 minutes per mile. "The governor's jogging motto is, Start slow and taper off," said Clinton campaign strategist James Carville.


May 24, 1982

Whole New League, Whole New Season
USFL.jpgThey sat at this long table in New York City's "21" Club: 15 businessmen, all at the pinnacle of success, all apparently sane, all secure and powerful, all millionaires of varying multiples, with the richest said to possess nine-figure fortunes. And they declared with total sobriety and absolute seriousness that they were launching a new 12-team pro football league that, beginning in 1983, will play a 20-game Other Season from March through June, with a championship game in early July. And they announced that they plan not only to put almost all of their teams in NFL cities but also to play in many of the stadiums the NFL uses.

Martina Navratilova

February 24, 1975

A straight-up cool Martina: Only 18, this Czech really bounces
martina.jpgThe night before Martina Navratilova was to meet Chris Evert in the quarterfinals of the Virginia Slims tournament in Washington, D.C. three weeks ago, she did what any nervous young player might have done under the circumstances. She phoned home for some fatherly advice.

"Play drop shots on her backhand," said Mirek Navratil from Revnice, Czechoslovakia.

Martina then did what most youngsters do. "Forget it," she replied. "That way I'll lose 6-2, 6-3. I'll play drop shots on her forehand."

At 18, Martina Navratilova is still young enough to need reassurance from home, old enough to make her own decisions and good enough to have beaten the queen of tennis two weeks out of the last three.

Bill Walton

January 26, 1970

Faces in the Crowd
Walton-1973.jpgBill Walton, 6-foot-10½-inch senior at Helix High in LaMesa, Calif., was named MVP of the Covina Tournament after he scored a record 50 points and grabbed a record 34 rebounds as Helix defeated Pasadena High 110-68 for the title and its 31st straight win.

[Also featured in the same article: Tony Dungy. "Tony Dungy, 14, student president of Frost Junior High in Jackson, Mich., threw 23 touchdown passes over the past three seasons, is high scorer in basketball for the third straight year and has never been defeated in high and low hurdles and long jump in track."]

While wandering around The SI Vault, I found this 1983 cover. And as fate would have it, I have a Republican Georgetown alum friend with a wedding on the horizon. I hope 'framed Sports Illustrated covers' is on their registry.


We're moving into a new office in Brooklyn next month, and it won't decorate itself. If you can find an equally amusing cover from their collection and we decide it's worthy of a spot on our wall, I'll buy you the cover of your choice. You should be able to leave links in the comments if you omit the 'http://www' part.

Old News: Very Early Media Coverage of the GOP Candidates

Every week, I used to wander into the New York Times archives to find the first time the paper covered various topics (like The Walkman). In honor of tonight's Iowa Caucus, we're bringing back "The First Time News Was Fit to Print." Here are the first times The Times mentioned each of the remaining GOP candidates.

Mitt Romney

February 28, 1960

A Maverick Starts a New 'Crusade'
mitt-and-george.jpgGeorge Romney feels that he has pat across the compact car. Now he is turning his missionary fervor to a campaign to reshape American political institutions.

The man who made the compact car big competition for Detroit's land yachts is crusading against bigness on an even bigger scale these days. George Romney, the almost terrifyingly earnest head of the American Motors Corporation, has moved from his conquest of the gas-guzzling dinosaur into a battle to break up the concentration of economic power embodied in giant companies and giant unions.
He speaks with equal disrespect of the ranking politicians of both major parties when it comes to their readiness to face up to what he considers the make-or-break issues in America's survival.
George Romney considers talking his wife out of a movie career his greatest sales achievement. They are shown here with their children, Mitt, Jane and Scott.

[Well, not here. This picture is from two years later, when George announced he was running for President. To see the picture referenced here, you'll have to check out the original article.]

Ron Paul

April 28, 1976

Big Victory by Bentsen Called Vital to Re-election
John B. Connally, the popular former Democratic Governor [of Texas], was credited in 1970 with pushing Mr. [Lloyd] Bentsen to victory over Mr. [George] Bush [in the Senate race]. Mr. Connally, now a Republican, helped a politically unknown gynecologist, Dr. Ron Paul, upset a liberal Democrat, Bob Gammage, in a race last month to fill the unexpired 22d Congressional District seat vacated by Democrat Bob Casey, who has been appointed to the Federal Maritime Commission.

Rick Santorum

November 7, 1990

The 1990 Elections: State by State
In an upset, Representative Doug Walgren, a seven-term Democratic Congressman from Pittsburgh, lost to a political neophyte, Richard Santorum, a 32-year-old Republican lawyer who ran on an anti-incumbent theme.

Michele Bachmann

September 24, 2006

Campaign in Crisis Mode (by Charles Baxter)
While my assignment was to write about Minnesota’s important Senate race, I think there’s more to be learned right now from the far closer contest in Minnesota’s Sixth Congressional District, which borders Minneapolis-St. Paul to the east, north and west. The race, between Michele Bachmann, the Republican, and Patty Wetterling, the Democrat, has revealed a Bush-era national trend now visible locally.
Terrorism has infected every subject and every discussion, even locally. Alarmism has become so ubiquitous in discussions of Iraq, the decline of the family and financing for Social Security and education that polarization is assured. Extremity, after all, is more newsworthy than good sense.

This outlook has the effect of trivializing most local issues — who cares about farm-price supports when radical Muslims want to make Stillwater part of the caliphate? And it ensures that the volume will always be turned up to 11 — at least until everybody begins to suffer crisis fatigue and tries to calm down.

Newt Gingrich

November 2, 1974

Divided GOP in Georgia Facing a Rout on Tuesday
In another House race, however, Republicans may be able to take some comfort. In the state's Sixth District, suburban Atlanta, the 10-term Democratic mainstay who ran unopposed in 1972, faces a strong challenge from a 31-year-old history professor, Newt Gingrich. Although Mr. Flynt is favored, he is facing some difficulty because he is now running in a redrawn district in which his strength has not yet been tested.

[Note: Gingrich narrowly lost.]

Rick Perry

November 8, 1990

Farm Chief's Foe Has the Last Laugh
The Texas Agriculture Commissioner with the Borscht Belt sense of humor is out. Jim Hightower, a two-term incumbent known as an advocate of enlightened farming as well as one of the funniest figures in American politics, was defeated Tuesday by Rick Perry, a 40-year-old rancher and farmer.
Katie Dickie, Mr. Perry's press secretary, said today that her candidate "took a lot of angry farmers, banded them together, raised money in places like Garden City, Sterling City, the small places all across Texas, East Texas and West Texas."

She added, "Rick wants to refocus the department on mainstream agriculture."

Jon M. Huntsman, Jr.

July 22, 1998

Nova of Canada to Purchase Huntsman Styrene Business
The Nova Corporation of Canada will acquire the bulk of the styrene operations of the Huntsman Corporation for $860 million (United States) in cash and preferred stock, the companies announced yesterday.
For Huntsman, of Salt Lake City, the largest privately held chemical company in the United States, the deal represents a chance to pay down debt and to increase funds to homeless shelters and other charities that its ownership family has long supported.

In particular, it will let Huntsman funnel more than $100 million into research on genetic predispositions to cancer. Jon M. Huntsman [the candidate's father], the company's chairman, lost both his parents to cancer and has had two bouts with the disease himself.
Under the terms of yesterday's deal, Huntsman will receive $625 million in cash, and $235 million of nonvoting preferred shares, which can be converted to a maximum of 10 million common shares of Nova stock in two years. Nova will also assume $60 million of Huntsman's debt. After the deal, Huntsman will become Nova's largest shareholder.

Mr. Huntsman expects the two companies to combine some purchasing operations and to seek ways to combine product lines and operations. His son, Jon M. Hunstman Jr., will sit on Nova's board.

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10 Headlines from 9/11/01

We spent the summer of 2001 chastising Gary Condit, mourning Mr. Belvedere, and pardoning Microsoft. But on the second Tuesday of September, a mere twenty months after widespread wisecracks about the world ending on Y2K, it felt like the world did. I've been reading through the online archives of The New York Times from September 11, 2001, to see what was in the news the morning of the attacks. Here are some of the headlines:

1. Taliban Suicide Bombers Target Deposed Afghan Leaders

"If the would-be assassins were indeed Arabs, as the United Front asserted, the fact would lend credibility to those who contend that foreigners, including Osama bin Laden, are playing an ever bigger decision-making role among the Taliban."

2. Washington: Rumsfeld Attacks Bureaucracy

"Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said that he was declaring war on bureaucracy in the Pentagon and that he wanted to combine some civilian and military staffs, cut duplication in the military services and shift some jobs to the private sector."

3. Senator Joe Biden attacks President Bush on Missile Defense

"Mr. Biden has fastened onto missile defense as the centerpiece of his critique of Bush foreign policy. In part, that is because the system is almost the sole focus of the administration's foreign policy... 'Are we willing to end four decades of arms control agreements, and go it alone, a kind of bully nation, sometimes a little wrongheaded, but ready to make unilateral decisions in what we perceive to be our self-interest?' Mr. Biden said in his speech at the National Press Club."

4. Michael Jordan to Unretire (Again)?

"Jordan is either getting ready to return to the N.B.A. at the age of 38 or he is setting up the sports world for a letdown of legendary proportion. Either way, the drama builds. Speaking with three reporters, Jordan said he was less than 10 days away from a news conference in Washington announcing his decision."

5. Grand Jury Declines Request For Inquiry into Condit Matter

"A grand jury has rejected a flight attendant's request that it investigate her complaint that Representative Gary A. Condit obstructed justice by asking her to sign an affidavit falsely stating that they did not have an affair....Anne Marie Smith, 40, said that she and Mr. Condit had a 10-month romance and that his intermediaries tried to get her to sign an affidavit denying the affair....Ms. Smith's link with Mr. Condit became public after the disappearance in Washington of Chandra Ann Levy, a 24-year-old government intern from Modesto, on May 1. Mr. Condit, 53, is not considered a suspect in the disappearance, but he acknowledged having had a relationship with Ms. Levy."

6. Mayoral Candidates Crisscross City Seeking Last Few Votes

"The six major candidates running to succeed Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani ranged across the city yesterday in the final burst of politicking before the polls open today. Dodging late summer downpours, the candidates hit neighborhoods where they thought they might be able to eek out just a few more votes. Crossing and crisscrossing the boroughs -- sometimes missing one anothers' campaigns by just minutes -- it seemed as though the six candidates were out to shake every hand in the city."

7. Broncos Win Game, Lose Receiver

"The New York Giants did not upset the festive Denver atmosphere as the Broncos christened their noisy new home with a loud and thorough 31-20 rout. The game's outcome seem to hinge on a gruesome injury to Denver's Pro Bowl wide receiver Ed McCaffrey, who broke his lower left leg early in the third quarter."

8. Disco Near Auschwitz to Close

"The owner of a building now used as a disco but once a tannery where Nazis sorted the luggage and clothes of Jews at Auschwitz said he would not renew the club's lease when it expires in November."

9. U.S. Blacklists Paramilitaries in Colombia

"Being put on the State Department list of terrorist groups means that financial support for the organization is illegal. The action also makes it easier for the United States to seize assets, an important factor because investigators here estimate that the paramilitary groups have hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign bank accounts."

10. Thomas Friedman on Terror in Israel

"You drive south...and there is another long concrete wall blocking snipers from hitting Gilo, but also sealing in Gilo. There are Hebrew posters all over this wall that read: 'The New Middle East.' Some Israeli coffee shops now have security guards at the door to deter suicide bombers."

See previous installments of 'The First Time News Was Fit To Print.'


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