The prize for being named National Sportswriter of the Year is a
personalized Louisville Slugger, which explains why senior writer
Rick Reilly owns more good wood than Geppetto. Last month Reilly
won the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association's
award for the ninth time, second only to legendary Los Angeles
Times columnist Jim Murray, who had 14. "I love this award
because it's voted on by my peers, the guys who have to write
columns in press busses with Japanese photographers falling
asleep on their arm," Reilly says. "They know how hard this job
Reilly's columns ranged last year from the hilarious (an
interview with Robin Williams) to the sublime (Anderson, S.C.,
high school runner Ben Comen, who competes despite cerebral
palsy). What makes a good Reilly column? Even Reilly can't say
for sure; some weeks he hashes out three or four ideas before one
works. "Someday I'll publish the others," he says. "The book will
be called The Ones That Sucked."
Awards season has been kind to SI. Senior writer Steve Rushin
received his fourth National Magazine Award nomination, in the
Columns and Commentary category. (The winner will be named in
May.) One column that earned him the honor, "My Big Fat Sports
Wedding," was a recap of his love-at-first-height romance with
former Connecticut and WNBA star Rebecca Lobo. (She stands 6'4"
to his 6'5".) Rushin gets the occasional assist from his wife
when brainstorming ideas, but Lobo didn't see his account of
their courtship until they were on a minihoneymoon in Boston last
April. "She picked it up at a newsstand and read it as we
walked," Rushin says. "I thought she was overcome with emotion,
but it may have been the bus fumes on Newbury Street."
A less blissful union was the focus of "All My Exes Wear
Rolexes," a feature on golfer John Daly for which staff writer
Seth Davis won first place in the non-daily-news category at the
Golf Writers Association of America's annual awards. Davis, who
also writes SI's college basketball column and can be seen as a
studio analyst for NCAA tournament coverage on CBS, found Daly to
be painfully candid about his fourth wife, Sherrie Miller, who
was arrested on federal money laundering charges last summer.
(The case is pending.)
It wasn't only SI writers who picked up honors. Photographer Bob
Rosato won first place in the Missouri School of Journalism's
2003 Picture of the Year competition for his shot of the home
plate collision between the Giants' J.T. Snow and Marlins catcher
Ivan Rodriguez that ended the National League Division Series.
Rosato had the sports magazine division's second-place finisher,
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (REILLY) FAMILIAR RING Reilly wins again.
COLOR PHOTO: MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY (2) Rushin
COLOR PHOTO: MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY (2) Davis
COLOR PHOTO: BRETT HANSBAUER/BRSP (ROSATO) Rosato