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Equipped with an 11-pound portable typewriter, two drip-dry shirts, a pair of black Edwardian boots and a blue Doctor Zhivago hat that he purchased near Times Square for $2.67, Associate Editor Frank Deford embarked last week on a trip that was a basketball buff's dream: he would see six college games in six days all over the United States (page 24).

The tight schedule was risky because a black cloud of bad weather seems to follow Deford around on his assignments, as on that dark day last season when he was driving through Idaho's Malad Gorge and got caught in a blizzard. This season an October snowstorm forced his Cincinnati-bound plane to land in St. Louis. He subsequently found 13 inches of snow in Louisville, snow and sleet in Lincoln, Neb., endless rain in San Francisco, snow, chilling rain and a flat tire in Providence and another blizzard in Chapel Hill, N.C. He endured a near-record Christmas Eve snowfall in Baltimore and even brought frost to Florida. Still, Deford was not worried about this odyssey. He felt the law of averages was about to work in his favor.

His confidence was shaken just three miles from his New York apartment. The Triborough Bridge was up, and he had not even known it was a drawbridge. Then his plane was held on the runway for two and a half hours because of a "malfunctioning landing-gear warning light." However, the rest of the trip was surprisingly smooth, the only real annoyance being a split in the rear seam of one of his boots; they were the only shoes he took along. At most points, sleep was a problem. After watching Montana play Weber State at Ogden, Utah Friday night, he drove to Salt Lake City, arriving there at 11 p.m., waited one and a half hours at the airport, flew to Omaha, Neb., slept four hours in a motel, flew to Kansas City and drove to Lawrence, Kans. for the Missouri-Kansas game Saturday afternoon. By this time the dark circles under his eyes were beginning to make him look like a raccoon, but he could still see to type.

Also in this issue we begin a four-part series on the life of Arnold Palmer, written by his friend and business associate, Mark McCormack. This is the 10th time Palmer has appeared on our cover. It is also one of the comparatively few times we have felt that a story was important enough to run in more than one installment. Later in the year Simon and Schuster will put the Palmer saga between hard covers, and we hope it will win as much acclaim as two other books: first introduced in the pages of SI: George Plimpton's Paper Lion, No. 3 on the latest nonfiction best-seller list, and Senior Editor Jack Olsen's Black Is Best: The Riddle of Cassius Clay, just out and being applauded by critics all over the country.