NEWS FROM THE NATIONAL
He was the first athlete to appear on the cover of TIME magazine. Now, the original drawing to make that cover floated into one collector’s hands.
The influence of sports on American culture was already in full bloom in the 1920s. How else to explain baseball great George Sisler as the cover subject for a national news magazine that would become an icon?
The St. Louis Cardinal was such a hitting sensation, TIME thought putting him on the front of the magazine might increase sales in early 1925. It was the first occasion TIME had chosen an athlete for the cover. Surviving copies of the magazine are scarce, but a recent discovery was even more rare.
The original artwork commissioned by TIME was obtained by Lelands auction company on Wednesday, which in turn, offered it to noted southern California publication specialist and Time/Sports Illustrated collector Phil Regli. It is one of only three known original art pieces from TIME covers to ever enter the hobby. It had been in a Michigan fan’s private collection, unknown in hobby circles. The artist apparently wasn’t a baseball fan. Beneath the cover flip, he wrote the name "Zach Wheat".
The magazine itself in nice condition is valued at approximately $1,000. The art could be worth at least ten times that much. Regli, who literally wrote the book on TIME’s sister publication with his 1994-issued "Guide to Sports Illustrated", is curious to know the true value on the open market, but doesn’t expect it to sell. "The odds are it’ll sit in my collection for at least a decade. When I sell it, that’s when I’m done."