In the film Amadeus, the Emperor of Austria shows his musical ignorance when he comments with disgust that Mozart's work has "too many notes." When SI chief of correspondents Robin Douglas first saw this week's story schedule, which includes INSIDE BASEBALL, INSIDE THE NFL and the COLLEGE REPORT on football—our versions of what in the trade are called notes columns—she responded, "The more notes the better."
Given that three notes columns are more than we run in most issues, and given that collecting all the information that goes into them is her responsibility, Douglas would have been excused if she had echoed the emperor. However, even as 80 correspondents flooded her office with a total of more than 200 pages of files to augment the reporting of our three writers, she persevered with her usual smile.
"The secret to getting good—and prompt—files is keeping up with our correspondents, which isn't always easy," says Douglas. "Most of them have full-time newspaper jobs and spend a lot of time traveling with the teams they cover. Some I can call at the crack of dawn, but others work night shifts. Some you can find on their days off on the golf course, others on a tennis court."
Douglas, 35, came to SI back in 1982 by a rather unconventional career path. "I was walking through Central Park when a Softball rolled by," says Douglas. "I picked it up, and went over to where a bunch of women were playing and asked if they needed a player. It turned out to be a team with several players who worked at SI. By the end of the summer, I was the regular third baseman and I also had a job in the news bureau."
What goes modestly unexplained is Douglas's softball prowess. "Robin is a cross between Mike Schmidt and Wade Boggs," says senior reporter (and catcher) Joy Duckett Cain. "Power and consistency."
Douglas is much in demand on the diamond. Two weeks ago she traveled with one team to Wilmington, Del., for a slo-pitch tournament, and next month she will play for another slo-pitch team in a tournament in Tucson. Still, Douglas counts 1990 as a softball summer best forgotten, because the modified-fast-pitch team she plays on with some of her SI colleagues in the New York Show Business League finished a disappointing second. "I also didn't hit well—I was under .500," says Douglas.
For Douglas, hitting well is obviously a relative thing. A lot of people on the SI staff play softball, but our chief of correspondents is the only one ever to have been intentionally walked with the bases loaded.
The file on Douglas: hard-hitting and unflappable.