HISTORY OF U.S. TABLE TENNIS: Vol. VI, 1970-1973
Typeset by Larry Hodges, USATT Hall of Famer
Printed by The Outer Office
Review by Mitch Seidenfeld
With the History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume VI, Tim Boggan’s passion, purpose, and profession converge to produce a masterwork. He delivers a multi-dimensional and deeply personal recounting of U.S. table tennis in the early seventies. Readers crisscross the U.S. experiencing the trials and tribulations of tournament play, developing clubs, and a national association still charting its course.
From its introduction through to the final chapter, the book teems with confrontation, competition, and controversy. During the “combative” 1972 USTTA Presidential campaign Tim Boggan and Jack Carr engage in a battle for the heart and soul of the national organization. Changes to U.S. Team selection allow a young Danny Seemiller to side-step organizational politics and win his way onto a U.S. World Team that shows signs of First Division promise. And throughout the book timeless debates rage on over how to increase membership and return our national team to international respectability. Letters to the Editor, USTTA Executive Committee Minutes, and personal correspondence combine to bring perspective to a surprisingly diverse set of arguments.
In Vol. VI, Boggan faces one gigantic problem; himself. How will Tim Boggan, Historian be able to objectively evaluate Tim Boggan, Editor of Topics, President of USTTA, and father of two emerging superstars? His introduction eloquently addresses the problem and his solution draws heavily on the credibility he has built up over the years. He will do his best, and if good enough for him, it should be good enough for the rest of us. And it is. As Editor of Table Tennis Topics, Boggan was accused, more than once, of keeping the last word for himself. In Vol. VI, he is careful to leave the high ground unclaimed. What we remember are choice excerpts of well-written letters that support competing views.
In detailing matches, Boggan’s signature style is brilliant. So much happens so very quickly. He attacks each match from every possible angle. He weaves action with plot, character, and setting. He layers motivation and philosophy on top of tactics and scores. Conflict is everywhere. Where many observers see only wins and losses, blowouts and nail-biters; he highlights turning points, patterns of play, and momentum changes. Boggan is at his best when he uses classical allusions to bring meaning and texture to the tournament matches he unapologetically trumpets “as the lifeblood of the Association.”
And well-deserved credit goes to Larry Hodges for much of the page layouts. My earliest table tennis memories jumped out at me as I flipped from page to page. There are pictures of Magoo’s, my hometown club in Minneapolis, and its driving forces, Charlie Disney and Don Larson; Ted Stomma, the director of my first out-of-state tournament; Doc Goldstein, my first coach; and a poster for the $8000 Minnesota Classic, a high profile event that sparked my initial interest and my father’s return to the sport. Vol. VI contains hundreds of wonderful pictures, many contributed by Mal Anderson, that give it a satisfying visual dimension despite the financial realities of the project.
If you haven’t read this volume or earlier volumes of the History of U.S. Table Tennis, I encourage you to do so. Tim Boggan has given us our history. What we do with it will determine our future.