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There's never any doubt about when the baseball season ends. It ends in a split second with the final play of a World Series—as it ended last fall when Hodges held a throw from Reese, nine Dodgers exultantly left their feet and 90 million fans across the country rose to theirs.

Nor is there any doubt about when the baseball season starts. Little more than a month from now, half a thousand players will take over the diamonds in eight different cities. Eight umpires will cry, "Play ball!" And once more the great national drama will be on its exciting way.

But it takes some getting ready for, hardly less by spectators than by players. So it's in this issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED—as winter's sports move toward their finales, the snow melts on many cinder tracks, and fishermen look over their equipment with anticipation—that Bob Creamer sends the first of his weekly reports from baseball's training camps. It's part of the spring training schedule that SI's editors have planned, as carefully as any coach, trainer or manager, to bring you to opening day in top condition for the first pitch.

Last week Gerald Holland let you bask in the optimism of the training-camp spectacle. And Robert Coughlan concluded his analysis of baseball's business world, which preoccupies both player and executive the whole winter long. These were early notes in a season of journalistic pleasures for anyone who recognizes the drawing above. Soon, through a new CONVERSATION PIECE, each major league's MVP, Yogi Berra of the Yankees and Roy Campanella of the Dodgers, will discuss the tricks of their trade together. You'll read an illustrated article on the art of baseball, designed to make sense to the casual spectator as well as to Casey Stengel. You'll see something you can get nowhere else: a 17-page section of SI's own scouting reports and evaluations of all the teams in major league baseball.

And because there is so much to say about this game, SI will be saying it not only every week—but also in a special baseball issue, planned for the eve of the season, bearing on its cover the object illustrated above.