Quick, name the oldest sports magazine in the U.S. Sports Illustrated? Nope, that publication began in August 1954. Sport? No, that magazine is long dead even though it launched prior to Sports Illustrated.
The correct answer to the question is Sporting News (formerly The Sporting News) which celebrates its 125th anniversary this year.
SN was established in 1886 and became the dominant American publication reporting on baseball. In fact, the publication eventually came to be known as "the Bible of baseball."
Founded by Alfred H. Spink, a director for the St. Louis Browns and a former writer for the Missouri Republican newspaper, SN originally sold for five cents. The original version of the publication was decidedly non-glamorous--a black-and-white newsprint with underwhelming graphics. It was a weekly pub and would print a box score and short blurb for every baseball game played in the major leagues, and numerous minor leagues, across the U.S.
As a boy growing up--and a kid in love with the St. Louis Cardinals--The Sporting News was my source for poring over the stats of Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Julian Javier, Orlando Cepeda and Bill White. It was the place where I would compare the success of my Cardinals with my buddy's favorite team, the Baltimore Orioles. Sure, TSN covered other sports but baseball was the focus--for many, it was the source to stay in touch with what was going on with teams across the country versus local coverage which, at that time, was very focused on the local team of interest.
TSN evolved--it had to--and became a publication which spent more time covering the NFL, NHL and NBA. It also began focusing more attention on college football and college basketball and, ultimately, actually devoted space to NASCAR.
In an age where magazines are dropping like flies and consumer behavior has shifted to the web for all things news, let's give it up for Sporting News--125 years young and still going strong.