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Roy Terrell
Walter Bingham
March 26, 2007
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March 26, 2007

Roy Terrell


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THE SECOND issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, dated Aug. 23, 1954, reprinted a humorous newspaper column from the Corpus Christi Caller about horse psychiatrists. The author, one "Ray" Terrell, received $250 and an invitation to New York for a two-week writer's trial. Along the way SI's editors learned he had been a Marine fighter pilot in World War II—and that they'd misspelled his first name, which was really Roy.

They also learned that Terrell, who died of cancer last week at age 83, was the best all-purpose writer they had. Before long he was covering virtually every sport for SI. For long stretches his wife, Charlyne, and their four kids hardly saw him.

In 1963, Andre Laguerre, then in the early stages of his storied 14-year career as managing editor, tapped Terrell (above) to be his successor. Upon assuming the post in '74, Terrell raised the bar even higher for writing and reporting, and pushed back deadlines to allow for more news. (The cover of the April 15, 1974, issue shows Hank Aaron holding the 715th home run ball he had hit hours before SI's closing time.) As much as anyone Terrell helped make the magazine the successful enterprise it has become.

In 1979 Roy retired to Florida to play golf and tennis and to fish, activities at which he was nearly as good as many of the athletes he had written about. He kept tabs on SI and in '91 he wrote a column reminding younger fans to take a long view of sports history and not forget that there were great moments that came before their time. "I know," he wrote. "I've been there."

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