The first issue of Sports Illustrated debuted with Milwaukee Braves slugger Eddie Matthews on its cover.
When the magazine was first released, there was no sports magazine available in the country with a national audience. Sports Illustrated quickly changed the face of sports news with a long list of innovations including: color photographs, scouting reports, in-depth sports reporting, sports cards inserts and high school Player of the Month awards.
Two major differences would separate this magazine from all the other sports journals. First, Sports Illustrated was directly aimed at the American middle-class consumer and budding television-sports spectator; second, and perhaps more important, SI was a property of the Henry Luce media empire that included Time and Life, and so SI was guaranteed the financial backing and time required to find its audience.
Most covers by athlete, 1954-2011
Michael Jordan - 57
Muhammad Ali - 38
Tiger Woods - 24
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - 22
Magic Johnson - 23
Tom Brady - 19
Kobe Bryant - 17