HISTORY OF U.S. TABLE TENNIS: Vol. VIII, 1975-1977

 By Tim Boggan, USATT Historian

  Typeset by Larry Hodges, USATT Hall of Famer

   Printed by The Outer Office

    Review by Ray Mack

Thus spake the historian, for the eighth time.

Not really sure why I got the privilege to review Tim Bogganís Volume VIII in his continuing, long, well recorded history. Maybe itís because I played in that era, had some knowledge of the East and West players. Heck, I probably lost to most of them! It took me a long time to write the report, and I hope it wasnít because of laziness or procrastination. No, I think it was because I savored it so, and knew that I was reviewing it betwixt publications of our USATT mag. I chewed up a few pages at a time, or chapters, and really enjoyed it so.

This journal covers the years 1975-1977. Itís four to six years after Ping Pong Diplomacy of 1971, and some things have changed in the U.S. Using all native born players (but no juniors yet, though there were big overtures to select one or two for our world teams in í77 so we might continue to improve in the future), we came in second in Division II to jump to Division I for the í79 worlds. Thanks for much of that success goes to Danny Seemiller, then world No. 29, who was an astounding 26-0! There are tons of pictures (average Joes and the top dogs of the day, U.S. and world), plenty of tournament coverage, from the semiís of the Dís in the South Podunk local to the semiís of the Open championships. Itís 508 pages long, for Godís sake! It was the end of the hippie era, before Disco, and our hair was ridiculous. Mike Bush-y, long, sometimes looking unkempt.

Boggan had his ideas, his agenda, so to speak, but was always open to allowing others to downgrade him (with passion, of course). His was an open, two way attempt at communication, whether it was members of the EC or regular tournament players, badmouthed or not. He respects passion, of that Iím sure. What Tim wanted for his sport was a new professionalism, some perks for the top players, and even for that next level of players. He reports of players who wouldnít be seeded in the nationals, and maybe wouldnít get to the money rounds, or be allowed to play in the Aís (to win money), either. Tough spot, indeed!

Sure, his writing is a bit hard on some, to get the cadence, or follow the switched nouns and verbs. But I like it and am used to it by now, after all these many years. However, lots of the text in the book comes from otherís reports. And, what you might want to do is read the passage again. I found in many cases that I could get the in-jokes after reading his carefully placed words, or just pay attention. Itís wonderful, really.

It was the days when rackets still had the same color on both sides, and it was ruining the game for many a player who thought it unfair (on any level). In these times, competitors who lost in the first round were placed in the Consolation round. Also, you might find yourself in the 17As or Senior As, and round robins were not too routine yet. Ratings were popular by now.

As big thinkers like Bob Kaminsky try to promote the game, the "Sakaiís the limit" (great pun!) for the North American inter-city Team league event in early í76. Money was really an issue, as despite playing to a third place finish, Fuarnado Roberts (playing for New England??!) spent over $160 in tournament costs to win $20! I still remember taking part in some of those matches in Maryland. But I couldnít remember playing or even beating the exciting Jerry Thrasher, whose two wing loops were way ahead of his time.

Read this volume to see who coined the term "zoop". We learn who won third place in the Kanawa, West Va. 1974-75 league (Coy Hughes at 38-6, perhaps his style was "coy", too?). There are lots of tournament writeups for Stipancic, Surbek, Bengtsson, and other world players of the time. Read it to find out í75 world champion Istvan Jonyerís curious way to put the ball on the opposite side of table after losing a game! Wish I could do that.

Tim devotes pages about E.C. meetings and the votes to pass bylaws or good ideas. He thinks itís important to know whoís pushing what, and whoís behind who. The USTTPA (Players Association) was born. The top players wanted MORE, and probably deservedly so. Because it was the same old, same old, of course with money winnings of $100-150 (if they were lucky), who can blame them? To put it nicely, there were "factions" in table tennis at the time, boycotting the U.S. Open, and even the world tryouts for 1977. Tim wrote an article named "Uncommon Sense" at the turbulent times of the U.S. Open in Philadelphia (1976). Does anybody remember why Tim himself broke his own kidsí national U-15 and U-13 winning trophies? Interesting times, indeed! You can find that out, and much more.

Did you know that Brad Faxon (PGA tour) was an up and coming junior in the New England area? Do you wonder if he chose the right game/sport?

Finally, if you donít buy this book, then youíre missing something. It will be akin to winning 2-0, 8-4, only to lose the match to an undeserving opponent.