Talk about your low budget ventures.
Three years ago, Jim Brownfield was trying to make his fledgling Hall of Fame All-Star high school football game successful with as few frills as possible.
Brownfield decided to save a few dollars by doing without a bank guard to watch over the gate receipts.
When the 1983 game at Citrus College was over, he put the money into his briefcase, which he then locked in the trunk of his car while he went with friends to an Azusa restaurant. After eating, he found that the trunk had been broken into and the money stolen.
It wasn't exactly the Brink's job, but it cost the game $7,100, which would have gone to scholarship funds for high school athletes in the San Gabriel Valley.
"I was embarrassed because it made me look like one of the Three Stooges," Brownfield said. But the game, featuring the San Gabriel Valley's best graduated senior football players, survived. The seventh edition will be played Aug. 8 at Arroyo High School.
This is the season of summertime all-star football games in Southern California, the idea behind them being to provide the most for the players, coaches, fans and a slew of worthy charities, all on a tight budget.
And for the organizers--the people doing the providing--this means assuming the jobs of public relations, talent scouting, ticket selling and, as in Brownfield's case, security guard.
It's not a case of trying to outshine the Shrine All-Star game, the granddaddy of the local all-star games, but each attempts to find its own niche in the Shrine's shadow.
The 605 All-Star game is typical. Twenty-nine schools from southeast Los Angeles County were represented in the July 18 game.
Like others, including the Hall of Fame game, it suffered financial, attendance and organization woes.
The Whittier Kiwanis Club ran the game for the 18 years but, during the last five, interest dwindled to practically nothing. The La Mirada Kiwanis took over planning promotion of the game last spring and started from scratch.
"We felt like, going in, whatever we did this year, it would be better the next year," said Peter Dames, the game's first-year director.
Attendance had averaged between 2,200 and 2,500 for the last five games. The first thing Dames did was move the game from 12,000-seat Cerritos College Stadium to La Mirada High School, which holds 8,800.
Rent at La Mirada is cheaper, too, about $2,000 less than at Cerritos.
Dames thus followed the Hall of Fame's lead. Brownfield moved the Hall of Fame game to Arroyo High School the year after the theft at Citrus College, and the game has nearly filled Arroyo's 5,000-seat stadium each year since the move in 1984. And rent there is just $300, compared to $3,100 at Citrus.
Next, Dames trimmed the number of participating schools, cutting out Moore League schools such as Long Beach Poly and Millikan. Then he switched the format from North-South to East-West, taking advantage of the game's namesake, the 605 Freeway, as the dividing line.
"Before, a player would say, 'This year our school is on the south and last year it was on the north,' " Dames said. It did little to help the game's credibility.
Dames' changes seemed to help, since 3,500 fans came to the recent game, thus increasing the money earned for Kiwanis charities.
Before raising money for charity, however, organizers must cover the 60-90 participating players--depending on the game--with insurance policies.
The Hall of Fame game, for example, pays $1,250 for its insurance. The policy covers the 10 days of practice and the game itself, giving the players up to $100,000 in medical benefits.
Most games offer a few variations from the football rules of the California Interscholastic Federation. The Orange County All-Star game, held July 11, is similar to most in this respect.
A sampling of the Orange County rules:
--A team trailing by eight points or more after scoring may elect to receive the ensuing kickoff.
--Blitzing is not allowed.
--A team can return a kickoff that has gone into the end zone.
--On a pass interference penalty, a first down is awarded to the offense at the spot of the foul.
None of these rules detract from the game in any noticeable manner. Nor from the players' enthusiasm for the games.
Just ask Cary Caulfield.
Caulfield, an All-Southern Section linebacker last fall from Canyon Country Canyon High, had reported to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. But Caulfield was selected to play in the Daily News All-Star game July 18.
So he got special permission from the commandant of cadets to return to the San Fernando Valley to play.
Said the 605's Dames: "(These) games are showcases for some of the kids who are not going to be taken in by the Shrine game. If we don't do it right, we suffer the consequences. We don't want people to say 'This was a terrible game. I don't want to be a part of that again.' "