In August 1954 when the first issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED was published, for an audience not particularly breathless with anticipation, one group of fans was indeed holding its collective breath. That was the small staff of men and women who had spent many months testing the waters—putting out dummy issues of what would become the foremost weekly sports magazine in the United States. In that group was a feisty young woman—she's feisty to this day—named Eleanore Milosovic. This week Milosovic becomes the last of those prepublication pioneers to retire from the staff of SI.
"What I recall most from those times," says Milosovic, "is the daylong excitement—every day—of participating in a new venture. And what I appreciate most now is the opportunity I had to grow up professionally under some superb journalists."
Milosovic herself kept a key aspect of Time Inc. tradition alive: Many a staffer high up on today's masthead got enduring and useful instructions from her on the journalistic virtues of clarity, brevity and accuracy. And they suffered her censure when they didn't learn quickly enough or when they took their instruction too lightly.
Over the years Milosovic has probably made more friends for the magazine in widely scattered places around the world than anyone else. She has hired or worked with every one of the hundreds of special correspondents around the U.S. who have served the magazine since 1954, and she has been SI's link to the Time Inc. bureaus in 22 foreign countries. They're all her friends, and so are their wives/husbands, children and pets. If they weren't, it wouldn't have been possible all these years for Milosovic to get them on the phone at 4 a.m. in Nairobi or New Orleans, and ask them to dig up some facts for a fast-closing story and to file their reports within hours.
And even though the magazine's deadline pressure has been lifted from her life, Milosovic finds herself with one immediate goal. "For 25 years I've been trying to get to the Metropolitan Museum of Art," she says. "I just want to spend one full day there."
Back in 1974 in Greensboro, N.C., Milosovic started her own SI tradition. She was the hostess at a party for sportswriters and basketball coaches at that and every succeeding NCAA Final Four tournament; an invitation to it became a more sought-after prize than mere tickets to the games themselves. No doubt there are going to be some glasses raised in farewell to her at the Dallas Final Four in March—also around here and in other places where SI correspondents work and gather. Thanks, Eleanore, for 31 years of real professionalism.