Harry Clifton “Curley” Byrd built his reputation on the football and baseball fields long before becoming a university president. His tenure at Maryland was marked as much by the growth of the athletics program as the university itself. So it’s no surprise that in 1954 when Time, Inc., was testing out a new sports magazine, they sought his advice. Shirley Potash of Time, Inc., sent Byrd the magazines on the recommendation of Richard Boutelle, of the Fairfield Engine and Airplane Corp. in Hagerstown.
Titled “Dummy” at the time, the sample magazines covered everything from fishing to baseball to table tennis. Stunning photography mixed with long-form articles and classic 1950s advertisements.
In response, Byrd wrote “The magazine, I believe, will fill a real need, and will provide a source of pleasure and benefit to all those who participate, or who follow, the world of sports.” Byrd wasn’t far off, as Time, Inc., found some success with this new venture, under a more appropriate name–Sports Illustrated.
This correspondence and the copies of the preview issues of SI appear in Byrd’s presidential papers in the University of Maryland Archives. Visit the Archives in Hornbake Library to check out “Dummy.”