In the advance planning and scheduling of magazine covers we sometimes find it necessary, as the seasons roll along, to remind ourselves by means of a checklist that this sport or that sport is almost upon us once again. It is difficult, for example, to convince oneself in mid-July that sailboats will not always be on the water nor will the fairways always be quite so green, and that mid-July, in fact is the time to be thinking about football. Oddly enough we seldom have this problem in mid-February. The itch to go South begins scratching its way through the offices and along the halls, and soon the image of a big league baseball is mirrored in every ice-bound editor's eyes.
In recognition of the fact that readers are similarly afflicted, we traditionally produce our first baseball cover of the year early in March, and this March we could think of no more logical cover subject than the Philadelphia Phillies. For one thing, Bill Leggett's account of Philadelphia's dramatic rise and shocking collapse during the 1964 season occupies a major section of this week's issue (pages 52-63); for another, no team has higher hopes for the season ahead. To capture this dual symbolism of old and new we decided to photograph Pitchers Jim Bunning and Bo Belinsky. We are pleased with the results, which were not quite so easily achieved as might be supposed.
Bunning, the Phils' big pitcher last year and the man who threw a perfect game against the Mets, was eating and speaking a circuitous banquet route around the country. Belinsky, the pool-playing ex-Angel, was living it up on the beaches and in the billiard parlors of Waikiki. Despite the distance, Belinsky was the easier of the two to nail down; for one thing, he is an extremely cooperative man despite all the stories about his supposedly pugnacious personality, and for another, Bo Belinsky is always ready to go somewhere. So he hopped in a plane and flew 6,000 miles to New York.
Bunning's problem was more complex. The cover was to be shot in New York on a Wednesday. Bunning was to be in Philadelphia on Monday night, in Harrisburg, Pa. on Tuesday night and in Cincinnati on Wednesday night. But Bunning, who is also cooperative in a less flamboyant way, drove 100 miles back to Philadelphia following the Harrisburg dinner, grabbed a couple of hours' sleep, arose early, caught a train to New York and met Belinsky and Photographer Tony Triolo in time to 1) pose and 2) catch an afternoon plane to Cincinnati.
According to Triolo and Deputy Picture Editor George Bloodgood, who was charged with solving all the complicated logistical problems, B&B were easy to work with. "I asked them to be natural," Tony explained. "So Bo asked Jim how he pitched to Willie Mays, and they talked baseball the rest of the time."
Except once. Belinsky mildly questioned Triolo about one pose, wondering whether it would look right. "Don't worry about it," Triolo comforted him. "I know what I'm doing. Look, do I tell you guys how to load up a wet one?"
A wet one, of course, is a spitball, the illegal pitch all pitchers are occasionally accused of throwing. Belinsky grinned then, but later he got even. He took Triolo, no mean pool player himself, out for a little game. Tony came back to the office shaken. "Beat me 50-3," he muttered.