Among its many distinctions, California can lay claim to being the most sports-minded state in the nation. Indeed, scarcely an issue of this magazine does not contain at least one California story. This week there are two, Alfred Wright's report on the Crosby Open and Coles Phinizy's account of the fight between skiers and conservationists over Mt. San Gorgonio.
One barometer of California's interest in sports is that more of its citizens subscribe to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED than do those in any other state. Another is its sheer volume of athletic activity, so massive that local radio stations are almost too busy reporting sports events to squeeze in rock 'n' roll music (about surfing) and commercials (advertising golf balls). It is significant that an important political issue of California's last election, the pay-TV referendum, was keyed to the availability of free televised coverage of baseball games.
Just last week, in addition to the Crosby, Californians were watching the Los Angeles Invitational track meet; UCLA's basketball team, ranked first in the country; the San Miguel Handicap at Santa Anita; the Los Angeles Boat Show; the Riverside 500; and the Golden Gate Kennel Club Show, in which 1,852 dogs were entered. The state has 10 professional teams in four major sports, twice as many as any other: Giants, Dodgers, Angels, 49ers, Rams, Raiders, Chargers, Blades, Warriors and Lakers.
To mine this sports bonanza, SI maintains two permanent correspondents, supplements their coverage with short weekly visits by staff members. These California anchormen are Art Rosenbaum in San Francisco and Jack Tobin in Los Angeles. San Francisco Chronicle Sports Editor Rosenbaum is a native, educated at the University of California and at San Francisco Stale. His stories have appeared in Best Sports nine times, and he was co-author of The Giants of San Francisco. He is married, has one married daughter and a 15 golf handicap.
Even more herculean than Rosenbaum's tasks in San Francisco are those of Jack Tobin in Los Angeles. Southern California is a multiheaded monster in sports as in most other respects, and it is a lucky thing Tobin loves it. Reporting for SI, he has been exposed to liberal doses of stock car racing, go-karting (in Mexico, even), body surfing, lawn bowling (with Walt Disney), archery, skate boarding, skin diving and slot racing. From freeway to Furnace Creek, from Death Alley to Death Valley, Tobin has had to dodge flood, forest fire and Walter O'Malley to complete his assignments. In the course of his appointed rounds he once wrapped his car around an orange tree on what was to become the state's most famous piece of real estate—Disneyland. Another time, when he got lost in the arid reaches of Culver City, the man at the gas station who gave him directions turned out to be Clark Gable. Still, Tobin remains capable of saying, quite seriously, "the best life begins and ends within the county of Los Angeles," a phenomenon explainable only by his having been born in Huron, S. Dak. in a blizzard (he says). An alumnus of Long Beach Junior City College, Notre Dame and UCLA, Tobin has written for the Press-Telegram, the Mirror and the Times, all of Los Angeles. He lives with his wife and his son on the beach at Playa del Rey. The surfing is good.
LOS ANGELES CORRESPONDENT TOBIN