In five years of editing SCORECARD, Jerry Kirshenbaum (here appositely posing before a blow-up of a baseball scorecard from our first year of publication) has exercised a gift for discerning trends and illuminating the controversial and has selected some 750 items for THEY SAID IT, the quotes that run as the final entry each week. Readers always write and ask where he finds them. Simple, Jerry says. From his own reading, from suggestions offered by staff members and our network of stringers, and from letters sent in by readers.
Well, maybe not all that simple, he adds. Sometimes a reader, or even a stringer, will submit a good quote from a newspaper without realizing that it has a long white beard and walks with a cane. "Some circulate for so long, you almost need carbon-dating to determine how old they are," says Kirshenbaum. "A couple of months ago we received one that must have set a record for antiquity—Nebraska athletic director Bob Devaney saying, I had a friend with a lifetime contract. After two bad years, the university president called him into his office and pronounced him dead.' In checking its accuracy, writer-reporter Brooks Clark discovered it was almost 20 years old. It had appeared in THEY SAID IT in 1965."
Kirshenbaum underlines the importance of Clark and the other reporters who have put in tours of duty with him on SCORECARD. "A new person is assigned to the job every four or five months—I suppose when I've worn out the old one," Kirshenbaum says. "We run as many as 10 different items each week, plus three or four THEY SAID ITS. The reporter has to dig up the information I need and check out the accuracy of each item, including a number that are written and checked but not used for one reason or another. In effect, the SCORECARD reporter has to handle a dozen or more stories every week. It's a demanding job." Clark wryly agrees. "One of Jerry's strengths is his ability—after you've interviewed people to get the information he's asked for—to hit on the one vital question you forgot to ask. And he's always right, which makes it doubly effective."
Kirshenbaum is married to a writer for the ABC-TV soap opera All My Children, who has also had occasion to tap the resources of our staff. One day Susan Kirshenbaum (she and Jerry have a son, David, 13) was casting about for names for two lawyers in a child custody suit on an upcoming episode and thought of writer-reporter Bob Sullivan and associate writer Steve Wulf. When the show aired, SI's sizable group of All My Children fans gathered in Kirshenbaum's office to watch. The real-life Bob Sullivan and Steve Wulf were among them, cheering their fictional namesakes on as they argued the case. Incidentally, Wulf won.