Every day this summer, on a basketball court in Pennsylvania, 55-year-old Howard Morris Garfinkel has hoisted a two-handed set shot from the top of the key, and a few hundred of America's best high school basketball prospects have cheered like mad. Garfinkel figures he's about 40% for that shot, career, which isn't bad for a guy who says he has little basketball talent. But more important is the fact that with each shot he once again put his personal signature to the proceedings at Five-Star, the nationally known camp over which he has presided like a Zeus in orange sneakers for the last 19 years.
Woody Allen blew it when he failed to cast Garfinkel among the comedians kibitzing in Manhattan's Carnegie Deli in Broadway Danny Rose. "Garf" or "the Garf," as he's known, belonged there. Heck, 10 months of the year he eats at the Carnegie three or four times a week, and he frequently has Carnegie comestibles delivered to his apartment on West 55th Street. Everything about him says New York City—specifically, Madison Square Garden circa 1950. The set shot, the cigarettes he chain smokes, the greased-back black hair and baggy clothes, the Knicks (he missed only five games at the Garden last season), the city life-style (no wife, no driver's license, a large collection of swing, classical and Broadway show albums). He stages his basketball camps far from the urban clutter of Manhattan—this year he offered two one-week sessions in the tiny Pocono Mountain town of Honesdale, Pa., and four others at Robert Morris College in a quiet, pleasant suburb of Pittsburgh—but he runs them like a New Yorker, employing equal parts cabdriver-brusque and Jewish mother-neurotic. Someday the Carnegie will name a sandwich for Garf, as it did for Danny Rose. Something with tongue and a lot of mustard.
Delray Brooks, son of the fire chief in the heartland town of Michigan City, Ind., would seem to have little in common with a Runyonesque character like Garfinkel, whose late father was a prosperous woolens merchant in Manhattan's garment industry and later became a stockbroker. Brooks, 18, stands 6'4", and was one of last season's 10 best high school players. With Brooks averaging 33.5 points per game, Michigan City's Rogers High won 28 straight before losing in the state semifinals. Brooks can play defense, too, so it was hardly surprising that Bobby Knight beckoned and that Brooks will begin classes at Indiana this week—or that he was one of only two high school players (Kansas-bound Danny Manning was the other) invited to last spring's Olympic trials by Knight.
Brooks is, perhaps, a little too sure of himself at this stage, but he's pleasant, earnest, enthusiastic and intelligent. He was president of his junior and senior classes, governor of the Indiana Boys State Convention and winner of Rogers' DAR good-citizenship award. But it was at Five-Star five years ago that Delray first made a name for himself. He took to the "station instruction" (which an old Garfinkel camp coach named Bobby Knight had installed in 1968), the daily schedule of games and the lectures from top college and pro coaches and players. He liked and understood the cantankerous and colorful Garfinkel, And the feeling was mutual—although with Garf, it isn't always thus.
August 26, 1984
"I know Garf's a little ornery," says Brooks, "but he's done a lot for me. Five-Star is like a second home."
The nation's high school basketball players, the Delrays as well as the duds, have had a dizzying number of these second homes laid out for them each summer, ranging from the sublime (like Mike Glenn's free camps for the hearing impaired in Decatur, Ga. and Trenton, N.J.) to the ridiculous (like the Crazy George camp near Cleveland). Most of the camps have reasonable fees, ranging from $150 to $300, including room and board, for a week's stay.
But for the hottest hotshots, there's really only one way to go: by invitation, to one of the camps that attract the top players from around the country. For years Garf's Five-Star stood alone, but in 1977 a competitor, the B/C All-Stars Basketball Camp opened, and things got a little more interesting. This year B/C had two one-week sessions at Milledgeville, Ga., one at Rensselaer, Ind. and another at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. B/C is run by a loose jangle of perpetual motion named Bill Cronauer. A young-looking 41 with brown hair that flops straight down on all sides of his head, Cronauer suggests an absentminded professor, or perhaps a novelist who published something of merit 20 years ago but can't find his notes for the sequel and doesn't particularly care.
Cronauer was raised in western New York and educated at Syracuse, but the B/C camp has a distinctly Southern character to it, what with a Tennessee native, Bill (Bull) Bolton, as co-director and a Kentucky country boy, Stan Hardin, as coordinator. They party a bit. Many mornings the Cronauer troupe goes to bed just as Bryant Gumbel says good morning to Jane Pauley. Rising a few hours later, they'll sip coffee out of Styrofoam cups and say things like, "I guaran-damn-tee you, son, we got after it last night."
Deep down, Garf and Cronauer probably share a grudging respect for each other, but on the camp scene they are like opposing warlords, engaged in a territorial struggle that demands eternal vigilance. By and large they have little personal contact, though hardly a day goes by when they don't think about each other. Their battle has gone beyond camps, too. Each is identified with an important scouting newsletter that rates high school basketball players and at the same time slam-dunks the English language (see box, page 82). Garf was forced to sell his share of the scouting service in June, as we shall see, in a border skirmish of the summer camp war.
A third camp, the Superstar Invitational, is run by an organization not half as interesting as Garfinkel or Cronauer—a San Diego—based corporation called Sportsworld, Ltd. that also operates camps specializing in volleyball, soccer, football, baseball, golf, track and field, Softball, tennis, computers, gymnastics, Whitewater rafting and weight loss, to name a few. Superstar draws together the best players from California and three or four other Western states, and because of its regional character, Garf and Cronauer don't lose sleep over it.
But the Athletes for Better Education (AFBE)/Nike Camp at Princeton is tough competition. AFBE's second Princeton camp finished its 10-day session last month, once again accomplishing what is suggested in its pretentious-sounding name—it combined academics and basketball. AFBE, a charitable organization partly funded by the Federal Government, began with a regional camp in Chicago in 1976 and soon expanded to Los Angeles and New York. Garf and Cronauer hardly noticed it. But that changed when, with the first Princeton session, in 1983, AFBE started to court the best players in the country.
"We invited what we considered the top 150 players to Princeton this year," says AFBE president Arthur (Chick) Sherrer, "and we got 134 of them. It was extraordinary. It was undoubtedly the greatest assemblage of high school basketball talent at one place ever."
It was bad news for Cronauer, whose '83 B/C session at Rensselaer was held at the same time; he lost several top prospects to AFBE. In the summer camp game, AFBE currently holds most of the trump cards. With the help of heavyweight sponsors like Nike, American Airlines and the NBA Players Association, AFBE flies in the campers, houses them, feeds them, book-learns them and throws in free sneakers, socks, T shirts and shorts. Welcome to the big time.
To have followed Delray Brooks through the summer of '83, before he committed himself to Indiana, was to trace the ebb and flow of the camp war, its battle-grounds and its byproducts. One of the latter was NCAA legislation; in fact, the first camp Brooks attended, the locally sponsored McDonald's SuperStar Invitational in Evansville, was legislated out of existence because it was considered to be little more than a recruiting tool for the University of Evansville. Also, Brooks's own high school association would forbid him to attend the AFBE camp. He was offered a special rate to attend B/C, which went ignored, and was hired as a waiter at Five-Star, where he won three awards (one-on-one tournament, sportsmanship trophy and best defender). Like blue-chip athletes before him, Brooks learned still more in a summer of camp dancing. To wit: that he'd receive special favors because of his talent and that grown men—camp directors and basketball coaches—would stop at almost nothing to secure his services.
For a camp director, the more blue-chip players, the juicier next year's advertising brochures. And both Cronauer and Garf are masters at manipulating the numbers. "We had eight of the top 10 big kids in the East," one will say. Or, "We had four of the top five guards over 6'2" from the South." Getting a Brooks might lure two or three additional blue chips the following year.
To get Brooks to show up at B/C for even one day, Cronauer offered to charge him the very agreeable fee of $1. Entrepreneurs like Garfinkel and Cronauer can charge whatever they please for their camps, although their generosity oftentimes is tempered by lower-profile partners with whom they divide profits—Bolton at B/C, Will Klein, principal of Evander Childs High School in the Bronx, at Five-Star. Cronauer gives away many more special deals to campers than Garfinkel, who, by and large, restricts his specials to two-sessions-for-the-price-of-one for superstars like Brooks, who must also work in the dining hall. Cronauer will offer a special group rate for a bunch of campers from a certain area, but he doesn't like to advertise these deals, particularly the Dollar Special, for fear of alienating campers who pay full price.
Brooks never had any intention of going to B/C anyway. There are Cronauer guys and Garf guys, and Brooks is very much a Garf guy because his reputation, he believes, was made at Five-Star. "I'd feel like I might be stabbing Garf in the back if I went to B/C," said Brooks.
As soon as Cronauer learned that Brooks wasn't coming to B/C, he forgot about him. Or so he said. Cronauer takes a scattershot approach to his camp—make a million phone calls and hope a thousand click. He spends most of his waking hours, which might number 22 a day, on the phone—Phoneauer, some of his friends call him—trying to round up talent. At Five-Star, paperwork is generally completed by May—"This year we were sold out on May 1, and that's never happened before in the history of man," says Garfinkel in typical overstatement. But Cronauer never knows exactly who's coming to B/C until they get there...or don't get there. This lends a certain manic charm to Cronauer's camp that would drive Garfinkel to distraction. It also leads to overcrowding. There were 480 campers at Rensselaer last summer even though the camp brochure promised a ceiling of 280.
Any number of things drive Garfinkel to distraction—lost basketballs, dirt on his outside courts, inquiring reporters, kids who arrive late to his camp because they were at B/C. One such player in '83 was Al Lorenzen, a scholastic All-America forward from Cedar Rapids, Iowa who will begin his studies at Iowa this week. Lorenzen felt a similar kind of loyalty toward B/C that Brooks felt toward Five-Star. "B/C was the turning point in my career," says Lorenzen. "It's where people found out about me, and I found out I could play at a certain level." When Lorenzen arrived a day late at Five-Star, Garf snubbed him most of the week and snorted angrily whenever his name came up. Garfinkel, however, didn't keep Lorenzen off the camp all-star team, and it was Garfinkel who selected Lorenzen as the camp's best rebounder.
There is no more loyal fellow than Garfinkel when it comes to "my guys." From the moment Brooks arrived at Robert Morris, it was easy to see why he called it a second home. He joked and clowned with Garfinkel and was frequently singled out for special praise. Brooks's position as a waiter only drew more attention to his superstar status. It wasn't much of a job. He'd merely remain in the dining hall 15 minutes after meals and wipe tables and stack chairs quickly and without breaking a sweat, a nice exchange for a week of camp. Meals are not a high-priority item at Five-Star, anyway. The food is terrible (it's actually pretty good at B/C), and Garf doesn't particularly give a hoot. "We didn't come here to eat," he says.
They come for hoops. Almost every minute of the day, Five-Star is filled with activity. After breakfast it's down to the courts for station drills, followed by games. After lunch it's more games or instruction and a lecture from a big-time coach like Iowa's George Raveling. After dinner there are more games and a late activity, with lights out at about 11:30.
At B/C, Cronauer can usually be found in his office strangling a telephone, but at Five-Star Garfinkel is always very visible. He calls the sessions together with a blast of the whistle he wears around his neck. Add his sneakers, his cigarette and an ambling gait, and he looks and sounds for all the world like a social director at a Catskills resort. When he has everybody's attention, he may throw up his two-handed set shot, or just pace back and forth delivering his messages. He takes his own photographs, setting world records for times walked across a court during a game.
Last year Garf threw out one camper who was talking during a lecture. "You're out of here," Garf said. "Who needs your ass!" Then Garf gave the campers some classic advice: "Unless you're a player like Delray Brooks, play one level below where you think you can play and two levels below where your father thinks you can play."
Garf is proudest of the 13 stations that are a major part of the Five-Star instruction. At B/C there's a loosey-goosey kind of intensity and less emphasis on instruction. But Five-Star is big on teaching. Each day Brooks and his fellow campers worked on perimeter defense with Villanova assistant coach Mitch Buonaguro or on back-to-the-basket play with Brendan Malone, now the head coach at Rhode Island, or got individual instruction from Notre Dame assistant Pete Gillen at what Garf likes to call "famed Station 13." The coaches take it seriously, the campers take it seriously, and Garf takes it seriously. "We are the best teaching-instructional camp in the history of the world," he says. "Not Pennsylvania, not the United States, the——world!" If you'd care to file a challenge, leave it at the Carnegie Deli.
Garf s employment of a selected few college assistants as camp coaches aroused the ire of many college head coaches, who feared that those in-camp aides were doing more recruiting than teaching. So in 1983, at the recommendation of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, the NCAA passed the following rule: "No member of the basketball coaching staff of a member institution may be employed by or lecture at a basketball camp established, sponsored or conducted by an individual or organization that provides a scouting service concerning prospective student-athletes." Inasmuch as the B/C, Superstar and AFBE camps didn't employ college coaches, it was obvious that the rule was aimed at Five-Star. It became known as the Garfinkel Rule.
Garf took the offensive. He got a waiver last summer on the grounds that he had already signed contracts with assistant coaches. This summer, most of Garf's college assistants were back at their stations again because Garfinkel outfoxed everybody by selling his share of the scouting service, the HSBI Report, to his partner, Tom Konchalski. That was not what the NABC members had in mind. They wanted the college assistants out of Five-Star completely.
Then the NCAA's administrative committee ruled that simply selling the scouting service was not enough. Not only could Garf not have an interest in HSBI, but he also couldn't write for it. And Konchalski, a Five-Star staffer for eight years, couldn't set foot on Five-Star's campsites.
How will the NCAA police Garf's divorce from HSBI and Konchalski? What if Garf secretly acts as Konchalski's Boswell, feeding him valuable information for HSBI? What if the NCAA finds out that Konchalski visited Five-Star one recent morning to sing Happy Birthday to Garf? "There are enough college coaches out there who will let us know," says Tom Yeager, the NCAA's assistant director of legislative services. Then, he adds, the NCAA would have no choice but to prohibit college coaches from participating at any camp away from their home campuses.
"I gotta go to the wall to fight this thing," Garf says. "There'll always be Five-Star, and it'll still be the best, but without my coaches it won't be as good." Garf, after all, hired almost all of his station-masters while they were still high school coaches. It's a testament to both Garf's eye for talent and the prestige of Five-Star that most of his coaches got major college jobs after working at the camp. And if Garfinkel goes to court in an attempt to keep his station-masters, he will almost certainly call the college-campus camps of the Dean Smiths, the Joe B. Halls and others into question.
"At those camps coaches have complete contact behind closed doors," says Virginia assistant Dave Odom, one of Five-Star's coaches. "Somebody should look into that."
The bottom line here, of course, is recruiting edge. Have some Five-Star superstars gone to a particular college because a station-master was an assistant at that school? "The total number of kids who have gone to a certain school because of Five-Star, in all the years that Five-Star has existed," Garf says, "does not equal the number of kids in one year who attend a college which sponsored a camp they went to."
It's a difficult claim to prove. Rumors are rampant that certain universities use their on-campus camps as recruiting tools, thereby violating NCAA rules, particularly the one that prohibits a college camp from providing a free or reduced rate for a camper.
"I'm sure that's a fairly common practice," says Yeager, "and it doesn't do any good to see a canceled check, because there's a you-give-me-a-check-I'll-give-you-back-cash arrangement." Still, the NCAA has uncovered only one significant summer-camp violation in recent years: Auburn University was put on probation for one season partly because it provided a free ride or reduced fee to seven campers in 1979.
Of the 30 incoming freshmen listed as All-Americas by Basketball Times—selected, incidentally, by Garfinkel and Konchalski—only two will attend universities where Garf's station-masters have worked as assistants—Dave Rivers (Notre Dame) and Michael Brown (Syracuse). By contrast, six of the 13 players on last year's Kentucky roster and four of the top 12 on North Carolina's attended the camps of Hall and Smith, respectively. And so it goes.
Rest assured, the Halls and the Smiths will never allow themselves to be legislated out of the camp business. The right to run a summer camp is often written into coaches' contracts, and camps can add as much as $100,000 to a coach's income. Rest assured, too, that they won't push Garf very far. Maybe they'd vote against him under the cloak of anonymity, but it's a different ball game when they're on his turf at Five-Star. They walk on eggs. They need this man. Camps like Five-Star and B/C are smorgasbords, and the coaches congregate like hungry wolves.
Both Cronauer and Garfinkel run their best camp weeks between June 15 and Aug. 1 because the NCAA dictates that only during those six weeks may coaches evaluate talent. August is a "dead month" with the camps off-limits to coaches. All the camp operators make noise about "taking care" of their campers in front of the college coaches, but each uses the maximum-exposure angle to sell his camp. Certainly the kids know the score. "There are much better players on the playground around Washington in the summer," said Tyrone Jones, a former Washington, D.C. Dunbar High star who is headed for Kansas. "I go to camp so the coaches can see me."
At camps, college coaches on scouting missions can't engage players in private conversation; the NCAA toughened its stance on this rule when it got complaints that coaches were turning a so-called accidental "bump" into a 15-minute Q & A. Coaches seem to observe the rule. Not that they're paragons of law and order. There are simply too many other coaches around who'd squeal on them if they didn't.
Coaches have found alternate ways to communicate, like wearing the colors. For example, there was Marquette's head coach, Rick Majerus, at the Evansville camp, decked out in a huge blue shirt with MARQUETTE in bold gold and white letters. "He knows I'm here all right," said Majerus. "He" was Robert Barnes, a 6'8" center out of Racine, Wis. Majerus was babysitting, simply hanging around to let the player know he was there. Too bad: Barnes chose Wisconsin. Brooks attracted a lot of babysitters at Five-Star, but Knight was not among them.
Besides the babysitting and maybe a quick wave—waving is O.K., says Yeager—there's little else a coach can do in the summer besides go home and write letters to a recruit. Says Chris Washburn, a 6'11" center who's going to N.C. State, "All the letters were pretty much the same. They said how glad they were to see me play at camp and how they wish they could've talked to me." It sounds a little silly, but that's how the recruiting game is played these days.
Before Brooks got to Five-Star last summer, he had gotten some bad news: The Indiana High School Athletic Association had prohibited its athletes from attending the AFBE camp in Princeton. IHSAA bylaws state that a camp must be open to all students, and clearly AFBE wasn't. No competitive camp truly is, but the IHSAA had other problems with AFBE. "Because of the free plane rides and all of that," said IHSAA commissioner Gene Cato, "I'm not sure it doesn't violate some of our rules on amateurism." This year the IHSAA allowed its players to attend AFBE, provided they paid a fee comparable to that charged by other camps; AFBE and the IHSAA agreed on $125.
Some members of the NCAA's legislative services staff remain a little leery of AFBE—Yeager likens an educational foundation sponsoring a superstar basketball camp to a "church running a bingo camp." But AFBE's legal status as a charity keeps the NCAA from making great waves. And one of Sherrer's main speakers at Princeton the last two years was none other than NCAA president John Toner. The AFBE academic program is excellent, and a little of the Princeton atmosphere can't help but rub off on a kid. And, though the station work wasn't as sharp or as intense as Five-Star's, the games at night were equal or superior to those at Five-Star, B/C and SuperStar.
So, what's the problem? Well, there's the specter of giant corporate sponsorship, for one thing. Nike has contributed over $300,000 in merchandise and cash to AFBE's Princeton sessions the last two years. And there's the question of why dozens and dozens of college coaches like to hang around a tax-exempt academic and basketball camp with clipboards in their hands. Are they recording SAT scores? Or field-goal percentages?
"If AFBE's so interested in education," Cronauer says, "then why are they bringing in the very top players?"
"For once in my life," says Garf, "Bill Cronauer said something I wish I'd said."
The case against AFBE has been argued by parties more objective than Cronauer and Garfinkel. Ron Nikcevich, the highly successful coach at Lyons Township High School in LaGrange, Ill. and the coach of the 1983 U.S. national junior team, says: "I just don't actively support any quasi-educational group that hitches its wagon to star basketball players in the name of education. Our schools can do the job. Basketball players, certainly the top ones, will get all the advice and counseling they'll need. Are these the players that really need the help?"
Says Sherrer, "If anyone needs this program, it's the top players. And if having the top players here gives us exposure and helps our image, we make no apologies for that." But there's still a suggestion of arrogance when Sherrer says of his program, "It is essential for a kid to come to AFBE if invited."
True, the AFBE program is a fine one, but it is foolish to say that an intelligent student needs to travel to Princeton for 10 days when he could do just as well at home studying, reading poetry, tinkering with math, whatever. AFBE's program is no different from Five-Star's or B/C's or Superstar's in its potential effect on a player. All camps contribute to what AFBE's staff psychologist, Richard Segal, calls "narcissistic entitlement," the feeling among many athletes that they are entitled to things because of their skills. Understand that Segal is 100% behind AFBE. He recently tabulated the results of a questionnaire given to last summer's AFBE campers, who overwhelmingly supported the principles of the camp. But who wouldn't? These kids got a free plane ride, an opportunity to hear speakers like Bill Bradley and Bernard King, not to mention a basketball audition for America's coaches.
Do they really need all that? Do they deserve it? Won't life hand them enough because of their talent? Consider the messages Brooks was sent last summer:
Come to B/C, please, even for a day. You hardly have to pay anything.... Welcome back to Five-Star and get two weeks for the price of one.... Room with Chris Washburn, another superstar like yourself.... See these coaches out here staring at you, dying to talk to you? They want you.... Come fly up to Princeton, take some courses, get some new basketball threads and some shoes and pay nothing, kid. You deserve it. You can play basketball.
The fact is that for the superstar, the camp system is redundant. Everybody in basketball knows the Delray Brookses, the Chris Washburns, the Michael Browns and the Al Lorenzens. Everybody. No matter what Cronauer and Garfinkel say, Brooks didn't need to go to camp for more exposure once he had burst into the limelight. No matter what Sherrer says, Brooks didn't need the AFBE experience as much as someone less intelligent, less sure of himself, with fewer opportunities for proper guidance.
Similarly, the superstar coaches, the Ravelings, the Valvanos, the Phelpses, all say the camps save them money because they can see so many players in one place. Nonetheless, they or their assistants will visit every camp and still spend money to recruit a player during the school year. Most small-college coaches, on the other hand, can't afford to get around the summer circuit so easily. And if they could, they wouldn't see many of their type of player, because he's not invited. The system misses many of the non-stars on both the playing and coaching levels.
But that's simply the way it works these days. Summers and summer camps aren't what they used to be, but in today's big-time world of college athletics, neither are autumns, winters or springs.
GARF AND CRONAUER: PICASSOS OF PURPLE PROSE
What's a "legit tweener" if it's not Boy George? Do you, or any of your friends, have "low major muscle"? Or "? feet"? Does your "j border on pure"? What does "HM if reverts to soph" mean? Is Kansas-bound Danny Manning really "the greatest swingman since Benny Goodman"? Does Syracuse-bound Michael Brown really "score like we breathe"? And can Georgia Tech-bound Duane Ferrell really "say hello to God 3 times a quarter"?
The answers—and much, much more!—can be found in the collected works of Howard Garfinkel and Bill Cronauer. Until June Garfinkel edited and wrote the HSBI Report, while Cronauer produces the B/C Scouting Service, the most widely read of the newsletters that evaluate high school basketball talent for college recruiters.
Garfinkel started HSBI in 1964. It sold for 50¢ an issue in those days. Garf has only one of the original books left, and he says, "I wouldn't sell it for a million dollars." Though Garf's evaluations are restricted to Eastern players, the service became nationally known. Today about 200 subscribers pay $250 a year for HSBI, now run by Tom Konchalski, which is published monthly from September to June.
Cronauer began the irregularly issued B/C (for Bill Cronauer) Scouting Service in 1968 with about 28 subscribers; he now has some 600 paying $200, $300 if they want junior college evaluations as well. That's an estimated gross of $150,000. He has more clients than Garfinkel because his service is national and is purchased by colleges across the country.
A reliable estimate of Cronauer's profit on the service is $100,000. "I make far more on my service than on my camps," he says. His partner in the camp business, Bill Bolton, publishes his own service, called Basketball's Recruiting Profiles, a guide in which recruiters can find out such things as a potential recruit's favorite food and best friend, and a coach's shoe size.
Garf is more guarded about his personal finances, though he says he had an income of about $50,000 in 1983, including proceeds from his camp and the scouting service. Until two months ago Garfinkel and Konchalski had split the HSBI profits, but now that Garf has acceded to NCAA rules and sold his share, Konchalski is the sole owner. "I was going to leave it to Tom in my will, anyway," says Garfinkel. Many refuse to believe, however, that the unmistakable Garfinkel prose will be absent from HSBI. Prose like:
"Kid's the biggest sleeper since Rip Van Winkle" or "...more tools than the Watergate burglars." A shot blocker has "more rejects than the Harvard Law School." A penetrating guard "gets into the paint like Picasso." Garf's major talent is discovering backcourt men. Heck, he's discovered more guards than..."than Buckingham Palace," he says.
Of Cronauer's work, Garfinkel says, "You can't do a national service and be accurate. But I'll say this: The volume of work Bill Cronauer does is mind-boggling. I don't know how he does it." Cronauer says it's easy. One only has to be on the phone 22 hours a day, 52 weeks a year. "Of course, I can't see all the players I rate," he says. "But I see a lot of them. And there's not a player anywhere that I can't find out about with one phone call."
Being wrong about a player, in Cronauer's view, is just part of the game. "I'm bothered by it for about five seconds," he says, "then I forget about it and go on." Garfinkel? "I'm wrong on a kid," says the Garf, "and I don't sleep for a week."
Different as the men and their services are, Cronauer and Garf could have graduated from the same creative writing school, one that teaches things like "legit tweener" (a player who's excellent, or "legitimate," but too big to be a guard and too small to be a forward). "HM if reverts to soph" denotes a player who will be good at a leading university, a "High Major," if he plays as he did as a high school sophomore. Cronauer once wrote of a player: "Won't make 'em forget Corky Withrow here." Corky Withrow? Surely Cronauer has HM esoterica muscle.