On June 1 Golf Writer Alfred Wright (page 28) will be leaving SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's New York office to take on a new assignment for us in Los Angeles. It's a return-of-the-native thing, because Al was born and raised in Los Angeles. He went East to attend Yale back in the '30s, but after graduation he returned to California for graduate work. And, though he first went to work for Time Inc. in 1936, he was seldom based in New York until he came to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED in 1955. Before that he had been mostly in places like London and San Francisco, for TIME, and the South Pacific, flying dive bombers for the U.S. Navy.
It took Al pretty nearly all the years he has been with this magazine to figure out where to live happily on the East Coast ("on a little potato farm way out on Long Island, in the prettiest country you'd ever want to see"), at which point, of course, we decided we needed him in L.A. Still, he is pleased with his new assignment. He will be concentrating on the West Coast sporting scene and doing special stories for us that will benefit to a significant degree from his particular knowledge of the area. He is looking forward to the luxury of doing the kind of writing that permits a man a decent amount of time to walk back and forth between paragraphs and look out the window at trees now and then. In covering golf, with tournaments almost always ending on Sunday, Al frequently found himself writing all night through in order to meet our deadline. That is not a unique chore around here, but it is an exhausting one, and, as Al observes, "The older you get the harder it is to stay up all night."
Nor is Wright reluctant to give up the golf beat, though he has a strong and lasting affection for the sport. "I've been writing about it for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED since 1960," he points out, "and that means I've been through an entire era. Palmer and Player were just coming to the top then, and Nicklaus hadn't even appeared yet. Now a new wave of golfers is coming up, and a new era may be in the making."
And so Al Wright climbs on his jet and rides west into the sunset. For those of us here in the New York office, things are going to be a little different now. Al was our prime authority on such diverse subjects as the Social Register, John O'Hara and the old days in Hollywood. He could reminisce about good times with Humphrey Bogart and Mike Romanoff, Evelyn Waugh and C. S. Lewis, Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley, and we don't know anyone else who used to play Ping-Pong with W. C. Fields or who married Joan Fontaine. When Truman Capote gives another Party of the Year, will he invite anyone else from our staff to the affair? Except for visits from George Plimpton, we may have lost our contact with Glamour.
Even more, we are losing the amiable, daily presence of Al Wright himself. We will miss him—wandering casually around the office in shirtsleeves and sweater vest, carrying his chipped coffee mug with the hand-painted skull and bones and telling his wonderful stories. But we will look forward to his perceptive, sensitive essays—written, perhaps, in tranquillity, but concerning themselves with the nation's most kaleidoscopic and vital sports scene.
WRIGHT IN HIS NATIVE HABITAT