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History of U.S. Table Tennis Volume 14: 1985-86

CHAPTER FOUR 

            1985: USTTA Election Results. 1985: E.C.’s Predominant Interests through March. 

            Since the annual E.C. Election is coming up, let’s see who’s running for office (all are serious about serving), who’s urging who be supported, and, mindful of being succinct, what the candidates themselves are saying in their Campaign Statements. Then I’ll tell you who wins.

            The following nine candidates are running for three Vice-Presidential spots: Carl Danner, Mel Eisner (incumbent), Bill Hodge, Bill Hornyak (incumbent), Yvonne Kronlage, Jimmy McClure (incumbent), Bob Partridge, Danny Seemiller, and Bill Steinle. Lyle Thiem is also on the ballot, but is running unopposed to continue as Treasurer. As was the case last year, the voting procedure was clearly explained in SPIN.

            Executive Vice President Gus Kennedy (SPIN, Jan., 1985, 4) reminds us that Jimmy McClure, who serves on the Executive Board of the USOC, “was instrumental in having the profits from the Los Angeles Olympic Games distributed equally among the 38 National Governing Bodies,” and, as Kennedy says after working on the E.C. with him, “Jimmy gives close scrutiny to the spending of your funds.” Gus also notes that McClure has been appointed Table Tennis Chairman for the 1987 Pan American Games.

            Kennedy supports three other candidates as well: Mel Eisner (“a very astute individual with finances”), Danny Seemiller (“whose character and spirit should bring new vigor to the E.C.”), and Bill Hodge (“who has constantly studied what the E.C. did and did not do on programs and budgets”).

            Current E.C. Vice-President Rufford Harrison (SPIN, Jan., 1985, 4) urges fiscal responsibility and so particularly supports McClure and Hodge. Jimmy deserves praise for urging that huge windfall for T.T. from the 1984 Olympic Games, and for working closely with Sheila O’Dougherty, USTTA representative on the USOC Athletes Advisory Council, “to determine our players’ viewpoints on all matters that affect them.” Hodge, says Jimmy, “may very well know more about our finances than anyone else in the Association,” and should be congratulated again for having “balanced the budget last year when the rest of the EC thought it impossible.”

            O’Dougherty (SPIN, Feb., 1985, 3) favors Seemiller, McClure, and Eisner. “Danny understands the issues affecting the players, and this will allow him to develop and pursue programs which will further the growth of table tennis.” McClure “has supported player representation within the USTTA, and his proven ability and experience in understanding how the USOC Board works is essential to the USTTA.” Eisner “has the ability to take complex issues and evaluate them analytically; this helps to outline effective steps for resolution of the issues through a practical course of action.”

            Perry Schwartzberg (SPIN, Feb., 1985, 3) makes no direct endorsements but emphasizes the qualifications he wants E.C. members to have: “1. must have a great desire and enthusiasm to make the sport grow. 2. Must understand the connections between tournament promoters, equipment manufacturers, and players. 3. Must have some playing experience. 4. Must know what as an E.C. member he’s striving for (and since one hope is that we’ll eventually get media attention it would help if he/she had some connections and experience in this area”).

            President Tim Boggan in his (SPIN, Feb., 1985, 12) Up Front column opts specifically for Eisner* and McClure “Both men,” he says, “have been of daily help to me, know things I don’t, can do things I can’t or don’t want to do. Because they don’t always think like I do, they complement me and give that part of the membership who think I might occasionally be a little too aggressive some checks and balances on me. Most importantly, though—most important to me—they are flexible and forward going and do not oppose my general stabilizing and innovative aims.” As for the other candidates, Boggan has a good word to say about them all. 

            Here now, in their Campaign Statements, are what I consider the candidates’ most significant lines.

            Carl Danner says he’s ready to bring his “substantial professional skills” to improve the sorry state of our USTTA. He stresses the following two points:

            “I am concerned that our present scattershot approach will not succeed in promoting our sport. The USTTA competes with other organizations and activities in every act of promotion it attempts. For example, young people face numerous well-organized and well-funded opportunities to play other sports. Firms seeking exposure by sponsoring rich prize-money tournaments are besieged by promoters offering well-packaged events of proven popularity. The big time of American sport is populated by tough competitors. It is not easy to join them.

            Into this fray the USTTA has traditionally come with few resources. We are short of money and we are short of qualified people. That money and those people we do have are typically spread thin over a broad range of activities. We attempt so many things that we cannot devote enough effort for any one of them to succeed. Worse, the manner in which we use our resources diminishes our ability to attract more of them. People become less willing to give their time or money when they observe both being wasted.

            My point is that the USTTA should concentrate its precious resources on a focused strategy to do a few important things well. We ought to select a definite emphasis and stick to it, devoting enough to particular programs to give them a chance at success. At the same time the USTTA must deny resources to the multitudes of ill-conceived or petty personal programs that have drained us. There will also be some well-conceived programs that do not fit into our national strategy: the most difficult decisions must involve diverting resources away from those as well….

            My second point is that the USTTA must be run in a much more professional manner. By this I do not mean that we should pay salaries to everyone but rather that we should expect a certain amount of effort from those we elect and appoint to important positions. Unless the Executive Committee acts like a real governing board of a serious enterprise the rest of the organization will continue to be fragmented and ineffective. At a minimum we should demand EC members who will prepare for meetings in the manner of a corporate board member—that is, fully and professionally. As an EC member, I will vote to expel other members who consistently fail to do so….”

[Well, I’ve given Carl considerable space here because he’s often right-minded. But his hopes are all abstractly expressed, not a specific suggestion for development in the lot. And speaking for myself, a scattershot approach is better than no approach. Not that I’ve been so scattershot in the past. I object to Carl saying we’ve had no success. I do think that my own table aims for the last 13 years since I first became USTTA President have found at least some success: the best table tennis magazine the USTTA has ever seen, the admittance, after 20 years, of the U.S. and especially our U.S. Men’s Team to world class recognition; the proliferation of prize-money tournaments, even in some instances to recognizable serious-sport status; and of late my support for our Colorado Springs headquarters and the new coaching emphasis fostered by Bob Tretheway that will result in our Resident Training Program.]

            Mel Eisner has prepared for his repeated run for office by getting more name recognition through writing monthly Up Beat columns in SPIN (his latest on finding family fun and friendship at tournaments), and by taking out an ad in the USTTA magazine emphasizing his leadership abilities (especially with the help of his productive imagination and practical business acumen). Mel stresses the prestigious tournaments he’s been responsibly (and financially) involved in, including the 1981 800-entry U.S. Open featuring a men’s and women’s team from the Peoples Republic of China. He offers the outstanding quality of good judgment that has allowed him to assume “a leadership role as past president of the New Jersey Table Tennis Club and the Greater New York Table Tennis League. He’s been a ‘doer’ in such areas as TV rights, contractual limitations, and insurance (he’s an actuary and vice-president with Metropolitan Life).” He’s also been a driving force behind unusual, newsworthy t.t. events—such as the ‘I Love New York Tournament’ in the Port Authority Terminal which had over 200,000 people see it.” In short, Mel urges you to vote for him because, in addition to that valued Judgment, he also offers “Experience, Achievement, and Dedication.”

            Bill Hodge tells us that, “as a previous E.C. member, he’s well-qualified and informed.” As such, he’s repeatedly given you his credentials before—the “Father of the U.S. Nationals” (its first Tournament Director), and past president of the Columbus, Ohio TTC, and current president of the Las Vegas TTC. He’s now the USTTA Budget Chair, and will be the U.S. Men’s Team Manager at this summer’s National Sports Festival. Among his accomplishments: “I have won three National titles and over 100 different State titles. I have worked for and with Parks and Recreation Centers, teaching, organizing, giving exhibitions at schools, etc.” This year, we’re to note, he has “the endorsement of five current EC members and Vice-President candidate Seemiller, along with any number of other notables, including Eric Boggan whom he says he’s repeatedly coached “at all the U.S. Opens and Nationals held in Las Vegas.”

            Bill Hornyak gives us his non-table tennis as well as table tennis background. “He’s conducted a successful heating, air-conditioning, and sheet-metal business for 34 years in Michigan City, Indiana,” and was “an instructor for 10 years at the Indiana Vocational Technical College.” He wants more clubs for players to play, more t.t. in the schools, more attention to the sport by the media, and more quality tournaments. His varied experience will help him to work at these goals. “He’s been in table tennis for over 50 years as a player, an organizer of clubs, three years as Midwest Regional Director, two years as E.C. vice-president, and tournament director of the quality Duneland tournaments the past six years in Michigan City.”

            Yvonne Kronlage shows very clearly her disillusionment at the continued great effort she’s made, and will continue to make, to further the Sport, but with always so little recognition. She cares so much that table tennis be seen as a respected sport, but she seems so often to be ignored, her valid complaints not taken up. Why is that? And why, though she’s run for the E.C., three times before, hasn’t she been elected? Worse, only once was there a close race, and twice those who were elected instead of her did absolutely nothing, one even quitting soon after taking office. She wasn’t elected, she’s been told many times, “because no one knows me and what I have done.”

            Yvonne tries to fix that here.

            “I work hard. Have supported table tennis for 23 years. Have worked to get female players recognized. Have run four annual USTTA sanctioned camps for all players—all of them being very successful. Have run four Eastern Championships with more prize money than is given in present ones. Have been to three National Sport Festivals where I have worked very hard to make table tennis an attractive sport to both players and spectators. Have taken juniors overseas to compete, paying my own expenses. Have been both captain and coach to the U.S. men’s and women’s teams at the Pan American Games in Puerto Rico, again at my own travel expense. Have been captain of the U.S. Women’s Team to the World Championships where discipline was a major problem and, despite my saying so, no one was officially reprimanded.

I started the Maryland Table Tennis Association to help raise funds for players to participate in different events during the year. I have run a club for over 20 years and run the only annual circuit in the U.S. giving over $7,000 a year. Every year I organize table tennis for the Maryland Senior Olympics and the Tryouts for the Junior Olympics (also raised money to send eight juniors to Florida to play in the Junior Olympics last year). I give free T.T. exhibitions and talks to schools and coach kids free of charge.”

To sum up: Yvonne says, “I am always willing to help anyone anywhere to promote this sport and don’t expect anything in return.”

Jimmy McClure’s distinguished Hall of Fame player/captain’s career many readers have followed in earlier volumes, so I’ll not repeat that here. However, the following specific info he gives us is timely: “When I was appointed a member of the USOC Games Preparation Committee by William E. Simon, USOC President, I proposed that Pan American and Olympic coaches did not have to be U.S. citizens but only needed to have a Green Card. This made it possible for Henan Li Ai to be the coach of our teams in the 1983 Pan American Games.”

Also, “as a member of the U.S. Olympic Special Committee to determine how the profits for the L.A. Olympics should be divided, I was successful in convincing the majority of the committee that the profits should be divided equally among the Group A members of the USOC. Several members thought the money should be divided on the same basis that the USOC Development and Games Preparation Funds are awarded. Since only one other sport receives less than table tennis and some receive over 20 times as much, this would mean we would receive very little. At the next meeting of all the group A members I was able to persuade several of the leading Group A members, among them Athletics (Track and Field), Swimming, Basketball, Tennis, Boxing, and Baseball, to vote in favor of equal distributions, which passed 17-5….

Now I am in the process of helping to form a new USTTA Foundation  to protect our share of those Olympic Games windfall profits. As USTTA Olympic Chairman I have designated 85% of the monies received from the USOC to be used to set up National Training Camps for players and coaches, for international competition, and to improve our public image….By the time of the Olympics, the U.S. will once again be among the top three or four countries in the world.” [Might as well be optimistic, eh?]

Robert C. Partridge says that “for the past 30 years I have been in the financial services industry, 25 of those years in management. I know that my business experience can be useful to the USTTA. After first becoming involved with table tennis in the Northwest in 1963, by 1972 I was part of the group that founded the Concord, CA TTC, and have been on that Club’s E.C. continually, now as Treasurer and Tournament Director. I am not only a determined local worker, I am also an International Umpire and was Tournament Referee at the last U.S. Open.”

Danny Seemiller needs no introduction, having been on the scene for 18 years, as very experienced player, coach, and organizer of hundreds of table tennis promotions all over the country. Surely such a person in the know should be on the E.C. Danny urges you to vote not only for him but for Bill Hodge and Mel Eisner.

Bill Steinle says, “My basic belief is to have good coaching first, with good training practice to follow, to develop ‘top flight players.’ Youth Development will be my first priority. It’s possible to have good competition at training sessions, but the best is at tournaments against players with different styles. That’s ‘competition.’ My second priority is better-run tournaments.

As to my t.t. background, I was appointed Manager for the U.S. Team at the 1983 World Championships. Currently I’m on the U.S. Team Selection Committee. And, in addition to going to the 1981 Yugoslavia World Championships, I have been to the last five U.S. Opens and U.S. National tournaments. My further involvement can be seen in the four USTTA E.C. meetings I’ve attended.” Bill requests that you vote for him of course but also for Yvonne Kronlage and Jimmy McClure.

Treasurer Lyle Thiem says, “We need an E.C. with the vision and foresight to spend some of the Los Angeles Games windfall money where it will do the most good. We must, for example, have more and better clubs, for otherwise where will the new players we hope to recruit go to practice and develop their skills, and where can family-play flourish? Also, we must have a corps of coaches if players are to become serious.

Lyle , who’s running unopposed, has been the volunteer Treasurer for the Association since Dec., 1981. Now, however, having proven himself a valuable worker and with increased responsibilities, he’s requesting a monthly honorarium. He hopes you’ll give him your vote of confidence. As for the others running for office, he supports McClure, Eisner, and Hodge who’s proved he can be a big help to Lyle with the budget and other financial details.

And the winners are (SPIN, May-June, 1985, 34)…LYLE THIEM of course for Treasurer (1051 votes). And for Vice President the top three in the following list: DAN SEEMILLER (798), JIMMY McCLURE (668), MEL EISNER (609), Yvonne Kronlage (407), Bill Hornyak (378), Carl Danner (252), Bill Hodge (233), Robert Partridge (143), and Bill Steinle (99). Eisner publicly thanks those who supported his candidacy. 

E.C. Preoccupations

The following information can be found in comments I’ve elicited from correspondence with EC members or other interested parties and especially from the Minutes of the E.C. Meeting, held March 15-17, 1985 at Colorado Springs, CO. All USTTA officers were (sooner or later) present at that Meeting, except for Rufford Harrison who was unavoidably absent, out of the country. Other prominent Association members attending (all or part of the time) were: Ai Liguo, Dennis Masters, Dick Miles, Dan Simon, Roger Sverdlik, Bob Tretheway, and Tom Wintrich.

 Rufford makes a “formal” protest that this Meeting is “technically” illegal. Why? Because in not getting the (technically—what?—one page?) Agenda out two weeks ahead of time, as per the Bylaws, Boggan had violated…well, not the spirit but the letter of the law.

Boggan, in turn, notes that he wants to issue a protest of his own—a two-part informal one—that (1) Rufford’s insistent protest about this Meeting not being strictly legal (but yet acceptably legal) when, in unprecedented fashion, everyone saw ALL the Agenda material that was humanly possible—January and February SPIN articles for review, including my own “Up Front” ones, my Feb. E.C. “Update” (which Rufford helpfully notated), my March E.C. “Update” (Mar. 3); my “Comments on the Upcoming Meeting” (Mar.7), and my “Agenda,” mindful that the exigencies of every Meeting make practical demands on us that we depart from the Agenda  (Mar. 11); my “Executive Action Since Last Meeting” (Mar. 13), and a Friday night four-page (more complete) “Agenda” (Mar. 14)—followed by what would be an exhaustive Mar. 23-24 summary (16 single-spaced pages) of the Minutes. And that (2) Rufford’s directive to his proxy Dennis Masters not to spend any money on anything certainly doesn’t show President Boggan the flexibility he personally would like to see in an E.C. member in his administration. Harrison later said he gave this directive to D-J because he wasn’t sure we had any money to spend.

On the plus side, Rufford is to be commended for his revision work on our 128-page USTTA 1983-85 Handbook (sells for $7.00). Thanks to him (and those who assisted him—Gus Kennedy, Jimmy McClure, Mal Anderson, and Jack Carr), questions that might have taken us the better part of a Meeting-day have been addressed before the Meeting and resolved.

Speaking of money (and how can we not?), we’ve established a new Table Tennis Foundation to care for our Olympics windfall money—a Foundation different from the still extant previous one tainted by the Rasmussen Presidency and the general disinterest of its Trustees and Treasurer. We are indeed going to get our $1,300,000 or so—though it may take until summer. Jimmy McClure proposed a correction to this previous Minutes line: “at least $500,000 [of Olympic Games funds] be invested by the Foundation.” Jimmy wants the Minutes to read, “ALL subsequent allocations of funds from the L.A. Olympic Games be invested by the Foundation.” Boggan argues that had he known we were going to get double the $658,000 we were talking about, he (and some other E.C. members?) would never have agreed. However, for the sake of harmony, Tim will now at least momentarily agree.

By Meeting’s end, we will have taken the most sensible step we could (1) to avoid the possibility of losing this windfall money to a suit against us, and (2) to insure that at least a $1,200,000 corpus will remain with the USTTA forever, while year after year we’ll be able to put our $120,000 or so annual interest earnings to work for the betterment of table tennis.

Tim insists, however, that “the E.C.’s job is not simply to leave this money for someone else to do or not to do anything with; our job is to think and act for the betterment of the sport NOW. I’m a proud person: I want to see results; I’m not expending all this energy just to maintain an historically meaningless status quo.”

There does remain some ($75,000?) Olympic Games windfall money that we have not committed to the Foundation and that in the next year, before we start getting interest earnings from that windfall, we might responsibly put to good use. Obviously there’s a decision to be made literally every day as to whether to spend money, or not. I’ll begin by listing my Presidential actions since the Dec., 1984 E.C. Meeting:

“Authorized a Christmas bonus of $25 each for our four Headquarters employees, Emily Cale, Ann Orthwein, Bob Tretheway, and Tom Wintrich.

Authorized an extra $350 or so to pay full moving expenses of the Ais to Colorado Springs. The E.C. agreed to offer Ai Liguo (he and his wife Henan had conducted a number of coaching seminars in China) a retainer for consulting services to the USTTA. Liguo, everyone felt, would be especially helpful in coaching coaches—he knows sports.**

Authorized a cabinet, desk, and chair (a permanent work station) for Tim Bald, our intern at Colorado Springs.

Authorized our Legal Chair Bob Hibschweiler, at his strong suggestion, to raise that $300 offer to Addison for the 1982 U.S. Closed  tapes to $600. (No reply from Addison.)

Agreed that I’d cooperate with Coach Schleff to the fullest; he wants to run the first of several proposed tournaments—the Highland, IN tourney—Apr. 27-28. (I’ve no record of this tournament ever being held.)

Agreed that Bob Tretheway should get Scott Preiss to help him with his Woodland Junior Development Project and that Bob pay him something appropriate—perhaps $250 for his transportation costs and maybe $300 for his three weeks work, along with food and lodging at the Olympic Training Center. (The E.C. later agreed to fund this $775 three-week Program. It will introduce over 400 kids from the ages of 9 to 13 to table tennis, and might perhaps be a prototype project that could be “sold” to other school districts.)

Authorized Jay Harris to buy a book or two containing special names, addresses and phone numbers that would be helpful to him in his Fund Raising and PR work.

Authorized Dick Miles’s way paid to the March E.C. Meeting.

Authorized a plaque for Jimmy McClure to present to former USOC Executive Director Col. F. Don Miller (which he did with much bravura); also authorized $100 towards a gift for Col. Miller (which, embarrassingly, he received belatedly). Coincidentally, the new USOC General Secretary is another Miller—General George Miller.

McClure also had the unpleasant duty of announcing (SPIN, Apr., 1985, 6) the untimely death of John B. Kelly, Jr., just installed last January as USOC President. Jimmy said that “Jack, an Olympic medalist in Sculling like his gold-medalist father before him, was the Past President of the AAU and Swimming Hall of Fame, and had served as First Vice-President of the USOC for the past eight years.”

We also learned belatedly that former U.S. Team Captain Bill Gunn has died.

Agreed with Bob Tretheway that we should join the 3,000-member NIRSA (National Intermural Recreational Sports Association. (The $250 fee hasn’t been paid yet.) However, the E.C. later tabled Tretheway’s request for a $2,500 USTTA promotional display, so presumably he won’t be going to their convention in Boston May 1-5.

Authorized $200 over budget for USTTA Film Chair Dave Strang to buy a portable (Beta-oriented) camera.

Authorized expenses for Germany-based Eric Boggan and Mike Bush to form a U.S. Team at the Czech Open, but not at the Welsh Open. (The Canadians sent two men and two women to both tournaments.)

Appointed Nisse Sandberg U.S. Team Psychologist (at his own expense) at the 1985 World’s.

To insure that Robert Compton could go to the World’s and take really good photos, I have an understanding with him via Tom Wintrich that we’ll subsidize him $250. (As I’ve earlier indicated, Tom, filling up his May-June issue with 80 photos, made sure, though he wanted to and did use a number of Mal Anderson’s photos as well, that we got our money’s worth from Robert.) Tim notes that he’s getting player complaints that SPIN lacks readability.

ABC is going to film at the World’s—but just the final of the Team’s.

Rufford Harrison points out that at the last French Open the French came up with, in ITTF President H. Roy Evans’s words:

“… a tremendous innovation. Through a computer set-up, all the results of the matches, together with detailed information about players, were available to teletext networks, all over France, so that at any time enthusiasts, wherever in France they lived, had immediate access to up-to-date results. A very impressive ‘first time’ pointing the way to a new medium for promoting our game.”

Perry Schwartzberg was authorized to work two weeks for Oklahoma Youth T.T. Tretheway will say Perry brought in 40 new juniors—I’d like to see a detailed report—and hopefully we can find a way to keep them in the Association.

Authorized expenses for those negotiating the ’85 U.S. Open to Miami/Miami Beach—Masters, Harris, Boggan, and local liaison Bard Brenner—and plane fare for Boggan to Pittsburgh to cover the Eastern’s (but not to cover his trip to Montreal for the North American Championships). 

Now I’ll follow by grouping related items, on which the E.C. did or did not spend money.

What with all the windfall money coming to us, it would be very surprising if only Lyle were to receive some financial help. Having now paid off all those old USOC bills, he’ll get $100 a month (retroactive as of Jan. 1, 1985). Meanwhile, McClure and Tretheway will look into the possibility of a new Accounting System for the USTTA.

Co-Tournament Operations Chairmen Masters and Simon were given a vote of confidence by the E.C. who approved the raise they asked for by a 4-2-3 vote. Dennis will get $1,500 for his pre-U.S. Open work; and $2,500 as a Co-Tournament Director’s fee…he will get the same thing for his work on the U.S. Closed. Dan will get for his work on the U.S. Open: $4 per player for draws and time-scheduling; $4 per player per rating; and $2,500 as a Co-Tournament Director’s fee…he will get the same thing for his work on the U.S. Closed.

The E.C. approved Jay Harris (who’s gotten support from Eastern Airlines and Avis for this year’s U.S. Open) as USTTA Fund Raising/Public Relations Coordinator (FRPRC). It’s understood that Jay will receive “10% of all monies from products and services which he is directly responsible for obtaining (except tournament ad books, where the % shall be [not staggered but straight] 50% of the ads less the cost of printing and expenses directly related to the ad book.”

Dennis reported that the ’84 U.S. Open had made a profit of $3,071.17, and this did not count the $12,000 Nittaku money given us). Mistakes were made in the buying and selling of Sales Booth items for the Open and Closed, but hopefully we will learn from these mistakes. Treasurer Thiem says Tom Wintrich’s calculation of the USTTA Sales Booth loss of $708.90 at the ’84 U.S. Closed is totally inaccurate. Tom included income from other rental booths and applied that to income from the USTTA booth. In actuality, we lost close to $2,000. Most of this, says Lyle, was due to Jay Harris’s poor judgment. Jay paid too much for cheap shirts and bought too many hats and towels. Lyle also says we spent too much money on promotion at the U.S. Closed (the posters didn’t sell at all). Too much money was spent altogether at the Closed.

Dennis reported that the ’84 U.S. Closed had made a momentary profit of $5,623.52. He said ‘momentary’ because we still had some current bills to pay (we hadn’t even gotten a bill from the Tropicana yet). Though entries were low (only 365) Dennis anticipated a profit of $2,000-$3,000 (with of course the Team Trials conducted at no extra cost to the Association).

This year’s Miami Beach U.S. Open with Abel Holtz’s $15,000 Capital Bank Sponsorship is looking good. Still, if we’re to sponsor the Chinese and the Swedes, Dennis estimated (perhaps pessimistically?) that we’d need [what we’re not going to get] 600 paid entries to break even on this Open.

Which means we’ll also need [what we’re not going to get] a requisite number of umpires—and especially for the foreign teams our very best ones. The E.C. felt that any USTTA National Umpire must be allowed to take the International Umpire’s test. If complaints are made of an umpire’s performance under pressure these should be documented, the umpire given a chance to defend himself, and a judgment made of his/her abilities…perhaps by those needing umpires.

The Players Committee—(members: Larry Thoman, Sean O’Neill, Olga Soltesz, Paul Williams, Perry Schwartzberg, Rick Hardy, Bob Fox, Erwin Hom, Craig Martin, and Jay Crystal)  wants Thoman’s letter on the Point Penalty System referred to the Umpires Committee for a response. They’re worried about umpires misusing their power.

McClure thinks a warning at the table would be good. But whatever we’re going to do has to be thought through. One fellow says, “This Point Penalty System “is a weapon—a dangerous weapon.” Readers of these volumes will probably remember how the Boggans were quite upset over wrong or highly questionable calls made against them during the first experimental use of this System—and I question again now how many umpires under fire can employ it wisely.

Different personalities must be allowed some expression. Understanding after understanding needs to be considered. Quick thoughts that cross my mind: (1) can a player request, and likely have that request granted, another umpire than the one assigned? (2) precisely what right of appeal does a player have at the table? (3) how can we penalize an inept, uncool umpire? (4) can the referee, without being asked by the umpire, step in and penalize a player? (5) and, if so, who then does the player appeal to? (6) is there a (“Are you kidding?” Nope, I’m serious) difference between “Damn!...”Goddamn!”…and “God damn it!”? (7) is there a difference in how loudly the expletive is said? (One longtime experienced umpire told me, “It’s more a matter of manner than content. ‘Goddamn it!’ sotto voce is perhaps [sic: he’s not sure] not as bad as ‘Damn!’ at the top of your voice. At a competitive sporting event vulgarities are apt to erupt because players and spectators react passionately, so the umpire who’s unsure of, or uncomfortable with, rule by rote has to use subjective judgment. That’s why the idea of a warning [signaling where the umpire’s head is] is a good one.”)

Shouldn’t we have our National as well as International umpires outfitted? And equipped with appropriate manual and handbook? And that reminds me—where in the hell is the Umpire’s Manual?

The E.C. agreed to allocate $4,000 for Foreign Team hospitality at the upcoming U.S. Open.

It should be clear that in order to try out for a U.S. Team spot or play in the U.S. National Championships and the North American Championships, or play on a U.S. Team or in a National Junior Championship, a player must be either a U.S. citizen or a resident of the U.S. for two years and hold a Green Card at the time of competing. (Not subject to retroactive penalty under this rule, however, is anybody who participated in the ’84 U.S. Closed.”)

Beginning Sept. 1, 1985, eligibility for age events for both boys and girls, as well as those playing in events 40 and over, will be predicated on the age these players are on the first day of the tournament.

Our Junior membership, as I noted in an earlier chapter, is in a deplorable state—I was told that we now have less than 300 Junior members. Also, from Feb., 1984 to Feb., 1985 there was actually a decline in our adult membership. Who can do something about that? How?

The E.C. ruled that “the basis for the Selection procedure for the U.S. World Team would be the order of the International Team Squad (ITS) finish, except in extraordinary cases of illness or injury, in which case the Selection Committee may select an alternate player.”

Regarding the rule that our Association must keep at least 15% of a player’s sponsorship money if he (she) is to retain his amateur status, the E.C. asked that Sheila’s Players Committee find out the amount of money we’re talking about here, how much for how long has been held back from whom, then segregate such money, and decide precisely (perhaps with a special input from the players “taxed”) how it in part or whole should be used. (Perhaps expense money should be funneled back to the “taxed” players? Perhaps a fund set up?)

As planned, the E.C. signed with Joseph Potocki and Associates (JP&A). They’re especially interested in marketing the U.S. Team.

Sheila O’Dougherty said that at the Athletes Advisory Council Meeting Jan.12-13 in Los Angeles the point was made that ORTA, the agency that runs the Lake Placid Center, received complaints from the speed-skating people who said the facilities and service were bad. The question was raised as to whether there’ll continue to be a Training Center at Lake Placid.

It remains to be seen whether the Apr. 15-26 Camp for Intermediate to Advanced players will be held at Lake Placid. But the E.C. allocated $2,500 in prize money for the May 4-5, 1985 North American Championships there.

Boggan is disappointed that the Canadians had still not sent him the North American League and North American papers they’d approved at their last E.C. Meeting.

Here’s some information on the possibility of a Northern Michigan U.S. Training site: I, Tim, received a 26-page Facilities Information Brochure for the U.S. Olympic Training Center at Northern Michigan University in Marquette. Literally, almost every Olympic Sport was mentioned, could be accommodated—except Table Tennis. Bob Tretheway had told me earlier that the place was rather inaccessible, but perhaps we should take another look? Myron “Mike” Edgerton told me he’d like to teach a course in Table Tennis at his local Glenn Oaks Community College and would like a USTTA Coaching Certificate but that Colorado Springs is just too far for him to go. Marquette, he says, would be much better for him. Bob, any comment?

Gus Kennedy announced that he had raised several thousand dollars for the U.S. Team to the World’s.

The E.C. by a vote of 7-2 decided NOT to fund D-J Lee and Ai Liguo to the 1985 World Championships in Sweden. Nor will we fund a third umpire or a trainer/masseur there. As for SPIN Editor Tom Wintrich he should be helped. The USTTA will pay for Tom’s hospitality in Gothenburg; Tim out of his Presidential Discretionary Funds, will pick up Tom’s NY-Gothenburg-NY flight fare; and Tom himself will be responsible for his Colorado Springs-NY-Colorado Springs round- trip ticket.

Quite possibly Leah “Miss Ping” Neuberger will be at the Gothenburg World’s—she’s our USTTA liaison with the Swaythling Club International. I’m placing a very irate Jan. 23, 1985 letter I wrote to her, copies to the E.C., at the end of this chapter.***

Gary Ruderman, our new TV Chair, has an intense aesthetic interest in filming—and is taking some $30,000 worth of equipment to Gothenburg where, in addition to filming the major matches, he’s going to do a semi-documentary on the U.S. Team. Gary provided a film for us at the March E.C. meeting, and, impressed with his work, we agreed to pay his video “Floor” fees in Gothenburg.

The E.C. agreed not to consider sending U.S. juniors to China this summer via Hyson International. But the Norway-Sweden Junior trip was on—budgeted at $10,000. No coach though—the E.C. didn’t want to fund transportation and pay a salary for one.

Gus Kennedy was allotted $2,000 for the Apr. 22-28 Cuban Invitational. (We did field a Team, but no results ever appeared in SPIN.) The E.C. agreed to send Jimmy to the Pan Am Meeting in Puerto Rico—no, not Puerto Rico, the site will later be changed to Kingston, Jamaica.

Roger Sverdlik, representing the advertising firm of N.W. Ayer, addressed the E.C. But although we were favorably impressed by Roger’s personable presentation (the sport, he felt, was “ideal” for TV), we agreed that at the moment we just couldn’t hire him for a full-time job—his TV-advertising expertise was just too expensive for us. We tried to pursue the possibility of hiring Roger on some part-time basis, or for a specific TV-advertising project, but Roger regretted this was not possible.

The proposed 1985 Annegret Steffien-promoted Chinese Tour of the U.S. has been dropped.

The E.C. rejected Danny Seemiller’s proposed USTTA-Seemiller-Butterfly six-city tour.

Also, Danny’s proposal to be the male National Coach wasn’t going to work out. Danny hadn’t thought about (1) that, in holding such a USTTA-paid position, he couldn’t be on the E.C., and (2) that he couldn’t be both a money-oriented tournament player and a full-time National Coach.

Perhaps, however, Danny could be hired as an around-the-country USTTA Tournament Ambassador. (There must be 100 clubs in the country that would just love for Danny to hold a Friday night clinic then play in their tournament.) 

            Actually, as Danny gets older, he has his own exploratory thoughts on how to take advantage of his t.t. background. Here’s an interview I had with him Apr. 20th at Baton Rouge:

            “TIM: So, Danny, I hear you and partner Perry Schwartzberg have a surprise or two up your satiny sleeve. You’re both thinking more about Exhibition than Tournament play these days?

            DANNY: Yes, that’s true. At this transitory stage in my table tennis life, strange though it may sound, I’d rather be an Exhibition Master than a Tournament Champion. I’ve got to find a way to make a good living—and at this moment in History I can’t make the kind of money I want to make by winning a tournament now and then or by taking a full-time Coaching job for the USTTA.

            TIM: Well, I can sympathize with that, alright. It does seem that after all these years our five-time National Champion deserves to make a decent living in the Sport.

            DANNY. Yes, and it’s not only that—I want more celebrity status than I’ve got now. I want more vanity payment. Like the Harlem Globetrotters, Perry and I want to play before an entertained public. Nowadays when you play a tournament match, most off-the-street spectators, if there are any, just can’t understand the Sport; the spin’s too much for them, as it is for the players, who are quick alright—too quick to win or lose points. In the kind of show Perry and I are learning to put on—it’s of course not your usual Exhibition…Perry and I want to bring back some FUN into the game—the spectators will not only laugh at our jokes and tricks, but will enjoy seeing us just keep the ball in play.

            TIM: So you’re telling us that after all your Championships you’ve come full circle—are ironically reversing the normal development process and are moving from Table Tennis back to Ping-Pong?

            DANNY: that’s exactly what I’m telling you. But it’s pure entertaining Ping-Pong Perry and I will do—world-class Ping-Pong—and we’re sure people will relate to it. We think quite seriously we ought to be getting $1,000 a Show even before we’ve really perfected what we’re doing.

            TIM: How long—once you’ve perfected it—do you expect your Show to last?

            DANNY: Our regular Act will be about an hour. But we can be extremely flexible, can vary it anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours, depending on how many 31-point games we play.

            TIM: You have a basic format, then add jokes and tricks as you have time for them or want to work them in, is that it?

            DANNY: It’s like this. I’m the Champion, Perry’s the Challenger. I’m immaculately dressed. Perry’s sort of discount-sports sloppy. In the beginning the match looks for real—part of our aim is to show Ping-Pong at its aerobic best: that is, I primarily attack, Perry defends. But gradually the audience understands that—hey, what’s going on here?—the Champ, the pro who does everything well, is on the ropes, and the Challenger, who’s starting to cheat like crazy, is getting away with 75% of the calls.

            TIM: So you have an Umpire who’s part of the Show? A straight man?

            DANNY: Yes, it might be my dad, my wife, a friend. He (she) has an important job, one that he has to practice for too: he does all the talking. Of course we have to be vocally dramatic too. We can’t always hold ourselves in; we have to voice a protest now and then. Mostly, though, I, at least, being the good guy, try to preserve good sportsmanship decorum. Still, we both use lots of hand gestures and facial expressions—which means we both have to learn how to become professional actors.

            TIM: Yes, I’m sure your acting personas would be exciting and challenging for you—and help keep your work fun. But you don’t learn how to do all this overnight. And you need an audience, even in practice. How long before you think you’ll be ready with this Show?

            DANNY: It may take the better part of the summer. Everything’s got to be choreographed because there’s a rhythm to each game and to the overall match. The choreography is very physical and very tiring, tiring mentally as well. When you do tricks, you can’t afford to mess up, otherwise the surprise is gone. Perry and I know we have to work on pinpoint control, but of course with our rackets we can’t hit a dime on the table—we can’t have hard-bat precision. Sometimes you can recover from a mistake—if the Umpire balls you out (he can call an incorrect score, get confused, say one or the other of the players served out of turn, demand for whatever reason the point to be played over), then you may naturally get a chance to do the trick over again, but it won’t be as good.

            TIM: And what kind of audience will you begin performing for? As you imply, some will be more discerning and demanding than others.

            DANNY: Well, we’ve some options. It might be possible to start this summer on cruise ships and play military bases, where people would be glad just to have some diversion and where really they can’t be too demanding because after all it’s not costing them anything to watch us. They would give us very valuable feedback as to what works and what doesn’t. Also, we wouldn’t be under so much pressure and could ad-lib freely and take chances, could constantly experiment. In the fall, we could begin honing our Act in the Pittsburgh schools. In the beginning, we’d play these exhibitions free if we had to. The problem here is what kids laugh at—we have a gun racket that makes a noise like a cap pistol or a firecracker, a racket that shoots Ping-Pong balls at the students, a squirt-gun racket that says a favorite teacher’s all wet—is not necessarily what adults will laugh at. Still, it gives a chance to perfect our timing.

            TIM: So props are obviously a very important part of your Show?

            DANNY: Yes. For example, we play with a broken racket. This happens very early in the match. Tough break for Perry—the crowd who’s not yet tumbled to the comedy, is sympathetic. But then he goes for another racket, and so do I, and another, and another….We play with a racket that’s got a hole in it, like a trap-door. Perry begins with a 20-foot high-serve, which I smash so hard it bores a hole in the racket. Actually, Perry does a bit of slight-of-hand—as he digs in to foot-stamp a return, he forcefully taps the trap-door on the racket with his free hand, then looks properly astonished and whirls to the Umpire, holding up the racket for all to see. Can this point count? What in the world is modern technology coming to?

            TIM: So the Umpire, the straight man, doesn’t count the point. Yes, I can see how he can be very important.

            DANNY: Let me give you another example. We have a take-a-flash-picture racket. I mean, when it goes off, there’s a huge explosion of light. Perry and I pretend we’re blinded. As we look around the audience, as if to say, “Who the hell did that?” the umpire cautions, “No flash cameras, please.”

            TIM: What a racket.

            DANNY: Yeah. And we’ve got more—a magnetic racket, a mirror racket, a white flag racket (Perry uses that after I’ve made a series of good shots and he’s on his knees in mock surrender), even a ratchet racket.

            TIM: A ratchet racket? What’s that?

            DANNY: There’s a bolt on the bottom that can be finger-loosened to make the racket go out of control, to make an unplayable siren-like sound. So naturally Perry has to go get a ratchet out of his bag to tighten the bolt and stop the horn-like noise.

            TIM: Again I say, What a racket. You’re sure, though, you’ve two hours worth of such props?

            DANNY: No problem. We play with big and small rackets (small rackets for the small table we play on). We’ve got dead balls, different-colored balls, wobbly balls.

            TIM: And with your regular rackets you intersperse tricks?

            DANNY: Yep, all the time.

            TIM: Give me an example.

            DANNY: Well, we have an around-the-table trick. It begins with a scoop return Perry makes of my serve. The ball of course has so much backspin on it that I have to change over to Perry’s side to get at it. I then hit it down hard on his side but back towards my side of the table where Perry meanwhile has drifted to. I then wait expectantly for his return. But does he play fair? Oh no. He turns his back on me and swats it down on my side—off into the audience seated in the opposite direction.

            TIM: Ah, the bad guy makes a point. Exasperating, eh?

            DANNY: Yeah, and when it happens several times, and I’m frustrated, it sets up another small little trick. Disgusted at Perry’s lack of cooperation, I backspin a ball smack over his head, as if to make him go retrieve it. But Perry doesn’t move, just smiles sweetly, then, with colossal insouciance, he spreads his legs, and as the ball comes rolling back, spinning through, he reaches down, picks it up, and, all aplomb, still smiling, prepares to serve.

            TIM: More Gamesmanship from the bad guy—yeah, we get it…and we like it. So. O.K., when you two are finally good and bad enough, what happens? How do the big bucks come rolling in?

            DANNY: When we’re good enough we’ll make a tape of the Show, then hire one of the agents we’ve even now been talking to. I figure by the time I’m 35 Perry and I should have a fantastic resort-hotel nite-club Act. And with all the variables that we can possibly put into it, people will pay to see it not just once but again and again. Anyway, it doesn’t hurt to dream, huh?

            TIM: Of course, by all means, dream, Danny. I’m sure we wish you the best—you deserve it. But I must ask you this last very important question. You say you’d rather have your audience today go see Ping-Pong rather than Table Tennis. But isn’t that a betrayal of the Sport you’ve so long championed?

            DANNY: Well, I can only speak from my own personal, necessarily changing viewpoint. A competitive end is not the best end for a professional if he truly wants to have table tennis as a profession. When you’re 30 years old, your table tennis life doesn’t have to be over—even if you’re finding it more and more difficult to practice hours and hours each day or week. Surely all you’ve learned after a dozen or more years of very hard work shouldn’t just be thrown away while you’re off waiting on tables, say. I’d like to think that the career I’m about to embark on will be even more important than the one my years of many Championships gave me. Certainly it’ll be a voyage of discovery. In that, History will bear me out, don’t you agree?”           

            The E.C. wasn’t interested, as I’d hoped they would be, in Dick Miles’s suggestion that we fund a prototype USTTA club. But they were interested in the possibility of establishing table tennis clubs in tennis centers (perhaps through ads in tennis magazines), in country clubs, and resort hotels, and of running tournaments in such sport-upgrading facilities. It’s understood that both Tretheway and McClure (perhaps with the help of some manufacturers?) will actively pursue this project.

            The E.C. authorized an $1800 Slide/Cassette program that can be loaned to non-table tennis coaches (Phys. Ed. Teachers, for example) who could then better introduce the sport to their students.

            The E.C. agreed to fund Tretheway’s $500 request for USTTA participation in the Boy Scout’s Explorer Olympics. SPIN (Apr., 1985, 22) tells us that “through the combined efforts of Colorado Table Tennis Explorer Post #28 and the USTTA, the Colorado School for Deaf and Blind was to be the beneficiary of a program of two exhibitions and a tournament for 25 to 35 kids. This, however, was extemporaneously expanded to four exhibitions (the two additional ones for blind elementary school classes), and a 59-player tournament.”

            “An exhibition for deaf kids is understandable, but how do you show table tennis to the blind? Fortunately, a hard rubber racket was available (much easier to hear than inverted rubber) and plenty of balls. The class was first introduced to the ball, each kid getting his own to touch, bounce, and in some cases, taste. Several rackets were passed among them and then each student walked around the table, feeling it with their hands. A game to 11 points was then played with students participating by guessing when the ball was missed or went into the net. They were right every time; in fact, could tell immediately where a player missed the ball before it hit the net.”

            After each exhibition for the elementary to high school-aged deaf students, the kids were encouraged to sign up for a tournament that afternoon and evening.”

            “The school’s recreation director, Lynn Fleharty, was so surprised and excited about the students’ unexpected enthusiasm for table tennis that he is planning to start, with the help of the Explorer Post, a weekly program of instruction and has scheduled a sanctioned tournament in May.

            In July, the two-man team representing the United States at the World Games for the Deaf in Los Angeles will be training at the Colorado School for Deaf and Blind under the supervision of USTTA National Program Director Bob Tretheway.”   

            “Tretheway’s request for $900 to fund a Club Resource Manual was passed 5-2-1.

            The E.C. is currently in the process of trying to get “Profiles’ on all our USTTA clubs, and perhaps rate them so as to know better who to help first. If clubs have requests we will, if not grant them, consider them. Fred Kistler, for example, wants us to fund a robot for his Emmaus, PA club, but we declined. And Bill Davidson of the Jacksonville Club requests “a traveling semi-tractor trailer truck, complete with all equipment—tables, nets, barriers, scoreboards—to run a large tournament, which [with at least two experienced player/coaches?] would tour the U.S. helping clubs put on tournaments.

            Naturally we want to help those clubs who really care about belonging to the Association. Could you say Davidson’s request (not now, if ever, granted) encouraged the following controversial action?  Since last year only about 75 clubs ran tournaments, always a source of membership to the Association, the E.C. passed a motion “that beginning next year every USTTA sanctioned club must run at least one sanctioned open or closed tournament a year—else forfeit their USTTA affiliation.” 

SELECTED NOTES.

            *Though it’s clear in that asterisked paragraph that I support Eisner for Vice President in the upcoming USTTA election, I do occasionally get a mite irritated at his abrasiveness [though some would say I’m a bit abrasive myself]. On Feb. 23, 1985, he wrote a letter to me, which unfortunately I no longer have. Never mind, I view the short commentary I’m about to give you as another chance for interested readers to “see” me—weaknesses and strengths (which as I continue as USTTA President I’ll demonstrate more of). I thought Mel was—how shall I put this?—“insubordinate.” So I began my March 3, 1985 “Update” to the E.C. prior to our March 23-24 Colorado Springs Meeting in this way: 

            “1. I’d like to point-by-point comment on Mel’s to me too proprietary and in some ways oversimplified and even misdirected remarks of Feb. 23. I’d like to. But in the interests of HARMONY, I’ll, if not furiously, energetically confine myself to a general point or two.

            First, as the guy who’s been trying hard (I think with some success) to be a catalyst to Mel and other E.C. members, as well as to outside interested parties…I do see and have seen since I took office, with I should say about a continuing 65-75% effective E.C., the need both to assign responsibilities and to emphasize major efforts. So this bombast of yours (however much truth there is in it) is at least partially out of line.

            …I’m glad you think “a great deal” has been accomplished, for it seems to me that I’m the one who’s been most determined that we at least try to thrash something out at the E.C. table, that I’m the one who’s initially pushed to help the USTTA by giving an assist to Tretheway, Mason, Shirley, and (the help here is being delayed) Shumaker. My jump-in approach to action (though not without risk of failure) has on the whole worked well for me in my life and is surely as valid as (to me more valid than) any wait-and-calculate continuing debate that may or may not lead to action. Although I spend, to some degree, each day of my life in being analytic with regard to what serious writers say and how they say it, my longtime Humanities background warns me against holding absolute trust in Reason. Instinctively, I always try to couple my rational arguments with Emotion; if I don’t feel something is right or wrong, I’m wary of rationalizing about it.           

            My god, what a proprietary tone you consciously or unconsciously take with me in this Feb. 23rd letter. Do I need, or does, say, Dennis Masters need, your directing ‘Do it well, or don’t do it’ line? Do you forget who you’re talking to? Really, the rhetoric is absurd. Many of the things one does in his/her life, even the most necessary things, are often NOT done well—no matter how hard one tries. And yet one does try…and goes on. Because the idea of waiting…waiting…waiting until one improves with practice, or doesn’t improve, is unacceptable.

            I think, Mel, this (O.K., O.K., well-meaning and not without truth) Feb. 23rd letter of yours is something of an aberration. It bespeaks not your usual well-balanced thoughtfulness but your frustration. In coming at me, you indirectly come at yourself. I think you feel overwhelmed, as I sometimes do, because you really want what I want—for the sport to be quickly and visibly on the move. It’s a ‘burden’ to keep responding to my Up Date comments and other items of info that I so regularly send out. But, alright, enough said. A big kiss to you, Mel. Keep at it. Respond as you want…whether I like it or not.” 

            **Liguo has sports credentials:

            On Mar. 27, 1984, Zhang Xuhui of the Beijing Notary Public Office validated the following information about Ai Liguo before he left China to settle in the U.S.

“Born Feb. 1, 1942, he was a coach of the People’s Liberation Army from Jan., 1962 to Mar., 1971. He was a fitter at the Beijing Radio Equipment No. 1 from Mar., 1971 to Oct., 1973. From Oct., 1973 to Oct., 1978 he was a reporter at the Sports News. From Oct., 1978 to July, 1983 he was an editor at the Sports News. From July, 1983 to Mar., 1984 he was a vice-director of the Ball Games Department at the Sports News.”

China’s National Best Press Writing Committee selected Ai Liguo’s “Exciting Battle in Japan” as its 1980 award winner. 

            The Ais also tried hard to get Ai Liguo’s sister Lijie to come to the States to assist Li Henan at Colorado Springs. On Sept. 6, 1984, I’d written a Letter to her employer, the Principal of the Beijing Coal Industry School, urging that he give his permission for her to take a leave of absence. Principal An Guoqing agreed and signed a contract with President Boggan that specified Lijie must return to China within two years.

Bob Tretheway later followed up with an encouraging Feb. 26, 1985 letter inviting Lijie to live and work at the USOC Training Center. He writes: “It will be our pleasure to provide you with air fare from and back to China in addition to your living expenses while in the United States. As we view this as a sports exchange project we will not be able to offer you a regular salary.”

However, bad news. On Mar. 19, in answer to a Mar. 8 letter she herself had sent on behalf of Lijie to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, Li Henan received a letter from Paul N. Timmer, Vice Consul at the Embassy. Lijie was denied a nonimmigrant visa. The problem: Lijie “was unable to demonstrate strong economic, professional, and family ties which would cause her to return to China after a temporary stay in the U.S. The intervening consular officers noted that she earns a modest salary as a school teacher. And, in considering Ms. Ai’s family ties, the officers noted that she is unmarried, and that her brother and you currently reside in the United States.” In short, the consular officers didn’t think once out of China she’d return.

I tried again, hoping Mr. Timmer would reconsider. In addition to the expected entreaties as to how much we needed such an assistant, and the additional Sino-American goodwill it would provide, I tried this argument: ‘It’s awkward for me to say it, but don’t you think my Coaching Chairman and I look a bit ridiculous? Does anyone there in that Embassy really think that, in violation of a USTTA agreement with Mr. Guoquing, our Association would maneuver to keep Lijie in the U.S. illegally? Does anyone really think that with our excellent sports-ties to China we’d even consider doing that?”

The unspoken answer was, “Yes, we think you’d not only consider doing that, but might indeed actually do it.” 

***To the E.C.:

            I lost my temper at Miss Ping the other night, talked to her, as my agreeable wife Sally said, “much too long, making the same point over and over again.”

            However, not for 10 minutes but for 4-5 years have I been pleading with Ms. Ping, the U.S.’s longtime liaison with the Swaythling Club International, to please, please submit D-J Lee’s name for inclusion in this Club (which, as you know, is for players, captains, and officials who’ve participated in World Championships). The U.S. roster as of this moment contains the following names: Leah “Miss Ping” Neuberger, Mal Anderson, Heather Angelinetta, Laszlo Bellak, Bud Blattner, Tim Boggan, Houshang Bozorgzadeh, Elmer Cinnater, Peggy McLean Folke, Rufford Harrison, Magda Gal Hazi, Tibor Hazi, George Hendry, Allan Herscovich, Gus Kennedy, Erwin Klein, Mark Matthews, Jimmy McClure, Dick Miles, Lou Pagliaro, Bill Price, Sally Green Prouty, John Read, Marty Reisman, Sol Schiff, and Mildred Shahian.

            Over the years and through my most recent, screaming phone conversation, Miss Ping has unwaveringly refused to submit D-J’s name—offering such excuses as: “He’s not old enough”…“He only wants to join because he thinks he can get free hospitality at the World’s”…“You don’t understand, Tim, you have to be invited to join”…“D-J’s on the waiting list; his turn will come”…“Do you want him to take your place, Tim?”

            In short, after all this time, I’ve become totally exasperated with Miss Ping. I’m angered by her lack of cooperation in giving what I think any sane person without a bug up his or her ass would think is just due to our great U.S. Singles and Doubles Champion and many-time U.S. World Team member.

            As you know, I’ve brought this matter up at a previous E.C. meeting and I’m bringing it up again now. Because of Miss Ping’s continued recalcitrance (not incidentally, one of the aims of the Club “is to help each other whenever possible”), I intend to (1) relieve her of her position on the ITTF’s Standing Orders Committee and (2) ask the E.C. to recommend someone to take her place. I also intend to appeal to Swaythling Club President Joe Veselsky, a popular, politic fellow who, when I’ve repeatedly asked him, has always seemed agreeable to D-J’s inclusion, to please appoint a new U.S. Swaythling Club liaison to take Miss Ping’s place. (If necessary, I intend to use my influence to get our U.S. Swaythling Club members to support this request.)

            Call it “blackmail” (as Miss Ping did) or anything you like, but, as I see it, I’ve been waiting patiently for a very long time, and now that I have some power to express my displeasure in some meaningful way—my displeasure at the injustice of Miss Ping’s inaction—I want to use this power.

            However, because I know Miss Ping is naturally (and justifiably) proud, and because I see her, as everyone else does, as a remarkable Champion and great historical figure long respected in the Sport, before I take this official admittedly punitive action, I’m going to give it one last (this time public) try. Perhaps a more diplomatic head than mine, perhaps someone himself or herself in the Club, can convince Miss Ping of the justice of my no longer request but demand.

            Otherwise—how long can I wait (no longer than Feb. 1) and what more can I say?—I’m going to do what I said I’d do—replace Miss Ping.” 

This brought only a single reply (Jan. 25th) from my E.C.

Mel Eisner asked, “Why not have her send a letter explaining her point of view? A four-five-year matter being ‘resolved in two-three days. How foolish!’” 

Conclusion: Miss Ping has agreed to welcome D-J into the Swaythling Club. Pay your $10, D-J. Case closed.