USA Table Tennis
- Chapter 1
- Chapter 2
- Chapter 3
- Chapter 4
- Chapter 5
- Chapter 6
- Chapter 7
- Chapter 8
- Chapter 9
- Chapter 10
- Chapter 11
- Chapter 12
- Chapter 13
- Chapter 14
- Chapter 15
- Chapter 16
- Chapter 17
- Chapter 18
- Chapter 19
- Chapter 20
- Chapter 21
- Chapter 22
- Chapter 23
- Chapter 24
- Chapter 25
- Chapter 26
- Chapter 27
- Chapter 28
- Chapter 29
1984: USTTA Miscellany.
Before I continue on with more USTTA-held tournaments, I want to keep you apprised of the Association’s most recent preoccupations.
I’ll begin with Sue Butler’s “Where Have All The Juniors Gone?” (Timmy’s, Feb.-Mar., 1984, 19-20). She starts to develop a pertinent analogy by quoting the following Letter to the Editor that appeared in the Feb., 1984 issue of SKIING MAGAZINE:
“Do I have a chance to become a professional or even an Olympic ski racer? I’ve been skiing for six years, since I was 10. I’ve picked up the sport easily and am now getting used to paralleling. I get in about 20 days of skiing during lucky seasons. I would like to move to snow country so I can practice every day. My parents think my dream is a bit wild, but I think one can do anything when one wants to badly enough. If you think I have a chance, how do I go about moving from dream to reality?”
The reply: “The U.S. Ski Team selection system is now very much against your becoming an Olympic racer. Late-maturing skiers (i. e., 16 to 18-years old) don’t stand much chance of catching up on the extensive year-round training that Olympic hopefuls enjoy because they haven’t had the benefit of the five to ten years of annual competition and supervision by dedicated parents and enthusiastic coaches. Most Olympians at age 16 would have already placed in the ranks of the top 15 at national junior championships and would be skiing close to 100 days a season. Should you be lucky enough to attend a high school or prep school in snow country, you might be able to make a college ski team. After four to six years of that, you might be proficient enough to earn a living on a pro circuit. By that time, even if your interests in ski racing haven’t waned, you certainly ought to be well equipped to find employment at a ski area, especially if you also studied topics leading toward some sort of business career.”
Sue of course makes the point that it’s the same in a number of sports—including table tennis. She says (and how discouraging this must be to many young enthusiasts and their parents), “If you really want to make the big-time it takes years of training, coaching, competition, and financial support in addition to talent, a desire to compete, and a love for the sport.” [So of course in 1984 look at the U.S. Closed results, and from the U-17’s down to the U-11’s there you might find—and it’s no accident—Sean O’Neill, Brian Masters, Quang Bui, Khoa Nguyen, Scott Butler, Jim Butler, Brandon Olson, Dhiren Narotam, and Eric Owens; and Lan Vuong, Diana and Lisa Gee, Jasmine Wang, Vicki Wong, and Cheryl Dadian…to be followed by Chi-sun Chui, Todd Sweeris, Barney Reed, and Li Ai—Juniors sure to make their mark by 1988.]
Sue wants to know where—fewer now than in the past—the formidable challengers to these years-to-come winners are. Of course she knows that “without family and financial support” aspiring enthusiasts have no chance to even try “to climb the mountain” to success. Moreover, what’s the reward as they try to climb? Does anybody, as they go about their everyday school lives, care—except maybe to say, “What weird thing are you doing?”
But, says Sue, there are options that could be pursued to improve the woeful Junior situation. And woeful Sue proves it is by citing the total number of Junior Boys who played in our ’83 Closed: U-9 (2); U-11 (4); U-13 (6); U-15 (8); U-17 (10)—and, worse, there’s over-lapping among the 13-15 and 15-17 entries. Sue feels that it’d be much better to hold the National’s for the Juniors when they’re out of school in the summer, and, in an economical move, combine them with the Junior Olympics. This would bring young players—including the Butler brothers (and their parents)—at least some media recognition they’re not now getting. [Hey, try it—what’s to lose? But the requirements for stardom won’t change, and those long in front won’t easily be replaced, and when they are it’ll be by others who’ve likewise paid their dues.] Anyway, give lots of credit to Sue and husband Dick—he’s the National Tournament Director for the Junior Olympics, as well as the Junior Olympics Chair. With the hope of interesting thousands of kids—really interesting them as Ron Shirley has done with hundreds in Oklahoma City—they’ve enthusiastically set up a USTTA Junior Development Group with members having special duties who’ll be supported by State Directors.
One representative figure, a model, for this Junior Development Group would have to be Joe Shumaker. In an article, “Junior Success in Indiana” (SPIN, Mar., ’84, 7), he explains why “raising money for youth table tennis is not as hard as you might think”:
“Since there were so many kids playing table tennis in the Indianapolis Boys Clubs, I decided to run a raffle. I went to each of the three Boys Clubs that I have worked with to see if they would help sell tickets. I told them I would furnish them with a good used table.
I also promised them I would use part of the proceeds to bring in Danny and Ricky Seemiller for a table tennis exhibition in each of these Boys Clubs, plus a training camp at the Keenan Stahl Boys Club. Also, after the Seemiller brothers, I would bring in USTTA National Development Coach Henan Li Ai for further coaching. [Henan said that “Boys Clubs are like spare-time sports schools.”] In addition, I would also give trophies for all the major Boys Clubs tournaments.
At the state Boys Club team tournaments in April, each of the 35 clubs will have a team and the tournament will draw around 150 players. Each match will be umpired by a Boys Club director. And each individual winner of each age group (U-10, U-12, U-14, U-16, and U-18) will receive a jacket. The jacket will be similar to a high school varsity-letter jacket and the back of the jacket will say, ‘1984 Indiana Boys Club State Champion.’
Since my raffle was a success, I have written to large companies in the Indianapolis area for small donations to help send a Boys Club team to the National Junior Olympic Tournament [in Jacksonville, FL Aug. 13-19]….
I would like to thank the Keenan Stahl Boys clubs and their director Chuck Smith; program director Melvin Wright; and physical director Jim Spalding for all their help and faith in me. Also, thanks to the Lagore and Lebanon Boys Clubs for all their support.”
Danny and Ricky Seemiller (Timmy’s, Feb.-Mar., 1984, 19) were giving some gotta-make-a-living exhibitions and clinics in the area (“Have you ever been in the high schools in basketball-crazy Indiana?” said Danny—“some of their gyms seat 12,000”). So, sure enough, as promised, they spent a week at Joe’s club—a mecca for maybe 75 exuberant but generally disciplined kids.
“Anyone can teach kids how to get started,” said Danny. “All you have to have is a place to do it in. So what if the tables aren’t lined up together [Joe picked up most of them here and there for maybe $15-20]—you stick one here in this room, another in a corner of that one; they’re used. These kids Joe and his staff see day in, day out—especially the ones not tall enough for basketball—have nothing to do in the wintertime. You give them some supervision, organize them into age groups, and you might be surprised how many of them will show up as regularly as Joe does from 3-9 p.m. [Everyone, including the kids, call him “Joe.”]
Joe works his first job of the day for Eli Lliiy, a company supportive of Shumaker’s Boys Club work. On Joe’s second shift he volunteers to try to turn his kids onto table tennis. Have you seen little “Bird” play? He’s only 7 but he can hit the ball back and forth 100 times without missing. That is, if he can ever find and keep his racket which some bigger bird keeps taking from its resting place. Also, have you seen our Clark Yeh (8) and John Elwood (12) play? They’re pretty good, and getting better.
Many of the kids come from poor or relatively poor families, and of course they’re looking for FREE fun. Naturally, too, their parents want them to go where there’s at least some structure and purpose instead of just hangin’ aimlessly about and getting into trouble. As a reward for some of his most improved charges Joe took them to a tournament at Lyle Thiem’s Dayton, Ohio Club to see the sport played seriously, and they were most appreciative.
How to get young people, students, to play this sport—that’s been many a well-wisher’s thought. “It’s so difficult to get table tennis into the schools,” says Danny—“at least in Indiana. Each and every little district has to vote on any change affecting the whole, and unless the percentage of approval is overwhelming, there’s no change. So it’s not just a question of convincing one or two key people but a host of them.”
You might say, though, that Danny and Ricky were at least for a time in a school of their own making—being both teacher and student as they touched the lives of these young people and were in turn touched themselves.
In another development of interest to young players, since the Cub Scouts of America is starting a pilot Sports Program, Tom Wintrich and Bill Haid will compile a table tennis guidebook for the 8-10-year-old age level.
Meanwhile, complementing the playing is the coaching—which of course (see, for example, SPIN, May-June, 1984, 3) Colorado Springs Coaching Chair Bob Tretheway, supported by SPIN Editor Tom Wintrich, is repeatedly calling our attention to:
“The success of the USTTA March Camp was beyond expectations. Not only did the smaller group (10 participants—Jim Beckford, Mike Dempsey, Scott Preiss, Larry Gold, John Allen, Tom Wintrich, Thajay Ananthothai, Paul Williams, Takako Trenholme, and Lan Vuong) allow Coach Henan Li Ai an opportunity for more careful analysis and specific instruction, it allowed the introduction of a new benefit to the players—a free dental clinic. All but one of the players took advantage of the Training Center’s dental clinic by having their teeth examined, cleaned, and when necessary cavities filled.
Even more surprising was the camp becoming a media event. Through the efforts of National Coaching Chair Bob Tretheway working in cooperation with Bob Condron of the USOC public information staff, players were besieged by newspaper, radio, and television newsmen….”
In a Mar. 8th letter to Tretheway, USTTA President Sol Schiff indicated he was upset at an “unauthorized letter” that Bill Haid had sent to Coach Henan Li Ai regarding payment for services. “I want this “contract” letter from Bill Haid to Mrs. Ai broken immediately. Bill sent this letter to Mrs. Ai out of the goodness of his heart and I am sure that he did not intend this as a firm contract or commitment. I am of the opinion that he did this only at the request of Mrs. Sue Butler and to help Mrs. Ai stay in the U.S….I know that Mrs. Ai is an excellent coach but I now feel that both Mrs. Ai and Mrs. Butler are taking advantage of this letter written on her behalf.” [I’ve no copy of this “unauthorized letter,” but I know Mrs. Ai accepted a pay settlement, and continued coaching for the USTTA.]
At the April Training Camp for Coaches, “each of the 11 men who participated was successful in completing the extensive American Coaching Effectiveness Program for Level 1 certification.
The mornings were spent in the classroom, afternoons were devoted to technique training at the table with Coach Henan Li Ai, and after dinner it was back to the classroom for another three hours. [“How about warm-up exercises?” asks Larry Lowry. “Anyone have anything to say about that? At my Pittsburgh Club most of the senior players have at one time or other been sidelined with tennis elbows, muscle pulls, sore shoulders, and other joint problems. I’d like to see an authoritative treatment of correct preparation for play and avoidance of injuries.”]
The ACEP material and special speakers were combined to develop a course of instruction unequaled by any other sport at the Olympic Training Center….Guest speakers were: Dr. Frank Patton, sports psychologist; Nancy Harris, trainer at the OTC; Dan Roden, President of the American Hypnotists Association; Ron Boller, area Director of Marketing for the Explorer Scouts; Wendell Dillon, author of the USTTA Tournament Handbook and the USTTA’s Disciplinary Committee Chairman; and John Buck, Director of volunteer fund-raising for the USOC. [Pass the buck, everyone: write a letter to your Congressman to urge passage of the Olympic Tax Check-Off act of 1984 that allows you to contribute $1.00 of your tax refund for that year to the USOC].
Californian Bob Healy attended this April Coaches Camp, and said that “what started out as a halfway frightening experience—that is, trying to assimilate so much of this new coaching program so quickly in 12-hour days—turned out to be one of the most enjoyable and educational times in my short table tennis career. Everyone from Bob Tretheway, the honorable Henan Li Ai, and Scott Preiss made me feel welcome. Indeed, they made me realize we were all there for the same purpose: to learn to coach, teach, and familiarize our youth with the sport of table tennis.”
If, as it happens, you can’t get to one of these Coaching Camps, you and a friend can improve on any past self-help effort (seen here) by purchasing the newest B-83 Training Robot (Timmy’s, June, 1984, 22):
“China, the undisputed leader in table tennis, has developed a robot player that can put spin on a serve and drop shots short over the net. ‘The B-83 Table tennis Training Robot passed state approval and will go into limited production this year,’ the official Chinese news agency Xinhua reported.
The announcement did not explain why the robot is called ‘B-83,’ but said it was jointly developed by the state Physical Culture and Sports Commission and the Songling Machinery Corp. in Shenyang.”
Appropos to China’s new robot, Sam Steiner offers us a short article from “Machine Design,” May 24, 1984:
“The International Personal Robot Congress and Exposition (IPRC) has accepted a challenge from the British for American roboticists to participate in a unique robot competition slated for 1985. It’s a Ping-Pong contest that will pit computerized personal robots against each other at specially designed Ping-Pong tables. IPRC will hold the first U.S. trials for the Robot Ping-Pong Contest during their March, 1985 meeting.” [The winner (gotta be US) will eventually meet China?]
Lee Berton, writing in the Jan. 15, 1985 Wall Street Journal, is also robotic-minded:
“…Computer scientists now are trying to build a robot that can return the same ball hit at it. A contest sponsored by an engineering school in Portsmouth, England is spurring such efforts.
‘It’s not around the corner,’ says Joe Bosworth, the chairman of the National Personal Robot Association, a trade group based in Golden, CO. ‘It’s as difficult as intercepting a missile in space,’ he asserts.
Meanwhile, some of the current generation of robots have found their way to remote corners of the world. Arthur C. Clarke, the author of the science-fiction novel ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ had a Sitco robot sent to his home in Colombo, Sri Lanka, several years ago. ‘R2D2 arrived safely…and the local champs have been beating a path to my door,’ Mr. Clarke wrote to Mr. Berliner. ‘It’s a splendid exerciser.’”
In line with this push for new assimilation, Executive Director Haid has suggested to the USTTA E.C. that, like other U.S. governing bodies—Cycling, Skiing, and Boxing, for example—Table Tennis “ought to invite their own officers, regional directors, and representatives around the country to meet periodically at the USOC for group meetings. They would have to pay only their air fare; the USOC would give free hospitality to all. Just imagine,” says Bill, “what can be accomplished in three or four days of meetings.” [Having had the benefit of three-day meetings at our summer and winter E.C. get-togethers, I think some of us needn’t rely on our imaginations as to what could be accomplished.]
Expansion’s in Bill Haid’s mind (SPIN, Feb., 1984, 5). He sees how other sports “divide the country into much smaller areas than we do,” and he feels that regional directors and committeemen would be better able to supervise and coordinate activities if only three or four states fell under their jurisdiction.” So Bill proposed that “the USTTA go to fourteen regions instead of the seven we now have.” But the E.C. was not receptive because they felt “it would be more difficult to solicit twice as many volunteers as we now have.” But how about it out there? “If you’d be interested in volunteering to handle a small region, please send your comments to me, Bill Haid.’
Expansion is also on USTTA Club Chair Richard Feuerstein’s mind. In the last year we’ve gone from having 200 affiliated clubs to 218, and he thinks we ought to get more. If, for example, the far away Anchorage TTC is going strong, why can’t others get into the act? “At the Arctic Winter Games (the Olympics of the North), trading pins is a popular pastime. The Anchorage Club has designed a small pin as a gift to guests, new tournament entrants, and to prospective friends the members meet when they travel to other clubs. An exchange of club pins is always a welcome thought.”
And if the Arctic is not too far up and out, how about, especially if you’re used to enjoy playing in Colorado Springs, taking up with Paul Doumitt and his club—you can reach him via the American Embassy in La Paz, Bolivia. In a Letter to the Editor (SPIN, May-June, 1984, 3), he writes all friendly-like:
“After departing Lima, Peru, you have to gain altitude to land at La Paz, Bolivia (Elevation 13,000 feet). This is the world’s highest international airport, highest capital city, and highest table tennis club.
The club is situated on the fifth floor of the memorial soccer stadium (most visiting teams lose here). It has three Stiga Expert tables, each of which is illuminated by 32 150-watt flood lamps. The club has about 30 members. The best players probably have about a 2000 rating. The annual club dues are 1,000 Bolivian pesos or about 30 cents, which is in line with the general cost of living in Bolivia.
After your body and loop-shot adjust to the thin air, you should have a very enjoyable stay here.”
Feuerstein is also interested (Timmy’s, June, 1984, 14) in telling us about the oldest USTTA-affiliated clubs he has records on. “Millie Shahian’s Chicago Net and Paddle Club [where I, Tim, played in at least one tournament in the mid-‘50’s] was not affiliated prior to the 1965-66 season—probably because table tennis in Illinois was then controlled by the Illinois TTA. Millie’s club, I note, is about to move to a new Chicago address.
George Sinclair’s Beatty TTC in Columbus, Ohio and the South Park TTC in Pittsburgh were affiliated by the 1957-58 season (if not before) and have had an unbroken continuing affiliation. The Amarillo, TX club affiliated in the 1958-59 season, but was then not affiliated from 1963-67. The San Diego club was affiliated for the 1959-60 season, but not for the 1965-66 season—though continuously after that. The Phoenix, AZ club has been affiliated continuously from the 1960-61 season.
Such continuity is admirable, but changes are also constant. Ratings Chair Dan Simon, for example, reports that “since the paperwork to report results has been reduced for tournament directors, I will now require that the tournament results be in the mail within ONE (1) week [rather than as previously in two weeks]. Better for the accuracy of the ratings to have quick-arriving results. Also, players, please make sure that when you sign in at a tournament you show your membership card and make sure that the tournament director has your information PROPERLY highlighted on the ratings list.”
Also, a desire for change down through the years is a constant. Bob Green, who says he’s been playing t.t. since 1930, and for many years, like Shahian, ran a commercial club, and also directed the famous Miles vs. Reisman 1948 U.S. Open, wants the Sport to “Return to the 6 and ¾ Net” (Timmy’s, Apr., 1984, 12). Here’s why (though you don’t have to be much of a history buff to anticipate his argument):
“…In those 1930’s days of the hard rubber bat, the defensive players and pick-shot artists were in the majority and had a firm grip on the game. It was very difficult at that time to get enough topspin on the ball to bring it over the then 6 and ¾ net height and down and get any winning pace on the ball. So, because of the somewhat dull rallies of pushes, chops, and pick shots for the points, many thought more sustained offense was needed to speed up the game and hopefully increase spectator interest. Thus the net was lowered to the present six-inches, and this change helped play.
Today, however, due to the introduction of the sponge bat around 1950, the reverse is true and the offensive players have a lock on the Game. Spectator interest has declined due to the sheer speed of play. A classic example of this occurred in the final of the World Women’s Singles seen recently on Wide World of Sports TV. In the match it was serve and smash almost every point. (It seemed no defense was possible.)
We ought to try then slowing the game down at least a little bit. Due to the higher arch necessary to clear a 6 and ¾-inch net, the super spinny-serves would go deeper on the table and bounce higher, making it easier for the non-server to control a safer return, and minimizing the third-ball kill.
Wouldn’t it be a good idea for clubs around the country to conduct their own experiments with this new/old net and document their conclusions for us?”
Meanwhile, it was Larry Hodge’s view (SPIN, Apr., 1984, 15/May-June, 1984, 14;16) that, given the shorter net and the serves that the aspiring tournament player is currently faced with, a little coaching, both as to serving short and returning short serves, would be most helpful. So he offers the following advice:
“…If you cannot serve short, you will always be handicapped against most good players.
A short serve is a serve that, if allowed, would bounce twice on the far side of the table. Because of this, a short serve cannot be looped like a deep serve because the table is in the way. This forces the receiver to reach over the table to return the serve, which can be awkward, especially on the forehand side. Even a chopper has more trouble, because he can’t dig into the serve with the table in the way.
There are many types of short serves, with advantages and disadvantages to each. You can serve very short so that the ball bounces very close to the net. You can serve a short serve so that its second bounce will be near the end-line. You can serve sidespin, spinning either right or left, combined with topspin or chop, or else a pure topspin or chop serve. You can serve to the wide angles, to the middle, or anywhere in between.”
With each of these serves, Larry tells you where and how to make interacting contact with ball and racket so as, with practice, you can gain control of the variations. He urges you “to get a bucket of balls and practice alone on a table. If you point the table into a corner, the balls will mostly stay in one spot, so you can practice without long breaks to collect the balls.”
Larry says that “all short serves can be classified as either chop or side-top.” He points out the advantages and disadvantages of both the short chop and the short side-top serve. (“If you like to loop pushes, serve mostly chop….Realize a righty’s backhand sidespin serve to an opponent who’s also a righty is usually effective because the sidespin is spinning away from the opponent.”)
Should you serve wide to one side or up the middle? Should you serve the same serve over and over again? Larry emphasizes you’ve got to determine what serves give your specific opponent trouble, and then strategically master the placement of them.
As for returning short serves, says Larry, it’s most important, first and foremost, “to read the spin. You must watch the RACKET very carefully to help you determine whether the serve is topspin or chop and how much of either spin is on the ball.” Also, “successfully returning short serves to the forehand where the table may inhibit your stroke requires the most practice.”
Footwork, he says, “is mandatory—you need to step in to the table for extra balance and reach.” Larry, applying advice depending on whether you’re receiving short forehand or backhand serves, discusses which foot, right or left, is best to move in with first. Of course of paramount importance is to position yourself for the next ball. Try to insist on practicing your returns with a good player—it will benefit him too.
For how best to push the serve-return short, or to push it long; and how to flip-return a chop, or to chop/block-return a topspin or side-top serve, Larry provides right-minded pointers. “When receiving,” he says, “you should always be trying to get the initiative, usually by attacking. Most importantly, vary the way you receive serves.”
Larry of course IS helpful, but sometimes a tad too determinedly serious. So I revert, I admit rather whimsically, to the topic of change. I invite you to read the article, “Ping-Pong Without Guilt,” submitted by Dean Doyle/Nadine Prather (Timmy’s, June, 1984, 14).
The Athletes Advisory Committee is something new. Sheila O’Dougherty is the Chair, and also the Player Rep on the E.C. (a position she’ll have for the next 5 and ½ years until she becomes the USTTA Treasurer). Sheila replaces the now absent from the Game Faan Yeen Liu who on Sept. 5th I’d be writing a Letter of Recommendation for—she was hoping to follow an advanced course of study in medicine at Columbia University. Among those interested in presently being on Sheila’s Committee is Perry Schwartzberg. Not resting on his laurels as a player, or briefly as a U.S. Team Manager, he continues writing articles, including this one he’ll tell you about now, “Attacking Your Opponent’s Middle” (SPIN, Mar., 1984, 26):
“…Perhaps the most overlooked spot on the table is your opponent’s middle, or what I call the ‘void zone.’
…By hitting the ball at your opponent’s backhand/forehand crossover spot, you immediately force him to make a choice—to hit a backhand or forehand. Either way, he will have to move to one side very quickly, as a split second too late will find the ball in his gut. After this movement, space will have been gained by you—for whichever choice he makes, forehand or backhand, that side of the table should now be open for your attack. It’s important, then, to realize that the ‘void zone,’ or middle, does not pertain to a specific point on the table, but, instead, to a specific place on your opponent’s body. It moves as your opponent moves.
By playing the ball up the middle, you have cut down your opponent’s ability to hit the angles against you, and so made it difficult for him to gain a positional advantage. By forcing your opponent to move quickly to one side or the other, you allow him little time to concentrate on the consequences of his actions, and you can adroitly continue penetrating the void zone with your planned attack.
Your attack to ‘his’ middle must be based on a quick-moving ball, though not necessarily a powerfully hit one. Remember, too, it must not be telegraphed. Keeping your opponent unaware of the ball’s destination is critical for ‘void zone’ penetration to work for you.”
There have also been changes—successful advances—in the USTTA Film Committee’s Program. Chair D.P. (Don) Story tells us (SPIN, May-June, 1984, 21) of the membership’s enthusiasm for the videotape collection established through the auspices of the Audio-Visual Services of Kent State University. Since they’ve become available in the last year, roughly 100 rentals of tapes have gone out. And most importantly, says Don, “There has been no abuse of the rental service, no tapes returned late, no tapes returned damaged, and no problems over payment of rental fees.” THAT, everyone must think, is remarkable. No wonder Don and his particularly helpful Ohio Committeemen, Dave Strang and Cam Clark, say, “THANK YOU.”
The Film Committee offers 13 tapes—half of them showing 1979-1983 matches from the World’s and the U.S. Open, accompanied of course by a very detailed Film Rental Order for immediate use.
Every once in a while, a Letter to the Editor appears from a book collector abroad who wants American publications—just recently (Timmy’s, June, 1984, 2), Englishman Barry Hayward said he was looking for books by Coleman Clark, Si Wasserman, Doug Cartland, and Dick Miles among others.
Naturally, being an English professor, I have a literary bent and so am partial to those who want to write, especially write creatively, for the magazine—hence my inclusion here of Eliot Katz’s poem.
Also, since I’m always conscious that the magazine I edit might have historical value, it was understandable that about this time I could write the following letter to U.S. Table Tennis Hall of Fame Chair Jimmy McClure. What would come from these thoughts, readers 30 years later would better be able to judge. Here’s the Letter:
July 24, 1984
When Sally and I were on vacation recently (with Dick and Mary Miles), one of the places we visited was the Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, N.Y.
I was very impressed with the layout, and over and over again kept thinking, ‘Why couldn’t we have something like this for our Table Tennis Hall of Fame?’
I think we ought to work seriously on a one or two or three-room location, with some volunteer curators—rent a place somewhere other than Colorado Springs, where the Hall stands alone. Seneca Falls goes back into the 1850’s as an historic place for Women’s Rights; a street corner I stood at is a landmark. Perhaps we ought to pick a town that’s historically significant in U.S. Table Tennis, find a small store, or a spry widow with a big house, and do our thing. I bet we’d get a big response from the membership. Talk about IMAGE, Jimmy.
The Women’s Hall charges an admission fee, then gives an introductory slide show (Singer Caramate 4000). We apparently don’t have many extant films of our great players from 1930-80, but we could round up quite a few pictures and do an interesting voice-over. Also, as we pay homage to one member after another, we could get a recording of that member’s actual voice, old though he or she may now be, or an actor pretending to be, say, Johnny Somael (with copy provided by a friend of Johnny’s, like Miles). There’s a marvelous reading of Sojourner Truth’s famous 1851 speech that each visitor hears simply by picking up a nearby phone.
We also visited the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Museum in Hyde Park, NY on our way home, and damned if that wasn’t very interesting too.
I’m more and more turning over thoughts in my head about doing a History of U.S. Table Tennis [16 years later (2000) I finally got a first volume out], and I’d be 100% behind the establishment of an historic place that would house interesting material and give our greats just due. I would help assemble material and try to fund-raise for such a place, would urge volunteers to provide house-cleaning help…whatever would be needed.
Jimmy, why doesn’t the Hall of Fame take this on as a project?