Paddleball History - by Chris Lecakes

Paddleball and its near-twin game of Racquetball are among the fastest growing sports in America today. Played by experts, the game presents a dazzling display of speed, maneuverability and techniques that is the equal of any sport in the world. Yet, its relatively simple nature and ready availability of the necessary equipment make it equally attractive and exciting For more casual participants. For all its growing popularity, the origin of Paddleball is vague. While it is true that hitting a ball with the hand or some form of bat is known to be among the oldest pastimes known to man, the actual beginnings of Paddleball can be traced no further than the early l900s. In the years before World War I, and indeed for some years thereafter, handball was the rage for men in cities and towns throughout the U.S. Among those attracted to the sport was Dr. Frank Peer Beal of Brooklyn, N.Y. However, Dr. Beale soon discovered that his brittle hands could not take the punishment of hitting the hard ball used for the game. So that he might continue his enjoyment of the sport, he devised a paddle stick with which he could strike the ball. He made a number of these crude paddles which he and his friends would use to bat the ball against any expanse of wall that was available to them. Dr. Beal’s interest and enthusiasm for the game continued as its rules and equipment were developed. When the U.S. Paddleball Association, then known as the Metropolitan Paddleball Association, was formed in 1959, some of its members consulted with Dr. Beale who was then in his seventies. His recollections and reminiscences of the game were both inspiring and helpful to its modern proponents. While Dr. Beale died in the 196Os, he is still known to many of those who have played an important part in popularizing the game as the “Father of Paddleball”, a title he would have been honored and delighted to bear.

Chris Lecakes

Original President - United States Paddleball Association, U.S.Pb.A.

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