Merv Hyman, now 65, went to work for TIME magazine on June 4, 1936 as a copy boy at $15 a week. On his first day, hoping to make a good impression, he went barreling down the hall, turned a corner like Herschel Walker, crashed into Henry R. Luce and impressed him to the floor. Luce was, of course, the founder of that magazine, as well as SI, from which Hyman retires this week as Time Inc.'s oldest employee in years of service—46. Hyman had been hired by TIME as a vacation fill-in, after which he planned to return to New York University. "Fall came," he said the other day, "and no one told me to leave, so I switched to night courses at NYU and stayed on. I never bothered to find out, but I may still be only a temporary employee."
Hyman came to work for SI in the pre-publication days of 1954, and spent 15 years as a writer, nine as chief of research and 4½ as assistant to the managing editor. Few journalists in America have a wider acquaintanceship among the men in positions of authority in intercollegiate athletics, Hyman's specialty. He has been our chief negotiator with collegiate and TV officials in matters having to do with lighting and photographers' positions at major events—concerns of which the public is unaware but which are vital to SI's fast four-color action photography.
All of that, however, fails to encompass what he's meant to so many of us personally. There has been no more receptive and empathetic ear for fellow staff members, whether they were seeking ways of overcoming writer's block or similar in-house problems, or looking for sound and friendly advice or help with outside matters.
Another thing you have to understand about Hyman is that he is somewhat more than ordinarily interested in sports. In the years he was working for TIME he also moonlighted as sports editor of his hometown weekly Press in Engle-wood, N.J., turning out a bylined column and two pages of news each issue, and ran a weekly radio sports show on WPAT, then in Paterson, N.J. While writing or administering departments for us, he rarely missed an NCAA or NIT basketball tournament, always caught a few bowl games, scouted hundreds of teams for our special preseason issues and coauthored books (with Gordon White of The New York Times) on football coaches Tom Cahill and Joe Paterno and on Big Ten football.
Hyman is proudest, though, of the accomplishments of the aspiring young journalists he hired at SI. Three are now SI senior editors, one is an associate editor, five are among our top writers and others are writing for newspapers around the country.
Henry Luce was celebrated for his remarkable skill at hiring people who would make his magazines so successful. Maybe that's why he didn't even reprimand Hyman when he picked himself up off the floor on that June day back in 1936.
MERV HYMAN: COMING OFF A 46-YEAR STREAK