To donate shirts to Harvey’s quest, send them to his attention at:
Wells Fargo Center
3601 S. Broad St.
Philadelphia, Pa. 19147
January 24, 2013 by Jon Marks
PHILADELPHIA – “Now wait a minute.”
That’s your cue that Harvey Pollack is about to launch into a story. And he’s got a million of them.
The man who’s been more symbolic of the NBA than even the logo — since he’s been around since the very beginning – has a mind that never stops. Just ask him one simple question and be prepared for a detailed answer so complete it will make your head spin.
His first job? He remembers like it happened yesterday. Names. Places, Starting salary. Even though that was nearly 70 years ago. No, it’s not uncommon for older people to remember events of the distant past, but many forget what they had for breakfast that day.
Harvey? He remembers yesterday, today and probably even tomorrow.
In other words, not your average 90-year-old – or in his case, 32,872-day-old as his T-shirt proclaims, one of the Guinness Record setting bunch he’s been wearing for nearly 10 years.
Known as “Super Stat” to most, Pollack has been at the forefront of pro basketball’s statistical advancements since he began keeping them in 1947. The triple-double? Thank Harvey for that, which he never fails to remind Magic Johnson.
Plus-minus? Blocked shots? Minutes played? In fact, anything you can glean from a boxscore comes courtesy of the man who’s lived in the same house in Northeast Philadelphia for 56 years.
Quite simply, Pollack is every bit the Philadelphia institution when it comes to basketball stats, as the Liberty Bell or Betsy Ross’ House are to American history.
“I’m in 13 different Halls of Fame,” Pollack says proudly, proceeding to run down the list which ranges from his high school (Simon Gratz), college (Temple) and American Legion, to the Philadelphia Big Five, Jewish Sports Hall, and of course, the big one named after the original Dr. J — James Naismith – in Springfield, Mass. “I never would’ve dreamed having a life like this. My brother was the one who took me to all the games.”
And once he started, Harvey’s never stopped or showed any signs of slowing down. “I had bypass surgery in 2002,” he recalls. “I think I missed three games.”
Hear that, Andrew Bynum?
“It just comes naturally to me,” he continues. “You follow the ball.”
Sixers Director of Statistical Information Harvey “Super Stat” Pollack has recorded several stunning figures over the course of his 65-year career.
Although the NBA Hall of Famer is best known for writing the “100” sign held by Wilt Chamberlain after his landmark 100-point game, Pollack’s notoriety for a very different number is boosting his profile, too.
3000. Then 3001, 3002, 3003, 3004, and as of today, 3005.
Pollack has worn exactly 3005 T-shirts over the course of the last nine years – a different shirt every day – in his quest to be entered into the Guinness Book of World Records.
This journey through T-shirts began on June 28, 2003, shortly after the death of Pollack’s wife.
“While she was alive, as fast as I wore T-shirts, she washed them and they were back in my drawer the next week,” Pollack explained. “I never knew how many I had.”
Once she passed, he ventured down to the basement to retrieve his well-worn shirts, counting them to see if he had enough to wear a different shirt each day from the following day, June 28, through Labor Day.
After two straight days of wearing a T-shirt to the office, a Sixers coworker jokingly suggested that Pollack aim for entry in the Guinness Book of World Records. He decided to call the Book’s office, and found out that no one had yet tried to set a record for the most number of T-shirts worn on a consecutive, daily basis.
3005 shirts later, Pollack is well on his way to getting his name in the Guinness Book of World Records. He maintains his record by keeping a spreadsheet of the date, shirt number and a brief description of what is on the shirt, and receives new shirts weekly from numerous supporters.
But keeping his record going isn’t Pollack’s only focus. He is also diligent in giving back to local and international communities who are in need of clothing. From the Salvation Army to Haiti in the wake of their earthquake, Pollack has donated 2900 of the more than 3000 shirts he’s worn, and he’s looking for another “worthy organization” to whom he can give the next batch of 100 T-shirts.
So what keeps Pollack going?
“I’m not going to stop, because I have people who’ve given me shirts to wear,” he said. “I’m not going to let them down.”