As of this September, it has now been 75 years since the first issue of SPORT magazine hit newsstands across North America. New York Yankees superstar and future husband of Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio, was debut cover boy alongside his son, "Little Joe."
The sports media landscape was a whole different world back in 1946. The first televised baseball game had arrived only seven years prior. Video coverage of the World Series would have to wait another year. Most families didn't have their own TV set in the '40s, and thus many would head to bars and other shared spaces to catch some baseball action. By the end of the decade, televisions were flying off the shelves, and fans across North America were seeing live action previously reserved to ticket holders.
SPORT was also on the cutting edge of sports media at the time. There had been other successful publications before, most notable The Sporting News, which was known then as the "Bible of Baseball." But even by the '40s, few had featured large colour spreads like SPORT. Now-famous photographer Ozzie Sweet took many of the early shots for SPORT, as did other leaders in the trade. The magazine came out monthly, which led to longer, more in-depth articles as well; George Plimpton and Grantland Rice were major contributors.
The timing of SPORT's birth was important for another reason: based out of New York, SPORT was on the pulse of American sport at the time, as the three N.Y.C. baseball teams – the Yankees, Dodgers, and Giants – were reaching great heights. But not only that, the late '40s saw Major League Baseball integrate, and SPORT was on the forefront of reporting on early African-American stars like Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby. Its well-researched, behind-the-scenes pieces allowed fans to better understand, and connect with, these groundbreaking stars.
By the '50s, SPORT was so popular that the heads at Time magazine came calling. They made an attempt to buy SPORT out, but, ultimately unsuccessful, Time decided instead to make their own publication, Sports Illustrated, which ended up debuting eight years after SPORT did, in 1954. Meanwhile, SPORT remained relevant in the '60s and '70s, featuring megastars like Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Jim Brown, Wilt Chamberlain, Muhammad Ali, and more.
By the '80s, however, SPORT began to fade, lacking the financial backing of its competitors. It still ran monthly and featured some notable players of the time, such as Wayne Gretzky and Michael Jordan, but, after seeing ownership switch hands multiple times, by 2000, SPORT's 54-year run came to an end. Today, SPORT lives on through our gallery, as we proudly work to maintain and promote its extensive photo archive.