I think it was around 1963 when I first subscribed to Sports Illustrated. I was so excited because it was the first time something started coming in the mail that was addressed to me. I sent in $3.95 and the people at Sports Illustrated send me a letter thanking me for subscribing and promising that I would look forward to my issue arriving each week.
And, they were right too. One week Bart Starr was on the cover and since the Green Bay Packers were my favorite team, I was thrilled. I took a very sharp knife and carefully cut along the left edge of Bart Starr’s picture and taped it to my wall. I did the same thing with Mickey Mantle’s picture and Whitey Ford too.
We hit a little bump in the road the next winter when it was time to renew my subscription. They sent me a reminder and I sent in another $3.95 assuming I wouldn’t miss one issue. Boy was I wrong. All of a sudden, Tuesday came around and when I got home from school… no Sports Illustrated. I figured missing one week was probably normal when you renew and all, so I didn’t think much about it. But after a couple more weeks I figured my hopes of seeing another issue were diminishing fast and that I might not ever see my $3.95 again either. So, I sat down and wrote my first real business letter.
We had an electric Smith-Corona typewriter that sounded like a .22 rifle going off when you hit a key. I wrote a kind but firm letter to the publisher of Sports Illustrated. I found his name inside the front cover of the magazine. I told him that I really enjoyed his magazine, but that somehow he had messed up my renewal and still had my $3.95. I told him that that was a lot of money to an 11-year-old and that if I didn’t starting getting the magazine soon, I wanted my money back pronto.
A couple weeks went by and I got a real official looking letter from the publisher of Sports Illustrated. He couldn’t have been nicer and apologized for my inconvenience. He said not only did he personally find where the problem was, but instructed his people to add 6 months to my subscription at no charge. That is what you call customer satisfaction, and I’ve been getting Sports Illustrated ever since.
It wasn’t but a couple of months later that Sports Illustrated put out its first swimsuit issue. (pictued above) I checked today and it was January 24, 1964. Lyndon Johnson was President and we hadn’t yet heard much about Vietnam. I do remember getting home from school and my Mom meeting me at the door. She was holding that issue in her hand. There she was on the cover, some lady named Babette March in a two-piece white swimsuit. Mom asked; “Exactly what does this have to do with sports?” I could answer that today, but I couldn’t in January of 1964. I’d never heard of Babette March, but she sure looked interesting.
Funny how things don’t change much. When I climbed in bed last night, my wife said, “Oh, the swimsuit issue arrived today, I’ll throw it out if you want me to.” I said, “Oh, I’ll throw it out, but thanks.” Before I tossed it in the trash, I noticed the girl on this year’s cover is named Brooklyn Decker. I’m not sure what she has to do with sports either, but she looks like a very nice person, and that ought to be worth something, don’t you think?
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