There are some who will tell you flatly that Herbie Scharfman, who took the pictures on pages 14 and 18 of this issue, is the greatest sports photographer in the whole world, including New York's upper East Side. As the proud employer of a large stable of skilled lensmen, I cannot go that far, but I will say that none of them can top Herbie as an adviser to Presidents. He once advised Harry S. Truman: "Look, Harry, will you stop walking so fast, already?" Or to pitchers: "Look, Sandy, I'm telling ya to stick it in his ear, see?" Or to prizefighters: "Hey, Benvenuti. Hey, fella! Look over here at me and wave. Atta boy!" Herbie also counsels baseball managers free of charge: "Look, Walter, this is what I think we gotta do here."
Through all his advising, Scharfman gives the impression of having a solid-brass psyche (he is a little dismayed when people find it is just brass-plated and that beneath the bluff Herbie is solid marshmallow). All sorts of people, particularly sports figures, are never quite sure he is not the guy who owns the franchise. He is, in fact, such a voluble baseball expert that Walter Alston introduces him as "my assistant manager." Only a photographer of the old school could be so beautifully brash and get away with it.
There are not many such graduates left—the old school started long before SPORTS ILLUSTRATED did. Herbie himself started back in the tough 1930s when press photographers were bold, hardy men, always first on the scene with their hat brims turned up. He ranged from sports to news beats. In the early war days of 1942 he was taking shots of ships torpedoed off the Atlantic Coast and later joined those well-known, well-photographed morning walks with President Truman around New York. "We were all beat," he says, "but he never got tired, Harry."
Scharfman began taking on his protective brass coating as a motorcycle messenger for the late International News Photos, roaring off to various ball parks and fight arenas to pick up and deliver unprocessed film to the old Daily Mirror building on East 45th Street. Finally bored with carrying other people's pictures, he began shooting some on his own.
August 6, 1967
By the time Herbie came to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED he had already collected several major photography awards. "I still got a cellar full of 'em," he says. INS—and INP with it—merged with UP Saturday, May 24, 1958. Herbie took a whole day off before coming to work for us on Monday, May 26. His first assignment was to go to Syosset, Long Island to get a dog picture.
"What are you, kidding me?" Herbie groaned to the picture editor. "You want a mug shot of a lousy bloodhound?" The protest made, he then went meekly out to Long Island and brought back a series of memorable dog shots—so memorable that they were held until there was enough space to do them justice in the magazine. We have been saving space like that for Herb Scharfman ever since.