If ever a journalist was born to the pages of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, it's Stan Isaacs, whose parents provided him with, the perfect initials for the job and a childhood in sports-mad Brooklyn. The young S.I., whose column on televised golf coverage appears on page 88, became a self-described "sidewalk Olympian" and was, his mother says, "a walking encyclopedia of sports by 11."
Now 50 and a columnist for the Long Island paper Newsday, Isaacs first won journalistic notice when, while serving as sports editor of Brooklyn College's The Vanguard, he submitted a story to the old New York Star in which he referred to the school's football team as "a minor league Powerhouse." His editor thought that an unusually subtle line for a college boy—editors were more impressionable in those days—and on its merits hired Isaacs as a copyboy. The Star folded soon thereafter. Isaacs graduated in 1950 and was hired by New York's Daily Compass, which also went under, though not before Isaacs covered the game in which Bobby Thomson hit the famous home run that won the pennant for the Giants.
In 1954 Isaacs joined the staff of Newsday, only two months after SPORTS ILLUSTRATED published issue No. 1. The young S.I. had even sent in a suggestion for a name for the new sports magazine—Arena.
Isaacs' column this week is his sixth for us on TV and radio sports, and his current assignment for Newsday is a column called "TV Sports," which appears three times a week. He began writing it two years ago, after attending something like 20 World Series and seven Super Bowls. "By then I really knew the business of sports," he says, "and the exciting part of my new assignment was the television business." Earlier, during a stint as News-day's sports editor, Isaacs had advised his reporters at big games to phone the office, where the editors would be watching on TV. Isaacs recalls that "sometimes they would have seen something that our guy in the press box missed."
In his 25 years with Newsday Isaacs has achieved many distinctions—among them a National Headliners Award in 1963 for his writing—and his work appeared in 11 consecutive editions of the anthology Best Sports Stories of the Year. But he seems proudest of his annual April Fools' Day column, "The Isaacs Ratings of Esoteric Distinction." Isaacs, who claims to be "one of the world's great authorities on chocolate ice cream," has picked H‚Äö√†√∂¬¨√üagen-Daz as the best in that business. He has also rated statues of lions (The New York Public Library's are tops), odd names for players (Pretzels Pezzullo, the Phillies pitcher of the '30s, is his alltime favorite) and New England states—Isaacs' 19-year-old daughter, Ellyn, is a sophomore at Brown, so Rhode Island is currently No. 1. She works on the Brown Daily Herald, where, her father says, she is "a demon news reporter." S.I. also tells us she might be coming to New York in a few years to look for a job. Remember that name: Ellyn Isaacs. Hmm. Too bad her name isn't Sue.
ISAACS: SIDEWALK OLYMPIAN STILL AT IT