When Writer Jerry Kirshenbaum signed on with TIME magazine a little over three years ago, he joined, among other people, a TIME researcher named Geraldine Kirshenbaum. As can be imagined, the subsequent confusion occasioned much merry laughter and a certain amount of bad language. "One evening," Jerry recalls, "a date of hers walked mistakenly into my office, all set for a night on the town, and did a double take when he saw me. 'Where's Gerry Kirshenbaum?' he asked. 'I'm Jerry Kirshenbaum,' I replied. 'No, seriously,' he said, etc. Luckily," Jerry adds, "I had other plans."
Though Jerry has now come to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED the matter is far from resolved, TIME'S Gerry being, of all things, that magazine's sports researcher. This means that while covering sporting events our Jerry often meets people who have had dealings, by letter or telephone, with their Gerry: they frequently greet him with, "But I thought you were a girl." This is not the best start for an interview with a 270-pound defensive tackle, but he has learned to overcome.
Jerry was born and raised in Benton Harbor, Mich. "Boxing people hear where I'm from," he says, "and right away they mention the Billy Miske-Jack Dempsey title fight, which was held in Benton Harbor in 1920. My father was 14 then and tells me he attended the fight—he sneaked past a gate attendant and sold bottled water to the crowd at a penny a glass." Jerry's own sporting memories of Benton Harbor are not so grand. They principally involve his own athletic career, which peaked in the eighth grade when he made the basketball team and played every game of the season but three. Those were the only three games the team won.
He left the scene of this triumph for Northwestern University where he took his degree in journalism, after which he went to the University of Michigan for a master's degree in political science. He worked for the Minneapolis Tribune for three years before coming to New York to join TIME. "My wife Susan is having some trouble adjusting to my being at SPORTS ILLUSTRATED." he reports. "It isn't that she doesn't like sports. On the contrary, she takes them so much to heart that she gets agitated during close games and can't bear watching the last two or three minutes of action-at home she leaves the TV set and goes and washes dishes, letting the kitchen faucet run full force so she can't hear the commentary. During all the excitement of this year's pro basketball playoffs, I wound up watching the final minutes of almost every game by myself. I really didn't mind—I enjoy eating off clean plates."
July 20, 1969
The fact that Jerry Kirshenbaum has two articles in this issue, a study of Madison Square Garden matchmaker Teddy Brenner (page 48) and a report on javelin throwing (page 38), has nothing to do with the fact that he will be 31 at the end of August. We are not working him overtime to get what we can before he finds himself a burned-out wreck on the far side of the generation gap. He has simply written two fine pieces, and we look for many more to be produced in his declining years.