When Jim Murray filed the story in this issue which accompanies the four color pages on the Ellsworth Ranch—the childhood stamping ground of the distinguished Californian on SI's cover this week—he could not let the occasion pass without pointing out that Swaps is the 11th Californian to grace our cover in 49 issues.* As a loyal Californian himself (by way of Hartford, Conn.), Murray finds nothing disproportionate in this fact.
"To begin where we are," he wrote, "California has the last two Kentucky Derby winners, Swaps and Determine. And the world's leading jockey, Willie Shoemaker. California holds 12 world's records in horse racing from three furlongs (straight course) to three miles, if you include Farragut's 5:15 mark in 1941 at Agua Caliente, which after all is close enough to be claimed by expansionist Californians.
"H. Allen Smith has already noted in SI (May 9) that we have probably supplied the largest one-state bloc of major league baseball players from 1934 to date. He seemed surprised. I don't know why. Where else would you find three DiMaggios?
"California has had fly-casting champions; the national horseshoe-pitching champion; the 1954 national public links champion; the outstanding college track and field team of all time (USC); so many world and Olympic record holders that we'd be all afternoon listing them; six national figure-skating champions; the 1954 football coach of the year, Red Sanders, and the team of the year, UCLA; the most talked-of fighter in the country, Archie Moore; the 1954 bicycle champions in the half-mile, five-mile and ten-mile events; and everyone knows about California and tennis from May Bundy to Helen Wills to Beverly Fleitz to Louise Brough, not to mention Jack Kramer. In basketball we have the NCAA champs, the University of San Francisco; in golf, native son Gene Littler. And they all, including Jack Fleck, come here to start each year with the L.A. Open.
"In short, for sports there's no place in the world like California. And it goes on all the year round, in the mountains, the lakes, the fields, the stadiums and the ocean."
Jim Murray's attitude is typical of the enthusiasm of Californians for their state, for their sports and, I am happy to say, for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.
* Others: Ed Mathews, Y. A. Tittle, Ken Sears, Jill Kinmont, Joe Alston, Parry O'Brien, Leo Durocher and Laraine Day, Zale Parry, Duke Snider, Kippax Fearnought.