By Sterling Pingree- Sports Chowdah.com. My first issue of Sports Illustrated was delivered to my Nana Ping’s house in August of 1994. If you believe in destiny, and as a Boston fan the last 20 years I most certainly do, the first issue I received was the 40th anniversary issue which featured a replica of the very first magazine from August 16, 1954.
Nana got me my first subscription from a Boy Scout magazine drive, and the rest you could say is history: 25 years later I read and write about sports.
I have saved a lot of old issues of the magazine, all of the Boston covers (of which in the aforementioned 20 years there have been a plethora) and important events (the death of Mickey Mantle and the marathon bombing) and to those that know me it is of no surprise that I often go back and actually read these pieces of history.
I have some signed through the years and some older issues, I thought I had quite the collection, until I met my buddy John.
Waterville native John Beaupre has more than 1700 signed of Sports Illustrated.
“SI was my bible, I would literally wait at the mailbox each week. My dad had a subscription forever and I just devoured it.”
The appreciation found a new outlet around the turn of the century when John met a collector from Dallas named Tommy Donahue. Tommy is a big memorabilia guy who focuses on signed SI.
“Tommy got it all started, I thought that’s a cool way to pay tribute to this magazine that I’ve loved for so many years. I found there is quite a group of guys who strive to find everything. Scott Smith is regarded as The SI King. He has something like 95% of all issues signed. That’s the difference between collecting Sports Illustrated and any other memorabilia. It’s not just a baseball or a picture or a bat, it can be so random at times, which keeps you on your toes because you don’t know where the search may take you. I’m always on the lookout for people who have made the cover.”
Random it is, did you know that Bill Belichick has only graced the cover one time? (They photoshopped him as Santa……..Santa.) While Shirley MacLaine has carried a football in some sort of a habit on the cover once as well. (Imagine if they had photoshopped Belichick onto MacLlaine’s habit? That’ll make you beg for cut off sleeves and hoodies.)
“I’ve probably gotten about 1/3 of my collection through my own efforts, the other 2/3 are from members of the group.” Said John. The group he refers to is made up of people from all over the country who have made it their mission to leave no stone unturned to get some of the most unique issues signed by their subject. I’m not talking about Mark Bellhorn-unique. (Though he is on a cover.)
“Scott from New Jersey, Tommy from Dallas, Tim from Detroit, Bob from Pittsburgh and Nick from Connecticut have helped me tremendously build my collection. They’re into the search as much as I am and it’s been so much fun.”
What is left for someone like John?
“I love tracking down the really rare issues from the 50’s and early 60’s. Oh and I’d love to have each swimsuit issue done.”