Chapter I: Marcus "Mark" Schussheim--Early U.S. Superstar. 1929: Parker Brothers’ (APPA) "Little Carnegie Playhouse" New York City Championship. 1930: First (APPA) N.Y. Metro Open. 1931: First (APPA) National Championship. 1931: First National Rankings.
In congratulating the New York Metro PPA--that Association clearly identified with Parker Brothers--for adopting "big business methods" to organize its upcoming, reportedly 400-entry tournament at the Hotel Pennsylvania, Herbert S. Allan, writing in the New York Post, said that "the first step" towards building up the sport of ping-pong in the U.S. would be to "develop a national champion." The newspapers, he said, "should be kept informed as to how the champion parts his hair, whether or not he likes spinach and what he thinks about the length of women’s skirts." Further, Allan said, a national body of the sport should be formed and its officials should take every opportunity to discourse to reporters "upon the high ideals of the game and point out its physical and spiritual benefits to the young manhood and womanhood of the country" (GSS I, 42).
So, o.k., for a starter, let me at least credit not only Parker Brothers but New York City’s Tompkins Square (Ave. A and Tenth St.) Boys’ Club--led by its star player and all-around athlete (swimming, basketball, the shot-put, volley ball, handball, tennis) Marcus "Mark" Schussheim--for helping to bring Ping-Pong here in the U.S. back into popularity. After Mark’s fame as our first National Champion, he was boyishly profiled in one of his Club’s "Poisonalities" columns:
"MARCUS SCHUSSHEIM: Ping-pongist unique of the Boys’ Club. Bloomed the 5th [make that the 4th] of August, 1912. Stands 5 feet 7 inches.
Sleeps on his stomach. Snores but claims it is unknown to him. Sleeps in the raw and encourages all to do likewise. Dreams constantly of the opposite sex. Slumbers alone. Drinks lemonade before retiring and upon rising.
Owes his life to an ashcan. At the age of two he fell from the third story directly into the can. Two points! A scar from this ‘shot’ persists beside his left eye.
Combs his hair three times daily.
Nothing pleases his palate more than a broiled steak. Never drank coffee, or--er--beer.
Likes to dunk his bread and crullers.
He’s the president, vice-president, treasurer, board of directors, etc. of his own firm, The Rand Rapid [Messenger] Service Company. Has male secretaries. The mule!
Always helps [Boys Club] ‘Recordmen’ with their ping-pong articles. Can be found every Tuesday and Wednesday in the ‘Record’ room lending a hand. Furnished a good deal of the foregoing information personally. Is reputed to have said, ‘A "Record" is incomplete without my name.’
Sunday is his ‘lady’s night.’
Being a gentleman--he prefers blond[e]s. ‘Love ‘em ‘n’ leave ‘em’ is his motto" (MMS, 57).
Uh-huh, got you and your manhood, Mark.
Just kidding. Schussheim, who in 1936 changed his name to Mark Matthews, has always been ready to share his recollections--like remembering how when he was seven he came to this East Side Boys’ Club, and how his mother, on finding out the yearly membership fee for him was 10 cents, asked if she couldn’t please pay on the installment plan.
Mark would agree that acknowledgement is due Henry C. ("Hank") Randow, future President of both the Metropolitan Ping-Pong Association (1930-31) and the New York Table Tennis Association (1934-35). He was the Games Director for Intermediate Boys (ages 14-17) at Schussheim’s Settlement House who, not content with the Club’s 1927-28 undefeated Boys’Athletic League play, helped Mark and his 1928-31 teammates get into and eventually win the big-time Metropolitan Ping-Pong League.
Of course their first 1929 match against the West Side YMCA had to have been momentarily disconcerting--so many new Ping-Pong rules these young players weren’t used to. Forget about any "Lawn Tennis Count"--you now played each game to 21. And, no, you couldn’t put your free hand on the table without losing a point. Also, you had to alternate shots in doubles (a lot more moving around, huh?). As for the underhand one-bounce "Tennis Service"--now, though it was still understood that only the handle of the racket could be above the wrist, the ball needn’t be struck from under the table but from anyplace up to the server’s waist-line. Oh, the unexpected spin those long-legged players could generate. Perhaps players of below average or even average height, like Mark, felt the need to jump as they served? Or, in this League, did they have to keep one foot on the floor? *
At any event, the double-bounce serve imported from Europe was imminent--though of course it had been seen in the States before. William R. Stewart, author of Table Tennis Tactics (1933) and destined to be the USTTA’s first President, recalled how, during the 1927-28 three-tournament season in Chicago, the "imported from Europe ‘International’ [double] bounce serve was first shown around," and how little interest there was in it (9).
No one could doubt in these beginning years that, wherever one played, the rules had to be decided upon beforehand. Casual players might just drop the ball from the free hand to the table, then, after it bounced, hit it over the net (in the late 1930’s, I myself first learned to serve this way). But APPA league or tournament players were soon asked to follow today’s standardized double-bounce pattern--except that initially the server (sometimes in singles, always in doubles) had to alternate each serve, first from his right "minor court," then from his left (though in doubles to give his partner more room, he could, so long as he struck the ball from behind the width of the table, stand outside the imaginary sidelines). **
Schussheim’s four-year League play against all those Metro players, young and old, under all kinds of close-quarter conditions, built his game. He and his teammates over the years--I think particularly of Abe Krakauer and Alex Gomberg, of Levy and Krowchunok, of Harry "Hesh" Osterweil and Pincus "Pinky" Reinish, of Meyer "Mike" Goldberg, Sol Damsky, Larry Quinn, Morris Berman, and Victor "Vitty" Schaffzin--played and usually won against whomever New York and its environs had to offer. That included the best from the New York Ping-Pong Club (reportedly begun as early as 1927 with eight charter members), the Hakoah Club, and the Art Guild, and also the Westchester White Plains and New Rochelle Clubs. Elsewhere, not Chicago, or St. Louis, or Indianapolis, or any other U.S. city and its surroundings could match the quality of play and depth of players Schussheim and his teammates were continually exposed to.
Parker Brothers’ 1929 (APPA) NYC "Little Carnegie Playhouse" Championship
The first big tournament Schussheim won, in 1929, attracted a lot of entries--18 of his own Boys’ Club members participated. Here’s Mark, in a July 6, 1987 letter to USTTA Executive Vice-President Gus Kennedy, to tell us about it:
"...Parker Bros....owned and copyrighted the name Ping-Pong ["registered in the U.S. Patent Office, August 7, 1928"]. This meant nobody was allowed to manufacture Ping-Pong balls, racquets or tables and call it Ping-Pong other than Parker Bros....[In 1929 they] opened their offices in New York in the Flatiron Building located on 23rd Steet and Fifth Avenue and started a campaign to develop and publicize the game of Ping-Pong. They began by opening a beautiful Ping-Pong Club in New York and invited very prominent citizens to become members, some of whom were fine players....
Parker Bros. was mainly interested in developing the sport so they could sell lots of equipment. [At their plush tournaments they used to have lines of dressed-up tables full of balls and racquets.] The New York Ping-Pong Club was the alter ego of Parker Bros. and they did a fantastic job of putting the game of ping- pong on the map. The New York Ping-Pong Club advertised in the New York newspapers that they were holding a ping-pong tournament for the Championship of New York at the "Little Carnegie Playhouse" on 57th Street, in a private room off the lobby where there was one table....There was no entry fee and if you played, you could also see the show at the playhouse at no extra charge. Every cellar champ and local club champ entered, including myself....After you entered the tournament, you received a card telling you to get in touch with so and so and play your match. On the wall in the ping-pong room at the Little Carnegie Playhouse were four charts with approximately 32 names on each chart and if you won, you put your name in the next bracket...."
Enroute to winning this tournament over his Boys’ Club teammate Pincus Reinish in a straight-game final, Schussheim, playing with a sandpaper racket, vanquished Court Gerstmann of the New York Ping-Pong Club in a key 18, -15, 8 quarter’s match. That Gerstmann could play is clear from Schaad’s description of him:
"...[He] is easily the most brilliant and interesting player to watch we have yet seen in this country. Gerstmann never plays safe. He attacks constantly, has blinding speed, being able to drive with either fore or back hand, has beautiful cut shots and knows how to mix spin strokes with his drives. He has beautiful form and has an easy, graceful motion that makes every stroke look simple..." (36).
Gerstmann was said to be, in the hype that accompanies matches to which the public is invited, the "champion of Germany" (MMS, 21), or, more modestly, the "former champion of Berlin and Leipsig" (MMS, 25), or, still more modestly, and probably incorrectly, the "winner of the Berlin Championship in 1926 (MMS, 1). For certain, though, Gerstmann was a member of the German National Team at the first (Dec. 6-13, 1926) World Championships in London. He played all six Swaythling Cup Men’s Team ties, and, with Germany unable to win a single one and so finishing dead last, his individual record was 4-14. Though in the Singles he lost to an unheralded English player, A. E. Stillwell, in five games in the first round, he did in Team play earlier (back then all nine matches were always played out) beat an eventual Singles quarterfinalist, Dr. A. H. Fyzee, the Provisional President of the Indian TTA and a Davis Cup lawn tennis player.***
Presumably, then, Gerstmann would have known all about, have been excited about, the exploratory meeting Dr. Georg Lehmann, President of the Deutscher Tischtennis-Bund had hosted in Berlin in Jan., 1926 that would result in the formation of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) later that year.
Unlike the great majority of U.S. players at this early time, Gerstmann played with a rubber-faced racket, and it seems for the several years he was on the scene he never lost a match in a tournament to anyone except Schussheim and once to Jimmy Jacobson in an 18-in-the-5th quarter’s match in the 1932 Waldorf-Astoria APPA National’s.
Schussheim says that after he won this Little Carnegie tournament--more likely, however, it’s after he won the 1930 Metro Open--a Parker Brothers representative gave him a present of a rubber racket and that he was then the only player in his Boys’ Club who had one. Perhaps the Club itself would now buy rubber rackets for his teammates? Certainly, as Mark told Director Randow, from now on any player interested in improving his game would sooner or later have to switch from wood, cork, or sandpaper to rubber.
1930 Metropolitan Open, L-R: Champion Marcus Schussheim (second from right) receives his trophy from presenter Francis Hunter; finalist and last year's Champion Count Gerstman. Photo by Tim's Wide World Photos, copyright 1930.
ITTF Chair Montagu’s story of how sometime in 1902 or ‘03 the revolutionary idea of a pippled rubber bat came to an Englishman who’d walked into a chemist’s to get something for a headache and saw the rubber change mat there is well known. But though this covering offered the player more spin variation and control, only slowly did it get into the hands of the American public.
That Apr. 27, 1929 evening after Schussheim had beaten Reinish for the Little Carnegie N.Y. Championship, Gerstmann played a 5-game Exhibition Match with Raymond Verger, the French Champion, who was only in N.Y. for a short visit.
Parker Brothers’ 1930 (APPA) N.Y. Metro Open
A more important tournament won by Schussheim was the first annual Metropolitan Ping-Pong Open Championship, held (only for men) Mar. 24-28, 1930, Monday through Friday, on the roof of New York City’s Pennsylvania Hotel. It was really our first (though unofficial) National’s. The 336-entry draw reads like a Who’s Who or Who Would Soon Be Who in Table Tennis--er, Ping-Pong. In looking ahead to the annotated list of the (25) Ranked and (2) Honorable Mention players Schaad is going to compile at the end of the next, ‘30-’31 season, I note that, except for the Chicago players, almost everyone listed there played earlier in this Metro Open that capped the ‘29-’30 season. So, though historically important many of them are, no hurry about mentioning all of them, they’ll be around for a while.
Of course amateur magician and (author of Lenz on Bridge) contract bridge expert Sidney Lenz, President of the American Ping-Pong Association, was entered in this Parker-promoted Open--though he subsequently defaulted and, at age 56, probably never had any intention of playing, being content to let his 1902 Cairo T.T. Championship finesse for him. After acquiring "a lumber mill and a paper box factory in Wisconsin," Lenz had retired at the age of 31 and become something of a bon vivant. In early Jan., 1932, he would lose a highly publicized contract bridge match against Ely Culbertson who would then replace him as the primary authority in the U.S. (N.Y. Times, Apr. 12, 1959).
Another prominent entry who deserves a first-time mention is Sidney Biddell. In 1936, after editing the USTTA publication Table Tennis Topics, he’d Captain the U.S. Team to the Prague World Championships, and then be elected President of the USTTA (a position he’d almost immediately resign).
And what of Captain Arthur Rowe Spurling of the Royal Flying Corps? Sol Schiff, our mid-1930’s #1 player whom you’ll be hearing about soon, told me that Spurling’s father was Governor-General of Bermuda, and if that wasn’t enough of a distinction, that he used a cut-down squash racket faced with strings and a handle made of ivory--played ping-pong with that. Crazy, huh? But then some of the rackets of the time were wild. One guy, said Sol, put a 100 or so rubber bands both vertically and horizontally round the face of his racket. Too much work, you say? Well, the Durabilt Company learned a little something about mass production: they’d just dip the wooden blade into a vat of boiling hot rubber and--presto!--let the coat harden.
Reporter Evelyn Seeley, writing about this 1930 Metro Championship in the New York World Telegram spoke of an "amazing miscellaneous group": "Bankers and brokers...office boys and clerks, yachtsmen and Y.M.C.A. boys." Many players, she said, "spoke in Continental accents." Screened in on the Hotel Pennsylvania roof "by a net, [they] clicked away with rubber racquets and hard white balls, sounding like the ‘ammer, ‘ammer, ‘ammer of ‘orses ‘oofs on the ‘ard ‘ighway." Not only was the game "extremely fast and played with great intensity," Ms. Seeley said, but it was "markedly polite." True, "one player, moved to exasperation by his partner’s [read opponent’s] tricky volleying, was heard to exclaim ‘Damn!’ but he quickly regained his poise" (MMS, 36).
Quarterfinalists in this tournament included Ed Svigals (from the White Plains Club) and Neil Schaad (from the New Rochelle American Legion Club); Abe Zeller and Sam Lieblich (from the Hakoah Club); William S. Samuels and Court Gerstmann (from the New York Ping-Pong Club) and Alex Gomberg and Marcus Schussheim (from the Boys’ Club). Lieblich, usually billed as the "former Champion of Poland" (in reality he was the "former Champion of Lemberg, Poland"?), had downed Hakoah Club teammate Joe Preminger, 19-in-the-3rd in the 1/8th’s, after Preminger had earlier upset one of the country’s best penholders, William C. "Chet" Wells, Jr., a high school teacher of Romance languages from the University Club of Mt. Vernon. Samuels, who was then the President of the Metropolitan Ping-Pong Association, had to go three in the 1/8’s to get by Fred C. George of the Art Guild. Gerstmann, too, had been extended--by Hakoah’s Dave Pressberg who had beaten both Jimmy Jacobson, a future APPA National Champ, and Elisio Da Silva, "champion of Portugal." The "champion of Japan," Kitara Tamada, was defeated in the 4th round by Walter M. Gray, "former champion of Scotland."
The 3-out-of-5 quarter’s, semi’s, and final were for the most part anti-climactic:
Quarter’s: Schussheim d. Samuels, 21, 14, 12; Zeller d. Gomberg, 13, 18, 18; Lieblich d. Svigals, 20, 20, 16; Gerstmann d, Schaad, 13, 16, -19, 18. Semi’s: Schussheim d. Zeller, 9, 8, 13; Gerstmann d. Lieblich, 17, 18, 13. Final: Schussheim d. Gerstmann, 12, 17, 14.The ninth and final round of this 1930 unofficial National’s--played at 1 a.m.--was umpired by APPA Vice-President and tennis celebrity Francis T. "Frank" Hunter (Bill Tilden’s doubles partner?), elegantly dressed in a tux of course, and was watched by a crowd of 400 (MMS, 3).
Afterwards, as a number of Parker Brothers officials, including Mr. G.S. Parker, looked on, a trophy was presented to Mr. Schussheim by Mr. Hunter. One wonders though if, in the "moving pictures" of this tournament that Parker Brothers advertised were being distributed round the country by Pathe and Universal News Reels, we’d see a close-up of Mark accepting his trophy. For the odd thing was (as the best Parker Brothers photo of the day shows) not Mr. Schussheim, or Mr. Parker, or any official, or even any bystander, is smiling (MMS, 83). Would this then cause Herbert Allan to worry that the high ideals of the sport might be in jeopardy? Would the public think the ping-pong action here "frivolous"? After all, the "big business methods" and "spiritual benefits" didn’t seem to come happily together in this Lower Eastside Champion. As Allan had said, "The cardinal American principle that sport must have a higher raison d’etre than pleasure never should be lost" (GSS I, 42). Had it been here?
"Winning that first big Championship," Mark was to say years later after a successful business career, "gave me the feeling I could do anything." A cocky kid, was he? No doubt. "But," said Mark, "if you don’t think that way, you’ll never be good."
A week later, on Monday, Apr. 7, 1930, no less a personage than the ITTF Chair Ivor Montagu himself watched as Schussheim, this time on his own Boys’ Club turf, was again presented with his Metro Cup. Montagu, playing in the evening’s "Montagu Invitation Tournament," had an at-first-difficult-to-return rubber racket serve, but T. Roland Jones finally got the better of him in 3. In the final, Schussheim, down 1-0 and 20-16 match point, and down again 19-16 in the deciding 3rd, rallied to beat Gerstmann (MMS, 26).
To end the ‘29-’30 season, Schussheim also won the Eastern Open Ping-Pong Championships, held Apr. 21-26 at the Kingston Tennis and Ping-Pong Club of Brooklyn. Encouragingly, this tournament had not only the standard Men’s event (the 19, 20, 20 final won by Schussheim over Alex Gomberg who earlier had been forced into the 5th by both Ed Cohen in the quarter’s and Sam Lieblich in the semi’s), but also a Women’s (won by Fannie Magaric over Freda Weill), and a Junior’s (won by Morris Berman, who, after escaping "Mike" Goldberg, -14, 19, 9, prevailed over Abe Krakauer).
1930 Eastern Open, L-R: Men's Finalist Alexander Gomberg; Women's Champion Fanale Magarik; Men's Champion Marcus Schussheim; Junior Champion Morris Berman; Women's Finalist Frieda Weill; Junior Finalist Abraham Krakauer. Photo by Lefkowitz, copyright 1930.
The Women’s titleholder at these 1930 Eastern’s, Fannie Magaric (Ma-GAR-ic), will soon become Mrs. Fan Magaric-Pockrose and will go on to win the 1933 New York Table Tennis Association’s (NYTTA’s) National Championship. Thirty-five years later, in another incarnation--that of Dr. Fan Parker, Professor of Russian Culture at Brooklyn College--she’ll turn up playing just for fun at Danny Ganz’s Rockville Centre Club on Long Island (TTT, July, 1968, 12). As we’ll see, it’s not uncommon for players to abruptly leave the sport then return years or even decades later...to play casually or seriously. Berman, the Junior winner, was a member of the Second Team at Schussheim’s Boys’ Club. He’ll grow up to earn Sol Schiff’s admiration as having "the best fingerspin serves I’ve ever seen"--which, given Sol’s later prowess in the art, is saying quite a lot.
Parker Brothers’ 1931 (APPA) National Championship
One of the early ‘30-’31 season tourneys--the Paramount Miniature Golf Course Tournament--was of some historic importance not only for its misleading title but for the fact that Schussheim, who beat Lieblich in the final, was hard-pressed in his 5-game semi’s by Jimmy Jacobson who had him down 2-0. But more about Jacobson later.
The first official National Ping-Pong Championship was held Mar. 25-28, 1931, again at the Pennsylvania Hotel in New York City. There were 369 entries (nearly 150 of whom drew first round byes), each paying a $1 entry fee. The great majority were from the New York-New Jersey area, but there were also a dozen or so outside cities represented. Reportedly, over 700 players had tried to get in, but the field, which was going to start on only eight tables (later increased to 16), had to be restricted. Again, the competition was only for men.
The closeness of the tables, players, and spectators prompted one reporter to point out an advantageous feature of the tournament--namely how "the audience may collect half a dozen or so ping pong balls during the evening, for the players knock many wild. Autographed by the ‘international’ players present, they make excellent souvenirs" (MMS, 44).
The only two players of any note to enter this ‘31 "official" National’s who didn’t enter the unofficial one in ‘30 were Coleman Clark from the Interfraternity Club of Chicago, who’d just recently won the Western Championship (over Max Rushakoff and a reported 207 other entries from six mid-western states), and J.R. Leininger, also a member of that same Interfraternity Club, who’d been "Windy City ping pong king in 1930," with Clark runner-up. Here in New York Clark would be beaten in the 1/8’s, Leininger earlier.
One reporter describing the scene had this to say:
"...Umpires sat opposite each net, and 1,000 spectators registered enthusiasm with polite hand clapping. The players bowed, apologized, and treated each other with deference.
Only the costumes furnished a contrast to the white of Forest Hills. Anything went. Some wore tennis shoes. Some wore storm rubbers over their shoes to prevent slipping. Some played in coats [and knickers] and others considered shirt- sleeves and brilliant suspenders the proper outfit" (MMS, 43).
All players were supposed to wear colored shirts. But when one young man appeared on opening night in a white shirt, pleading that that was the only shirt he had with him, the officials, though fearful of white ball on white background, let him play anyway (MMS, 45).
And the about-to-be-named "official" Champion, Schussheim, how did he look? Well, to jump ahead for a moment, here’s N.Y. World Telegram columnist Joe Williams, being more than a litle snide, a little superior, telling us in a post-tournament rewrite article in the magazine Judge:
"If you are interested, the current national champion is a gentleman named Mr. Marcus Schussheim of New York, who is by way of something of a sports celebrity in his own name, which is pronounced as if you were singing ‘Shush shine on, silvery moon.’
Mr. Schussheim is a very young man ["in," as the writer’s earlier version in the World Telegram had it, "his early Woolworth’s, which is to say his teens or twenties,"] with a sort of Jimmy Durante, junior, size nose, and he comes bounding on to the floor with his sleeves rolled up to the elbows and his dark hair severely flattened out under generous spreads of slickum.
Mr. Schussheim tells the press that he owes his pre-eminence in the sport to subway rushes, food in automats, park-plan dances, and plenty of good old soot- soaked air" (MMS, 46 and 77a).
In short, if you are interested, Mark in his young manhood is not yet to everyone the ideal champion of an ideal sport.
The late-round matches that resulted in Schussheim winning our first National Championships are as follows:
Eighth’s: Marcus Schussheim d. Jimmy Jacobson, 17, 19; Morris Berman d. Alex Markman, 21, 20; Harry Osterweil d. Seymour Solomon, 10, 16; T. Roland Jones d. Francis J. MacCoy, 13, 12; Sam Lieblich d. Bernie Joel, 14, 13; Ed Svigals d. Roy Katz, 18, -14, 18; Elisio Da Silva d. "Vitty" Schaffzin, -13, 13, 10; William C. Wells, Jr. d. Coleman Clark, 19, -16, 14. Quarter’s: Schussheim d. Berman, 13, 8, 22; Osterweil d. Jones, 11, 12, 19; Svigals d. Lieblich, 12, 17, 15; Wells d. Da Silva, -14, 20, -25, 16, 16. Semi’s: Schussheim d. Osterweil, 18, 13, 9; Svigals d. Wells, -16, 15, 15, 16. Final: Schussheim d. Svigals, 14, 15, 18.
The 21-18 final game of the final match between Schussheim and Svigals was broadcast (apparently not very successfully) over WEAF by Graham McNamee.
First (1931) National Rankings:
Getting some public attention, too, at least via the local New Rochelle, N.Y. paper, was Neil Schaad’s season-ending 1930-1931 National Ping-Pong Rankings. Though this was not an "official" listing (none for the ‘30-’31 season ever appeared), it’s significant enough to be reproduced in entirety here, for it was the first such Ranking list ever compiled:
"Unofficial 1930-31 National Ping-Pong Ranking:
1. M. Schussheim, Boys Club, New York, winner of National tournament and undefeated in Metropolitan League matches.
2. Edward Svigals, White Plains, runner-up in National tournament and winner of Westchester County tournament.
3. W. C. Wells, Jr., Mount Vernon, semi-finalist in National tournament, runner-up in Spa tournament, runner- up in Westchester County tournament, and winner of Mt. Vernon City tournament.
4. S. Lieblich, Hakoah of New York, undefeated in league competition and winner of Bronx Championship.
5. James Jacobson, New Rochelle, city champion, carried Schussheim to five games in Paramount tournament and best record of any of Westchester Independents in team competition.
6. E. De Silva [make that Da Silva], Art Guild, New York, fine record in league competition and runner-up in Bronx Championship.
7. H. Osterweil, Boys Club, New York, semi-finalist in National tournament and splendid league record.
8. Preminger, Hakoah of New York, fine league record.
9. Coleman Clark, Interfraternity Club, Chicago, Ill., winner Western, Chicago District, North Shore, Shawnee tournaments and excellent showing in National.
10. T. Roland Jones, Art Guild, New York, fine showing in National and good league record.
11. M. [for Morris] Block, New Rochelle, took one game from Schussheim in National and one of Westchester’s best.
12. B. Joel, Art Guild, New York, fine league record.
13. Goldberg, Boys Club, New York, good league record.
14. V. Schaffzin, Boys Club, New York, good league record.
15. Berman, Boys Club, New York, good league record.
16. Roy Katz, Flatbush Boys Club, Brooklyn, best forehand drive in game.
17. S. [for Sydney] Heitner, winner of Spa tournament.
18. P. [for Phil] Miller, Senior Boys Club, New York, semi-finalist in Spa tournament and a comer.
19. A. Zeller, Hakoah, New York.
20. H. [for Henry] Rabinowitz [make that Rabinowicz], Hakoah, New York, one of steadiest players in the United States.
21. W. [but possibly instead S. E.] Keating, Kingston Club, Brooklyn, a hard hitter and Long Island Champion.
22. [Alex] Urbanus ["former Lithuanian titleholder"], Russian Social Club, fine stylist. [Later, as Alex Urban he’ll be managing the NYC Lexington Ave. Mid- Town Courts and still later the Reading, PA Coconut Grove Table Tennis Courts.]
23. [Max] Rushakoff, Chicago, Ill., runner-up Western, Illinois State ‘Y’ champion.
24. Yoskio [make that Yoshio] Fushimi, Japanese of Chicago, Ill., runner-up Chicago District.
25. R. [for "Ray"] Leininger, Interfraternity Club, Chicago, Ill., runner-up South Side and Shawnee tournaments....
I consider George T. Bacon, Jr., of New Rochelle one of the best players in the country and would rank him fifth nationally, but because of insufficient data, I have not ranked him at all. He has scored victories over such players as Wells, Jacobson and Svigals. He defeated Rogers in the Spa tournament and was only beaten by Keating in five games after the latter had eliminated Osterweil. He also defeated T. Roland Jones in the Bronx tournament. But he was defeated by De Silva [Da Silva] in the National and by Lieblich in the Bronx and because of his few [tournaments] and rather unimpressive tournament record, I cannot rank him....
Willard Rogers, Jr., of Summit, N.J., I have not ranked because of [a] mediocre tournament record. When at his best he is a match for any player in the country, but he loves to play to the gallery and is inclined to be erratic. However, he is one of our most colorful players...(MMS, 58).
[Colorful? "Rogers was a guy who’d yell even before he hit the ball," said his contemporary Joe Blatt who, just beginning the first of his many decades of play, would quickly be among the top dozen or so players in the APPA’s Eastern Rankings. Rogers was called "The Bounding Basque" (after the dashing French Davis Cup "Musketeer" Jean Borotra). Why? Because, said one observer, "He tears after a ball like a whippet after a fake rabbit, makes impossible gets and returns, and on occasion will favor you with a neat back flip as he dives from one side of the table to the other."]"****
So. With these Rankings, Schaad, the Ping-Pong authority of the time, had spoken--and young Schussheim, U.S. #1, was confident, content, sitting pretty was he? It would seem so, for here again is the snide Joe Williams: "‘Ping-Pong is an art with me,’ says Mr. Shoeshine with feeling, ‘and there is not enough money in America to make me turn professional’" (MMS, 46).
Wow, in these tough times, did Mark really say that? This Lower Eastsider was a true-blue amateur, was he? Of course in the U.S., where amateur play was encouraged and table tennis was in its infancy, there weren’t any professional table tennis players. And, as Mark surely knew, unless Parker Brothers in time could provide a market, how could he, needing to make a living, already running his own messenger service, even for a moment seriously consider turning professional? What was the point? So, yes, it would have been easy for him to insist on remaining a "pure" amateur--he hadn’t the opportunity to prostitute himself, his sport, for money.
*(ITTF’s) Table Tennis Digest No. 3, Oct., 1989, 30-32. The John Jaques and Son Ltd. Handbook of the early 1920’s authorized by the English Ping-Pong Association
said that the one-bounce serve had to be underhand--with just the handle of the racket above the wrist, and the ball struck from "below the level of the waist." The server couldn’t jump--one foot had to remain on the floor. Players changed "courts" (opposite sides) when "the points scored reached 5, 15, 25, and 35." Not 21 but 20-point games were played, and if the score were 19-all, "the best of 5 points" would decide the game. Oddly, too (and, see Schaad, 88-89, this rule was at first carried over by the APPA), if the server whiffed his own serve, he wouldn’t lose the point.
**Schaad, 88 and 92. Schaad explains how "the net divides the table into two major courts" and how for doubles the "lengthwise center line divides each of the major courts into two minor courts (86). When Schussheim and his teammates played their first (1928-29) Metro League match, they apparently were unaccustomed to seeing "the table marked off as in tennis for the service (MMS, 15). On Apr. 18, 1934, Montagu wrote ITTF member nations asking if they really wanted to keep this center line, or, if, in doubles as in singles, they wouldn’t perhaps prefer serving "onto any part of the table" (TTT, May-June, 1934, 2).
***See the London Table Tennis Congress Programme in the Neuberger-compiled World Championships, 1926-33 (14): H. G. Lindenstaedt, 22-years-old at the 1926 Championships, "won the Berlin Championship in 1923-4, 1924-5, 1925-6." The teenage Gerstmann had no listed titles and "lacks experience." Conceivably, though, he could have won the 1926-27 Berlin Championship. A "Berliner Tisch-Tennis Verband" (Berlin Table Tennis Federation) calender pic (photo from the "Internationales Tischtennis Archiv, Weinheim") shows H.G. Lindenstaedt, Daniel Prenn, and Court Gerstmann of the German Team at the 1926 World’s.
****Ed Meara in the May 18, 1934 Trenton, N.J. Times.