HISTORY OF U.S. TABLE TENNIS: Vol. III, 1953-1962
Typeset by Larry Hodges, USATT Hall of Famer
Printed by The Outer Office
Review by Si Wasserman
USATT Historian Tim Boggan, indefatigable and omnipresent on the U.S. Table Tennis scene for over five decades, has delivered Vol. III of his sweeping history of U.S. Table Tennis. Every faithful follower of the Game, for little more than the cost of a sheet of rubber, can own this comprehensive copy of the years 1953-1962 that chronicles an evolutionary and turbulent chapter in the realm of Table Tennis.
In the opening segment of Boggan’s continuing saga, he flashes back to 1952 when Hiroji Satoh, ranked No. 5 in Japan, and wielding a novelty sponge covered bat, demolishes the world’s elite players to snatch the Bombay world singles title. This stunning coup launched the sponge bat era! Boggan proceeds to explore the metamorphosis of hard rubber into sponge, which spawned vehement controversy that resonates to this day!
Boggan’s panorama of U.S. Table Tennis ranges from extensive coverage of tournaments, consequential USATT Executive Committee decisions, selection of teams to international events, and personality profiles to the latest skinny about the motley denizens at Herwald Lawrence’s famous Broadway emporium featuring such luminaries as Miles, Reisman, Cartland, Pagliaro, Schiff, Somael and Neuberger, the globe-trotting exploits and sometimes zany adventures that earned suspensions for Marty Reisman and Doug Cartland, Boggan’s parenthetical comments as he challenges, chides, castigates or praises, as appropriate, players, officials and especially members of the national governing body, and, of course, photos galore of players who graced the tournament trails and officials who flourished during this pivotal period.
Boggan’s insight of the Game emerges as he observes that all who are attracted to Table Tennis, especially tournament players, suspend reality and indulge in “self-deception of dreams” and “illusions” and are “willing to … risk … being thought … absurd to try to create a world in which they have an identity, a place.” These quotations, among others, are a revelation and a valid venture into psychodynamics.
Boggan’s probing point of view elevates what could have been dull, dry and dismal into vivid, vibrant and vigorous narration. His deft dissection of the vicissitudes of this seminal period is at once pragmatic and provocative.
Our Sport is indeed fortunate to have Tim Boggan, with consummate credentials, willing at age 73 to maintain the work ethic necessary to create an authentic and scholarly chronology of U.S. Table Tennis. Boundless bravos to Boggan for his assiduous application to legitimize and enhance our struggling sport.
Three tomes of his towering and noble labor of love are reality. Four more would culminate a seven volume tour de force. For the edification and pleasure of the Game’s contemporaries and posterity, would that Providence grant consummation of our precious scholar’s formidable dream: The fascinating, Kaleidoscopic Odyssey of U.S. Table Tennis.