By Tim Boggan, USATT Historian

  Typeset by Larry Hodges, USATT Hall of Famer

   Printed by The Outer Office

    Review by Dean Johnson


“Prolific” is inadequate to describe Tim Boggan. In less than nine years he has documented the history of table tennis in the U.S. in nine volumes; not only with facts, figures and results but with well-written commentary on the development of our sport, it’s players and events from it’s earliest beginnings in this country.


His recently published 508-page Volume IX may be Tim’s finest, most informative, best illustrated work to date and is a must for every collector’s table tennis library.


In covering the years 1977-1979, Tim writes in detail about the important events and people of the period – behind-the-scenes political battles for USTTA Executive Committee positions, important tournament results – both National (U.S. Nationals, U.S. Open, USOTCs, numerous local tournaments) and International (with intriguing names such as the Love Bird Invitational in Jamaica), The Maccabiah Games, Caribbean Championships, Hong Kong Invitational, Canadian Open and the 1979 Worlds in Pyongyang.


This is also a period in which Danny Seemiller/Insook Bhushan dominated a series of money tournaments and a year after Danny begins his run of 5 U.S. Nationals Singles titles (in addition to 6 consecutive CNE Men’s Championships.) Insook would go on to win the U.S. Open in 1977 and 11 Nationals Women’s Singles titles.


A most unusual tournament on which Tim reports is the World Racquets Championship. On Sunday, May 29, the Vitalis-sponsored event was telecast by CBS Sports with Don Criqui and Tony Trabert, the Captain of America's Davis Cup Team, reporting the action. The five invited participants, representatives of their particular sport, were: Bjorn Borg (tennis), Sharif Khan (squash),  Danny Seemiller (table tennis), Charles  Brumfield (racketball), and Fleming Delfs (badminton).


The conditions of this superstar event was that no champion could play his own sport.


The show was taped the Monday before, May 23, at the spacious Homowack Lodge resort in the New York Catskills. You’ll find more details on this unique tournament and the overall results in Volume IX.


Tim also offers a father’s view on the meteoric rise of his sons, Scott and Eric in table tennis. It’s quite astonishing that while deeply involved in USTTA administration, the publishing of a book, publishing of the Association magazine, and maintaining a high level of his own play, Tim Boggan helped develop not one, but two National Champions. In the June 1977 U.S. Open, for example, Scott narrowly defeated Eric in the final of the Juniors. Eric would go on to win the U.S. Nationals in 1978 (at 15 the youngest ever to win the event) and, after winning the U.S. Open in 1983, he won the Nationals again in 1984. Scott won the Nationals in 1981 defeating Eric in the final. When Tim was asked how his boys generally do against each other his answer was that “down through the years Eric and Scott have alternated beating each other. In fact, some people say that's one reason why they've both become good – because, no matter how much each has improved, each has refused to let the other outdo him.”


In Volume IX, Tim also shines a light on some of the now-legendary figures who were at the top of their games in his Volume III – Sol Schiff, Marty Reisman, Bobby Gusikoff, Bernie Bukiet and Leah Neuberger.


One of the features of the June 1977 Hollywood, California U.S. Open was a hardbat event which was won by Franz-Josef Huermann; but in Tim’s report, his spotlight shines most brightly on the semis match between Marty and Ray Guillen. Here’s Tim’s description of the match:


“Reisman, the Black Knight, showed his formidable strength not by losing the Ist game but by winning the 2nd at deuce, and if he'd won that 24-22 3rd game ... but back he came in the 4th, and on into the 5th where, down 13-17, back be came again to 17-18. But Ray could rise to the occasion too. Just as he was not intimidated by the pressure situations he faced at the Birmingham World's, so finally was he not intimidated by this aging 47-year-old man-god.


Ray knew what he was doing when he played steady defense and allowed Marty to roll and drop him. He knew what to do when he came in – he had a perfect touch and never missed a drop. Moreover, Marty really did not hit his famous cigarette-trick forehand hard enough to worry Ray. But those who remember that Reisman forehand of old are not yet ready to say that it can't be resurrected – wherever the underground of our Sport must eventually take him.”


When Tim’s spotlight shifts to Bobby Gusikoff it reveals the controversy surrounding the 1977 Open “organized” by Bobby. Tim is sympathetic to Bobby’s difficulties in running the Open: “. . . Bobby Gusikoff did as much as he could, and wanted to do more, and that from the beginning he hoped his Open would be memorable – hence, in place of cheap plastic trophies, the unusual obelisk-pedestal ones, and the 36-page Program in which he tried to honor the Sport by bringing back historic photos and stories from the past. Also, whatever the faults of the venue, or the mistakes made by Bobby . . . I hope one remembers that from a point of view favoring spectator-player interaction it was a crazy, wonderful Open.”


Tim also reports and offers his opinions on a controversy in which Bobby was embroiled as a result of an incendiary article he wrote (and which Tim, as Editor, published) in the September/October issue of Table Tennis Topics. Read about how the fallout from the article continued for months after its publication.


Leah “Miss Ping” Neuberger made an appearance as Captain of the team to the Korea-Germany-U.S. Invitational Women’s Goodwill Games in South Korea in September 1977.


The subject of the cover story for Volume IX is the successful effort by Bill Haid, with the help and support of Sol Schiff and Bowie Martin, to raise enough funds to hire and staff an Executive Director position and to establish a permanent USTTA headquarters location – a move which raised the hopes of many in the Association that the USTTA is now “moving in the right direction.”


Of considerable significance to come out of the EC meeting at Caesar’s Palace on December 20, 1977 was the formation of a Committee – John Read, Leah Neuberger and Steve Isaacson – to assist Bill Haid in the establishment of a U.S. Table Tennis Hall of Fame.


1979 marked the publication of the first Table Tennis Annual. Tim Boggan, in a message to the Editor, Tom Wintrich, wrote: "by far, the single, most outstanding publication the USTTA in its 50-year history has ever produced.”


Also, in 1979, at a meeting with Sung Chung, head of the All-China Sports Committee during the U.S. Team’s visits to Peking, China changed their previous policy of boycotting the Olympics and agreed to participate in the Games with Taiwan ("as long as neither one used the former flag and anthem of China"). A decision was reached where the U.S. would pursue China 's interest in getting into the Olympic Games, while China , abetted by USTTA President Sol Schiff, would use its influence to restore membership of South Korea in the Asian Sports Federation.


We cannot end this review without crediting Mal Anderson with the 140 photographs of his that make this volume a showcase for his talents and for the contribution that he’s made in documenting our sport for more than 50 years.


And what more can we say about Tim Boggan and his latest achievement? “We hope you never stop adding to the great body of work you have created. The table tennis community is grateful for the effort and contribution you’re making and I’m hopeful that every reader of this magazine will invest $40 in a copy of Volume IX, invest in our sport and support the effort Tim is making in chronicling and interpreting the History of U.S. Table Tennis.