Pollack grew up a short walk from Shibe Park in North Philadelphia. As a youngster, he perfected the technique of sneaking into Athletics games by melting into various civic groups or groups from charitable organizations that were let in free. His favorite trivial childhood pursuit was verbally barraging pals with a baseball player's initials and challenging anyone within shouting distance to identify the owner.
As a journalism major at Temple University, Pollack was a five-sport (soccer, basketball, tennis, golf and gymnastics) team manager, a record that still stands. It was during the basketball season of his senior year that he began keeping stats. He spent nearly 2� years overseas during World War II in Special Services, traveling all around Great Britain running trivia contests (what else?) to keep spirits high among the troops. At the time, his striking resemblance to comedian Henny Youngman seemed to be his major qualification for the job. Pollack returned to Philly in 1945 and became a sportswriter for the Evening Bulletin.
"At $28 a week, I needed to make other money," says Pollack. So he took a side job as statistician for games at Philly's Convention Hall. When the Warriors became Philly's NBA entry, Pollack was hired as the team's statistician and assistant director of public relations. The Harv's reign as the king of NBA stats had begun. "There hasn't been a year I haven't come up with something new," he says.
Pollack was there in 1962 on the night that Chamberlain scored 100 points against the New York Knicks in Hershey, Pa. He doubts that either that record or Wilt's 55 rebounds in a single game (1960) will ever fall. He also claims to have settled statistically the great center debate: Who was better, Chamberlain or the Celtics' Bill Russell. Based on Pollack's 142-game, head-to-head comparison, Chamberlain averaged 28.7 points and 28.7 rebounds, while Russell's figures add up to 14.5 and 23.7, respectively. " Russell's stats don't come close to Wilt's," Pollack says. "And when Wilt had those 55 rebounds, who do you think it was against? Bill Russell."
One stat Pollack has yet to scribble into his ancient blue plastic notebook—"My wife bought me a new one, but I won't use it. Maybe next season"—is how many NBA games he has seen. "I really don't know," he says. "But one day I'm going to sit down and figure it out."
Another statistical category is born: GVHs, games viewed by The Harv.