Plenty of people know about Auburn’s first fling with Sports Illustrated. The magazine, in a close internal vote, pegged Auburn as the favorites to win the 1964 national championship, and put a Frank Mullins painting of Jimmy Sidle — the first quarterback to lead the nation in rushing — on the cover of a college football preview issue celebrating The Year of The Running Back just to prove how serious it was.
It was off the charts publicity. The buzz on campus could cut through wood. Magazine racks in Auburn sold out the first day.
But few folks know about Sidle’s first flirtation with the national press seven months earlier. In early December 1963, Sidle flew up to New York to do the whole LOOK All-American thing, rubbing elbows with Bing Crosby and all that. You can watch it here. Jimmy comes in at 6:12. It’s great. But that’s not what I’m talking about.
The wining and dining also included a lunch at the World’s Fair, which was also attended by a select group of 125 wide-eyed Big Apple school boys and their autograph books.
Sidle, the nicest guy around, hit it off with 14-year-old Joe De Amicis, who, since he’d been there a few times, volunteered to give ol’ Jimmy a tour of the fair. The LOOK photographer on hand thought that sounded just fine.
From the Feb. 11, 1964 issue, under the headline: Boy Meets Quarterback