Mal Anderson

Mal Anderson wasn't exposed to any real table tennis until he started attending the University of Wisconsin in 1956. There he was greatly impressed by the University Champion--Steve Isaacson--who 10 years later would found our USATT Hall of Fame.

After graduating, Mal lived in Milwaukee for 18 months and, as he said, "observed with astonishment" the rapid improvement of Danny Pecora in particular, who in the mid-1960's would be the Toronto CNE Champion in Singles and Doubles.

Since Mal was born in 1938, he must have been in his early 20's when Norman Kilpatrick, the then Editor of Topics, and about to become our USTTA President, appointed him Staff Photographer of the magazine. This eventually led Mal to become Chair of the USTTA Photography Committee--a position he held for 23 years.

Perhaps even more important at the time, at least for a while, was the fact that his table tennis improved, so much so that he actually won a tournament--the 2nd Army Championship. All very official--Herman Prescott, soon to be our USTTA President--was the umpire.

Mal continued to improve his play and, on moving to Philadelphia, was ranked #6 in Pennsylvania for the '68-69 season. He formed a long-lasting friendship with Erich Haring, another Pennsylvania Top 10 player, and gradually the two of them became more and more interested in working to preserve their home-away-from-home Philadelphia Club and in officiating at major tournaments. For 10 straight years, Mal umpired the final of the U.S. Open Men's Doubles.

It was back at the Nov., 1962 N.J. USOTC's, under the watchful eye of Examiner Cyril Lederman, Chair of the USTTA Rules, Referees, and Umpires Committee, that Mal took the USTTA Umpire's Exam, and to his surprise was the first person to pass it.

In 1972 Mal himself became Chair of this Rules, or, as it was later called, Legislative Committee, and served in that capacity for well over 20 years. Remember the judge-in-robes logo--Your Honor looked anything but playful--I, as Editor of Topics, playfully placed in front of Mal's monthly "Rules" column? Perhaps it suggested more controversy than Mal, generally interested in clarifying what was permissable and what wasn't, aroused.

In 1973 Anderson became the U.S.'s first International Umpire. And soon thereafter he started his 20-year service on the ITTF Rules Committee, first as a member, then as the Secretary under Chair Colin Clemett.

You'd think that Mal would have enough to do--what with playing in tournaments, doing many odd jobs at his home club, officiating, and communicating--as late as 1994, in just that one year alone, he wrote almost 50 letters on USTTA and ITTF business. But he also found time to run for USTTA office. He was Vice President for 8 years and Recording Secretary for 2 more--all in all, 10 years on the Executive Committee.

But all these accomplishments pale somewhat when I think of what Mal told me in 1994. That he had almost 40,000--40,000!--photos of table tennis players taken over a span of 40 years. Such an historic record--some representation of which I tried to show in the three posterboards of his photos I'd made up for his induction into the Hall.

The sheer accumulation, the weight, of Mal's photos have come to show me a world where not only is Mal one of us, but ALL are one of us--a world of basic human values and relationships. In other words, in all its rich and complicated variety, a spiritual world. To me, personally, Mal's pictures bring back decades of wonderful memories and soul-fulfilling friendships--and, as I myself always wanted to see more and more of them, I hoped others did too, and so, in honoring Mal at the Banquet, I showed a number of these photos on a slide screen.

Mal has taken some of his best pictures at the Toronto Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) tournament, or, as it was sometimes called, the Canadian International Open, for many years the most prestigious and warmly enjoyable tournament for U.S. players, even West Coast players, other than the National's or perhaps the USOTC's. One slide-photo showed the 1930's and '40's European International and later 9-time Canadian Closed Champion Max Marinko as he appeared on the Oct., '62 issue of Topics. An unlucky 13 years later, when Max died at 58 of stomach cancer, Mal went to his funeral. `

One of Mal's most famous pics was of the '71 CNE hair-flowing finalist Peter Pradit.

Another--perhaps more infamous than famous--is of me, very much the ruffled-shirt dandy at a '69 CNE party. "Dig that crazy Nehru jacket," I said, "passe over 30 years ago. Who would wear such a thing?" It was what, for a joke, I as MC was wearing that very 1997 Induction evening.

Ah, an historic photo of CNE Women's winner Kimiyo Matsuzaki Kurimoto, World Singles Champ in '59 and '63. Looking on is Marge Walden, Canadian Historian since History itself began.

Paul Raphel--remember him? Here he is, '72 CNE Junior winner, hitting out in the Men's against Karl Johan Bernhardt, Swedish teammate of World Men's Doubles Champions Alser and Johansson. Paul had Bernhardt down 2-1 and at 19-all in the 4th.

Bernhardt again, squat-serving to a win in that '72 CNE final against Jamaican Orville "Les" Haslam.

And Bernhardt's reward--a smothering kiss. Who that shameless young California Champion is, I'll not name, except to say she eventually turned her attentions to another Swede.

Note the identifying thumb ring--that photo shows at least the hand of Fuarnado Roberts, later President of the mid-'70's, short-lived Players' Association.

Mal has written, without false modesty, that he's simply a "basic technical coach" interested in teaching youth whatever he can. Here he is, getting down to basics, showing Miss Murielle Stern the acceptable ball-in-hand serve position.

Sometimes in his role as Umpire Mal finds himself enforcing the Clothing Rule. Here he up-close checks to see if this naive Junior Miss's quite skimpy playing outfit meets USTTA standards. See how he tries to get the feel of whether Angie's skirt gives her enough freedom of movement.

Oh, alright--we'll get to some real Juniors. Here's one of my favorites. The youthful doubles team of Bobby and (he can just see over the table top) David Gusikoff practicing at the '68 NYC Vanderbilt Invitational.

And these juniors, how young they look--Scott Boggan, Jimmy Butler, Todd Sweeris, and Eric Owens talking it over with proud father Kenny.

Mal often takes "happy" photos. Here's Danny Seemiller with his first big Men's Doubles win--the '72 Pennsylvania Open at the Philly Club. His slap-hands partner? Joe Rokop.

You'd be congratulated too if you did what this man did. That's Richard McAfee more than a quarter of a century ago at the '72 Detroit USOTC's putting an end to D-J Lee's consecutive winning streak of hundreds of matches. Way to go, Richard.

And, are you looking on from someplace, Hal? In this moving sequence, Alice Green has just won her semi's to advance to the final of the 1973 U.S. Open and into her father's open arms. Nice, huh?

Here's "Ping-Pong Diplomacy" at its finest--Glenn Cowan and John Tannehill.

Now, another of my favorites, the happiest one of--OOPS! Uh, sorry, a mix-up. No, Marty, grimacing over caviar and cola, did not make the '73 U.S. World Team. Maybe next year.

In fact, Reisman couldn't even beat THIS one-of-a-kind character, a legendary, every-night denizen of Marty's N.Y. Broadway club, Joe Greene, the self-styled "Phantom." In this photo the "Phantom's" hiding his left hand, for he always wore a large winter mitten on it, off court or on. It was said, particularly by the Phantom, that he had an IQ higher than Einstein's. An IQ, he explained, was an intelligence test. He not only never lost to Marty, at Marty's Club it was understood that he never lost to ANYBODY. Sometimes he would have marathon games--a 38-36 one was not uncommon, and then the tension was almost unbearable--but somehow the "Phantom" always won.

O.K., for so many over the years, Anderson's photos have meant FUN. And what better way to prepare Mal now for some much deserved flashbulb-bursting applause than to show this winner swatting the ball. Mal, I've got to say, we've all got to say, this photo of puss, paw, and net is "The Cat's Meow."

2012 Addendum:
At the Hall of Fame Banquet in Dec., 2011, Mal was honored with the Mark Matthews Lifetime Achievement Award. By then, his record of having taken 40,000 table tennis photos had climbed to more than 57,000--an amazing historical achievement.