Spring exerts its influences in odd as well as customary ways, in fever as in flowers. So perhaps a visitor to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED offices these days might well wonder what seasonal madness goes on when two men suddenly thrust fingers repeatedly at each other, meanwhile uttering incantations in a strange tongue. Born of baseball, the mysterious ritual has an explanation, forthcoming as an incidental attraction in next week's third annual Special Baseball Issue. But the main matter at hand is, of course, baseball itself. And for that the Baseball Issue will be, in fact and effect, a season-long score card and companion.
Roy Terrell leads off with an article—accompanied by vivid action photos—which takes a season-long view of both major leagues, evaluating the prospects and probabilities from the perspective of the leagues as units.
Thirty-two pages of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's traditional Scouting Reports follow. Based on the latest spring-training observations, here are the 16 clubs, their rosters, pictures of the players, strong points, weak spots, big ifs and over-all potentialities. This year's reports also include a critique of each club's sportscasters.
Of all dominant figures in baseball, none has a name more familiar than the Chicago Cubs' owner Phil Wrigley. But his personality and his personal convictions are something else again, as unfamiliar to the public at large as they are to many within baseball itself. This happens because that's the way Wrigley has always wanted it. In a closeup next week Writer Robert Boyle reveals that Wrigley is proud he was the first owner of a competing club to get through a World Series unphotographed. Such a man is understandably chary of story interviews. When he learned, however, of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's resolve to write about him, Wrigley sent Boyle an unprecedented invitation to visit him at his Phoenix, Arizona home. The rare result is Wrigley on the subject of Wrigley—and baseball.
Professional baseball has seldom been in a more transitional state, making major geographical moves and facing the problems of television and the minor leagues. On the eve of the new season Robert Creamer writes a critical analysis of its present position, not only interesting but important to those who care about baseball's future as both a game and a part of the American scene.
And baseball is never more, or more wonderfully, part of that scene than it will be on Opening Day next week when the umpire yells, "Play Ball!"