Inspired: Sports Illustrated uses fan photos for 60th anniversary cover

Nicely done by Sports Illustrated.

From the magazine.


For its 60th anniversary cover, Sports Illustrated asked readers to submit photos of themselves playing a sport, being a fan or wearing their favorite team’s gear.

The photos from thousands of people who responded were used in a photomosaic recreation of SI’s first cover, from Aug. 16, 1954, which featured Milwaukee Braves third baseman Eddie Mathews, New York Giants catcher Wes Westrum and umpire Augie Donatelli.

The photomosaic anniversary cover, which features 1,596 photos, seemed like an out-of-the box idea, but it was a logical choice.

“In thinking about what we should do about this cover, we really wanted to make it less about us and more about the people that read the magazine,” Chris Hercik, Sports Illustrated Sports Group’s Creative Director, said. “It’s about doing something different. This mosaic was weeks in the making, but the bottom line is that we wanted to celebrate the sports fan.”

Over 3,069 covers in the last 60 years – some iconic, some head-scratching, some controversial – Sports Illustrated’s main focus through its storytelling and photos was to engage readers, provide thought-provoking commentary and inform. Although society at large has changed, fans’ thirst for sports has not.

Featured in this issue are a look back on the sports landscape over the last six decades, a feature on new Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt and some of SI’s cover regrets.

SI’s Steve Rushin takes readers on a journey through the eyes of Los Angeles Dodgers legendary announcer Vin Scully, who is in his 65th year of broadcasting, as Scully navigates the team’s move from Brooklyn, sees athletes come to earn huge salaries because of television contracts and experiences social media changing the way the fans engage the athletes they are cheering for (or against).

Rushin sums up the last six decades: “And so anyone who wants to understand the last 60 years in sports, the journey from the Regency TR-1 to the iPhone5s, who do well to stop at Dodger Stadium, high atop Chavez Revine. Vin embodies changes on the field, changes in technology, changes in the economics of sports. And all of that in a guy who may be the best storyteller in the history of broadcasting.”

Scully will call the Dodgers game against the Milwaukee Brewers this year on Aug. 16, just as he did sixty years ago when the Brooklyn Dodgers played the Philadelphia Phillies on Aug. 16, 1954.

“Sixty years and a continent separate those two games,” Rushin writes, “between which everything changed and – he (Scully) is quick to say, surveying that beautiful ball field – ‘nothing much has changed at all.'”


Also, Richard Rothschild, writing at, reviews the sports landscape in 1954 when Sports Illustrated made its debut.

Imagine a sports landscape ruled by baseball, where college football is more popular than the National Football League, horse racing and boxing draw bigger interest than either pro or college basketball and the year’s signature athletic achievement takes place on a track in Oxford, England.

There are as many major league teams in upstate New York as on the entire West Coast and only two franchises west of St. Louis. There are two big league baseball clubs in Philadelphia, two NFL teams in Chicago and NBA franchises in Syracuse, Rochester and Fort Wayne, Indiana. There are no major league sports in Miami, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Denver or Seattle.

Such was the state of athletics when Sports Illustrated printed its first edition 60 years ago on Aug. 16, 1954. Legends Joe DiMaggio, Joe Louis, Sammy Baugh and Bob Mathias were recently retired. Contemporary champions Rocky Marciano, George Mikan and Otto Graham soon would join them on the sidelines.





One thought on “Inspired: Sports Illustrated uses fan photos for 60th anniversary cover

  1. An interesting, if meandering, essay by Rushin, but it wouldn’t have been a bad idea, somewhere across 26 pages, to have mentioned Andre Laguerre, who took the reins of the faltering SI in 1960 and turned it into the magazine we know today.

    Then again, Rushin was wrong about the 1981 assassination attempt on Pres. Reagan – the three networks stayed with the coverage rather than, as he wrote, going back to soap operas. SI used to have better essayists – Frank Deford, for one – and fact-checkers.

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