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Original Issue


Writer Myron Cope isn't really a Pink. He just pretended to be one for two days last May during the Memphis Open, because he wanted to find out how the Pinkertons police a sports event and because a golf tournament seemed like the event offering least promise of bodily injury. Cope easily survived the tournament and learned a lot about the Pinks' punctiliousness in protecting property and propriety. As Agent 26250 repeats on page 74, Pinkerton's Inc. has changed mightily since the days when it pursued outlaws across the badlands, trailed bank robbers to the jungles of Central America and spied behind Confederate lines.

At 5'5" and 142 pounds, Cope was not the biggest agent the Pinkertons had ever employed, but that does not mean it would have been safe for a hooligan to underestimate him. As a matter of fact, Cope is an erstwhile athlete whose career was cut short only by an unfortunate series of mishaps. For example, his promising future as a sandlot halfback was terminated after he was trampled unconscious by a 6'4", 270-pound opponent named Jelly Finn. And his American Legion baseball career disintegrated after he argued with the manager that he was ready to take over at second base. The regular second baseman was the manager's son.

He has had bigger success in sports journalism. Born in Pittsburgh and educated at Pitt, Cope was long a newspaperman before becoming a magazine writer. He wrote his first story for SI seven years ago. It described the brassy triumphs of former University of Pittsburgh Press Agent Carroll (Beano) Cook, a remarkable man indeed. "Beano," Myron wrote in what remains the definitive description, "has a cone-shaped head that is cropped like a boccie green, a prominent nose that directs him as unerringly as a radiator cap on a 1931 Duesenberg, and a backside which lends him enormous momentum when he is pointed toward a newspaper office."

Cope has covered stories for us in Mexico and Puerto Rico, but most of all he has demonstrated an extraordinary ability to capitalize on material close at hand. Beano is a good example. Another is the Murphys. In January of 1963 he unearthed a loud, corpulent basketball recruiter named Mossie Murphy, who in his devotion to Duquesne University kept thrusting star talent on the school while Duquesne Coach Red Manning kept shouting, "Get that fat boy out of my hair!" A few months later Cope turned up a Steeler scout named Fido Murphy, who claimed to have invented the T formation and who also declared, "I'm the best in the business at scouting opponents, but I can't tell you that because you'll think I'm nuts." The next time Cope visited SI, an editor tartly informed him: "We refuse to believe in the existence of whatever Murphy it is that you intend to sell us next."

The Murphys—not to mention Cook, Broadcasters Bob Prince and Howard Cosell—illustrate another characteristic of Cope's subjects: they are seldom reticent, particularly when forced to evaluate their own attributes. Cosell is the best and most recent example. Cope wrote an article that began with Cosell sighing, "Oh, this horizontal ladder of mediocrity. That's why I don't belong. I lack sufficient mediocrity." Cope managed the ultimate: a story that delighted both Cosell's admirers (of which he has a few) and Cosell's detractors, who are legion.

In short, it was a pretty story. Be-yoo-ti-ful, as most of Cope's subjects would say. Since Myron is now under contract to SI, readers can expect more stories in the future that are Cope-esthetic.