Garfinkel, Dutch : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Garfinkel, Dutch

Jack Garfinkel

A member of the St. John's University Hall of Fame and the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame, Garfinkel played on the very first Boston Celtics team. Dutch was a colorful personality and a great player in the early days of the NBA. Howie McHugh, the Celtics' publicist for years, said, "Dutch was a great passer, perhaps the Bob Cousy of his day...I remember him hitting five sets in a row one night and then throwing in the sixth from mid-court and throwing kisses to the crowd."

Leonard Lewin, dean of New York sportswriters, made the following observation to this web site (February 22, 2001), "Dutch was one of the great passers of all time. Dick McGuire learned from him, and Dick McGuire is considered one of the great passers of all time." Among his many notable distinctions, Dutch is credited with being the first to initiate the "look-away" pass that has become such a crowd-pleasing staple of today's game. Garfinkel did it not to show off -- an eloquent advocate of team play, Dutch disapproves of ostentation for its own sake -- but to provide easier, open shots for teammates left unguarded by unsuspecting defenders.

Of course, his teammates had to adjust to Dutch's phenomenal level of skill, and to the hard "bullet" passes he threw which were so difficult for a rival to intercept. "I broke fingers on the hands of four different players," he observed (in an interview with this web site on March 2, 2001).

Birth and Death Dates:
b. June 13, 1918

Career Highlights:
A graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn (where he helped his team win the PSAL title in 1936), Garfinkel intended to play college basketball at George Washington University. When the representative from that school did not show up at a scheduled meeting, however, he decided to enroll at St. John's University in Brooklyn. A highly-touted sophomore in 1938-39, Garfinkel was immediately plugged into the starting line-up as the team's point guard. His coach Joe Lapchick said, "The kid gives me something I've never had before -- a playmaker. He's the best passer I've ever seen since [Hall of Famer Nat] Holman. No fooling, he can throw a blind pass harder and more accurate than most players can unload a spot pass...if we didn't have him, you'd see some of our guys running around like hopheads."

Garfinkel helped the Redmen win their first three games of the season before they played Northwestern in a double-header at Madison Square Garden. Prior to the game against Northwestern, St. John's season was placed in Dutch's hands. The New York Times wrote, "If Garfinkel is strictly as advertised, the Redmen will have the best balanced team, at least in the [New York] Metropolitan area. Garfinkel is a type almost extinct now -- a shrewd, deft playmaker...[coach Joe] Lapchick fears that Garfinkel, around whom the entire attack has been fashioned, will get the sophomore shakes at the Garden..."

St. John's defeated Northwestern by a score of 49-41. The newspapers wrote that Dutch not only lived up to the high expectations placed on him, but he exceeded them, and that, "...his split-vision passes, his unerring accuracy in feeding the ball and his complete control of every situation made him the hub of the St. John's wheel. Everything revolved around him..." During the regular season, Garfinkel was the team's fifth-leading scorer with 95 points (35th in the Metropolitan area) and was named Madison Square Garden third team All-America and first team All-Metropolitan while leading St. John's to its first appearance in the NIT (National Invitational Tournament).

Along with the team's high-scorer, senior forward Ralph Dolgoff, Dutch led the the Redmen to a regular season record of 17-2. In the first round of the tournament, Garfinkel scored five points, and St. John's defeated Roanoke College, 71-47. In the next round, they played Loyola (Chicago), led by All-America center Mike Novak and coached by Hall of Famer, Leonard Sachs. Dutch scored 10 points, but Novak blocked nine shots and intimidated the Redmen, who lost 51-46 in overtime. In the consolation game, St. John's lost to Bradley, 40-35, to finish in fourth place.

In 1939-40, Garfinkel was named second team All-Metropolitan and finished third on the team in scoring with 108 points (23rd in the Met area). The Redmen finished with a regular season record of 15-3 and returned to the NIT. In their first-round game against Duquesne, led by All-America forward Moe Becker, Dutch scored eight points, but St. John's lost 38-31.

In 1940-41, Dutch captained the St. John's basketball team and won the Haggerty Award, which is still given annually to the outstanding player in the Metropolitan New York area. The team's third-leading scorer with 119 points (7.0 average), Dutch led the Redmen to a record of 11-6. That year, Walter McLaughlin, St. John's Athletic Director for 39 years, remarked that "Dutch was the most unselfish player we've ever had. Perhaps he didn't score all that much, but he had a hand in everybody else scoring."

After his stellar collegiate career, Dutch played professional basketball in the ABL (American Basketball League, the NBL (National Basketball League), the New York State League, and the BAA (Basketball Association of America -- predecessor of the NBA). Immediately after his senior season, Dutch began to play professionally with the Baltimore Clippers (in the ABL) and appeared in six games during the 1940-41 season. The following year, he played for the Trenton Tigers. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II and then, in 1944-45, he played for the Philadelphia Sphas (the nickname stood for the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association) and was the team's third-leading scorer (6.0 points per game) as the team captured the ABL championship.

In 1946-46, Garfinkel switched leagues to the NBL, playing for the Rochester Royals, which were coached by Hall of Famer Les Harrison. In a backcourt loaded with talent such as future New York Knicks head coach, Red Holzman, Al Cervi, and Bob Davies, Dutch helped lead the Royals to the league title. He played in 28 games and scored 47 points.

The following season, Dutch played for the Boston Celtics in the newly formed BAA (Basketball Association of America). In 1946-47, he appeared in 40 games and averaged 4.5 points and 1.5 assists per game, although Boston finished in last place in the Eastern Division with a record of 22-38. In 1947-48, Dutch played in 43 games and averaged a career-high 6.1 points per game, but the Celtics finished 20-28 and lost to the Max Zaslofsky-led Chicago Stags in the playoffs, 2-1. Garfinkel played in all three games of the series, scoring 22 points, with 7 assists. His final season in the league came in 1948-49, when Boston finished 25-35, and again missed the playoffs. Dutch, who played in only nine games that year, averaged 3.8 points and 2.1 assists per game. He did not play in the league again, which soon merged with the NBL and changed its name to the NBA (National Basketball Association) in 1949-50.

After his playing days, Dutch became a coach and referee. He officiated high school games in New York City, collegiate games in the Eastern College Athletic Conference, and in the Eastern Pro League. He is a member of St. John's University Hall of Fame, and the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame.

Brooklyn, New York

Career Dates:
Dutch played at St. John's, 1939-1941. He played in the ABL for the Baltimore Clippers (1940-41) and Trenton Tigers 1941-42, and the Philadelphia Sphas, 1944-45. He played in the NBL with the Rochester Royals 1945-1947, and in the NBA for the Boston Celtics 1946-1949.

Physical description:
6'0", 190 pounds

Career Statistics:
In the NBA:
Games: 92
Points: 476
Points Per Game: 5.2

Field Goals Made: 207
Field Goals Attempted: 754
Field Goal Percentage: .275

Free Throws Made: 62
Free Throws Attempted: 88
Free Throw Percentage: .705

Rebounds: not available
Assists: 134
Assists Per Game: 1.5
Personal Fouls: 159

NBA playoffs:
Games: 3
Points: 22
Points Per Game: 7.3

Field Goals Made: 7
Field Goals Attempted: 23
Field Goal Percentage: .304

Free Throws Made: 8
Free Throws Attempted: 10
Free Throw Percentage: .800
Rebounds: not available
Assists: 7
Assists Per Game: 2.3
Personal Fouls: 15

In the NBL:
Games: 28
Points: 47
Points Per Game: 1.7

Field Goals Made: 19
Field Goals Attempted: not available

Free Throws Made: 9
Free Throws Attempted: not available

Rebounds: not available
Assists: not available
Personal Fouls: not available

NBL playoffs:
Games: 6
Points: 3
Points Per Game: 0.5

Field Goals Made: 1
Field Goals Attempted: not available

Free Throws Made: 1
Free Throws Attempted: 3
Free Throw Percentage: .333

Rebounds: not available
Assists: not available
Personal Fouls: 1

Use links below to navigate through the basketball section of Jews In Sports.

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encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)
The Official NBA Encyclopedia: Third Edition, edited by Jan Hubbard (New York: Doubleday, 2000)
Ronald Encyclopedia of Basketball, edited by William G. Mokray (Ronald Press: 1962)
New York Times, December 13, 1938
New York Times, December 15, 1938