Robert Creamer was an SI original in more ways than one
Creamer, part of the founding staff at Sports Illustrated, died Tuesday
He was the magazine's star baseball writer in the '50s and a longtime editor
He wrote what is considered the definitive biography of Babe Ruth
Robert Creamer, whose name has been on every one of this magazine's mastheads since its first issue on August 16, 1954, died Wednesday at 90. He had five children, six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren and those of us who had the privilege of working with him remember him as a writer and later editor who helped establish the magazine's reputation for excellence.
As a writer, Bob primarily covered baseball. His first story, which appeared in the magazine's second issue, was about the New York Yankees' quest for a sixth straight American League pennant. He was relegated to a seat in Yankee Stadium, since writers for the fledgling magazine were not yet allowed in the press box. His obvious talent and his friendly demeanor helped break down the early antipathy sportswriters of that day felt toward the upstart magazine.
Creamer later wrote biographies on Babe Ruth -- Babe: The Legend Comes to Life -- and Casey Stengel -- Stengel: His Life and Times -- the former considered the definitive book about the Yankee legend. Among his other books was Baseball in '41, about the magical season of Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio and the Brooklyn Dodgers in baseball's last pre-war season (Creamer himself later served in the Army during World War II).
Creamer eventually moved to editing, where he became articles editor, responsible for finding and nurturing outside writers who contributed to the magazine. He retired in 1985.
As an editor, he was not unlike an avuncular college professor. He would show you his edited version of your story and patiently point out why he had made every change. For a young writer, it was an advanced course in journalism. Remarkably, on points of dispute, he would not hesitate to yield if he felt that perhaps he had been hasty.
They don't make them like that anymore.
Walter Bingham, a longtime SI staffer, is a now a Special Contributor to the magazine