Around our offices, director of communications Art Berke is known principally for three things: an abiding fealty to the Chicago White Sox; a similar devotion to the Indiana Hoosiers basketball team; and an all-purpose, never-fail conversation-igniting game called Who'd Ya Rather Be?
"Who'd ya rather be?" Berke will say, buttonholing a colleague, "Gale Sayers, Sandy Koufax or Bill Walton?"
There's no winner or loser in this game, it's just Berke's way of steering talk around to the passion that has become his vocation—sports. "Sports is who I am as much as it's what I do," he says.
Long before we started paying him to say so, Berke considered the cover of this magazine a sacred place. He has three SI covers gracing a wall in his office, and each recalls an earlier chapter in his life. One is a Nellie Fox-Luis Aparicio cover from the late-1950s heyday of the White Sox, whom Berke learned to love while growing up in Gary, Ind. Another cover, of '79 vintage, celebrates the vaunted Hoosiers of that year. (Berke edited sports for the Indiana Daily Student during the late '60s.) The third cover, of Howard Cosell in '83, reminds Berke of his eight years at ABC Television.
Berke, who supervises a staff of six, is responsible for all our public relations efforts—from publicizing our Sportsman of the Year to recognizing each week's FACES IN THE CROWD; from responding to media inquiries to finding creative ways to spread our name through the world of sports. A recent project was assembling the 24 sports notables who helped us mark our 35th anniversary and introducing each at a luncheon. The day was full of unforgettable moments, not least of which was seeing Archie Griffin, who was born the same week in 1954 that SI was, meet Archie Moore. "My folks named me after you," Archie G. told Archie M.
Berke has written five books, including, of course, This Date in Chicago White Sox History. He and his wife, Bonnie, who matches Art's passion for sports with her own for fitness, make their home in Secaucus, N J.
All things considered, who would he rather be?
"Nobody else," he says.
P.S. As you may know, Time Inc. Magazines will launch a new magazine in February titled ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY. Please take note of the special supplement on page 39 of this issue.
Berke's passions fit hand in glove with his work.