If you liked the give-and-take between Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in the 1940 film His Girl Friday, you'd cotton to life around the Lido Beach, N.Y. home of SI reporter Sandy Keenan and her husband, Mike Winerip, a writer for The New York Times. While Walter Burns (Winerip) works in his upstairs office, Hildy Johnson (Keenan) sits in a four-foot-high director's chair at the basement bar and writes stories like this week's profile of LPGA Tour pro Pat Bradley (page 42). "We always end up arguing because we edit each other's stories and we never agree," says Keenan. Replies Winerip, "Sandy will try out a lead on me by passing it off as dinner conversation. She can't help telling me what she has discovered."
There's usually a lot to tell, for Keenan, 25, has a knack for drawing out her subjects. "I don't have any great secrets," says Keenan, whose main beat is baseball. "I just like to find things out that nobody else knows. All you have to do is take your subjects seriously and yourself not so seriously."
It helps to be a topnotch athlete. Keenan, who grew up in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, finished second in high school doubles tennis in 1975 and third in badminton in 1977. Her mother, Libby, a masters swimmer, swam 517 miles in 1982, and her father, Mike, is a three-hour marathoner. Sandy still swings a mean racket and, as evidenced here, cuts a smooth back spin.
After toying with the idea of college in California—"There's a lot of beach out there"—Keenan matriculated at Northwestern, a mile from home. There she played three years for the Wildcat women's tennis team, wrote for several Chicago-area publications and was a campus stringer for Time Inc. She also squeezed in a three-month internship at the Tucson Citizen. In 1981 she received a B.A. in journalism from Northwestern's renowned Medill School.
The Miami Herald beckoned—there's a lot of beach there, too—and Keenan spent two years writing sports, news and features. A Sunday magazine cover story on the downfall of Bill Hodges, who was Larry Bird's coach at Indiana State, caught our eye, and she came aboard in August 1983. "That was a good week," Keenan says. "Five days before I was offered the job, Mike proposed to me."
At home Keenan makes many of her own clothes, and she has four quilts in the works; three others hang on the walls. "Sandy can't do one thing at a time," her mother says. "There have to be concentric circles of activity."
That is, when she and Mike aren't having at it journalistically. Ask her why she writes at the bar in the basement, and she shoots back, "It's far away from Mike."
Life imitates art.