A constant pleasure in publishing a weekly sports magazine is getting to know in person many of the stars on whom we report in print. It frequently follows, as a welcome extracurricular activity, that SPORTS ILLUSTRATED is asked to arrange for their appearance on radio and television.
The programs are sometimes national, sometimes local. SPORTS ILLUSTRATED likes them both ways. The latest with a local focus is a series of six one-hour shows over WBKB-TV in Chicago. Called the Sports Illustrated Spectacular, they grew out of conversations between this magazine and Sol Polk, President of Polk Bros., the well-known Chicago retail appliance dealers. Joining in the production of this series is the Chicago Junior Chamber of Commerce; it also has the wholehearted support of Chicago's Mayor Richard J. Daley and the Chairman of the Chicago Youth Commission, Alfred J. Cilella. Each Spectacular takes up a phase of physical fitness; and the series highlights for citizens of Chicagoland the national problem of fitness and what to do about it.
The opening program came on Saturday, December 14. With Sportscaster Vince Scully presiding as master of ceremonies, the fast-moving show presented sports stars demonstrating their specialties and explaining their own particular "secrets" for keeping in shape to perform them. On hand from the local scene were names associated with Chicago teams: Ernie Banks of the Chicago Cubs, Al Smith of the White Sox, Johnny Lujack and Harlon Hill of the Bears, Paul Christman and Don Stonesifer of the Cardinals and Johnny Mariucci of the Black Hawks. Decathlon Champion Bob Mathias put six youngsters through some YMCA achievement tests; Bonnie Prudden and a squad of young girls displayed part of the Prudden routine. Adding comedy to an essentially serious subject was baseball's famous clown, Max Patkin.
Featuring Sportscaster Al Heifer, the second Spectacular (10 a.m., CST, this Saturday, Jan. 18) will discuss how fitness can be both preached and practiced in the home. The show's "regular," Bonnie Prudden, will be aided and abetted once again, more or less, by Max Patkin; and special guests include our Sportsman of the Year, Stan Musial, and the great White Sox left-hander, Billy Pierce.
Speaking of the series, civic-minded Sol Polk has said, "The total message is to stimulate Mom, Dad and the kids to mutual appreciation of the importance of keeping physically fit plus the fun of keeping fit together." It's a message which SPORTS ILLUSTRATED is happy to have a part in telling, not just this week in Chicago—but every week, all over the country.