1941-42: Hazis Become U.S. Citizens Through a "Private" Bill Passed by Congress, and Move to Washington D.C. 1942: Winter Tournaments/First Appearance of Thelma "Tybie" Thall. 1942: Price, Tiny Moss Win Western’s; Pagliaro, Magda Hazi the Eastern’s. 1942: Pagliaro and Green Win Third Successive U.S. Open Singles.
At the Intercities, Hazi, in helping his New York team to the Championship with his 12-4 record, was the second choice of the Team Captains who voted to give the Outstanding Player Award to Holzrichter (13-1). But Tibor (and Magda too) had already won a bigger prize than any table tennis tournament could give—an Outstanding Citizen Award, as it were. The Feb., 1942 Topics reported that..."Through the efforts of Dr. Harold Dudley, Secretary to Hon. James J. Davis, Senator from Pennsylvania, a ["private"] bill was recently passed by Congress admitting Tibor and Magda Gal Hazi as [U.S.] citizens" (9). This bill ("For the relief of Tibor Hoffman and his wife Magda Hoffman"—the Hazis’ legal names) was formally approved Nov. 21, 1941 and signed by President Roosevelt Nov. 26, 1941 (T/MHS, 61).
On Jan. 14, 1942, the Hazis "met with a number of Senators and other officials in the rotunda of the Capital," publicly affirmed their wish to be citizens, then, prior to an evening organ recital in their honor at the Mormon Washington Chapel, were feted at the Shoreham Hotel at a dinner attended by Senator Davis, Dr. Dudley, and USTTA and DCTTA officials, among them USTTA Treasurer Morris Bassford,
The Hazis were helped in part because former USTTA President Carl Zeisberg introduced them to Washington, D.C. table tennis official, Lt. Col. George Foster, who was about to resign as Chair of the USTTA Law and Organization Committee, citing the pressure of his work in the Assistant Secretary of War’s Office. At Foster’s urging, the Hazis moved to Washington, where Tibor became Manager of the Beryl English-owned Columbia Courts (14th St. & Park Rd. NW), and promptly committed himself to running the Mar. 14-15 Eastern’s there, even putting down a new floor for the event.
Wasting no time, he and Magda began giving exhibitions—at high schools, universities, a Boys’ Club, the National Press Club—all before "well over 30,000" people in just the first month after their arrival. When President Roosevelt’s (1941-45) Vice-President, Henry Wallace, who’d visited Hungary as a young man, and had always enjoyed playing table tennis, found out that Hazi had moved to Washington, he asked him to come for a visit. "Don’t stay for more than 15 minutes," Tibor was advised. But Hazi and Wallace hit it off so well that Tibor stayed 2 and 1/2 hours.
Afterwards, Tibor saw Wallace two or three times a week, occasionally had dinner at his home. ("The Vice-President’s wife washed dishes," he said. "I was amazed--I dried.") Hazi and Wallace played tennis together, and, when Wallace even came to Tibor’s Columbia Courts ("Never asked for a favor," said Tibor), the hype was that the V.P. might play in the Veterans’ at the Morris Bassford/Beryl Shapiro-run 1943 Eastern’s.
The Jan. 29-31, 1942 Manhattan Championships, however, were strictly for Broadway Courts New Yorkers. In the Women’s, Edna Sheinhart beat Davida Hawthorn, then Bernice Charney in the final. Pagliaro, not surprisingly, won the Men’s. Miles, having taken out Pinner in 5, was runner-up. "I liked attackers," Freddie Borges, reminiscing, told me. "Pinner was my idol until Miles came along. Dick had a very unusual style. He wasn’t a retriever, he didn’t just get the ball back—it was very difficult to handle his heavy-spin chop. When he chopped, he was still the aggressor, for those who normally attacked had so much trouble with his ball that they began to push, and then Dick would come leaning in and begin hitting that precise forehand.
Miles, on reflection, would echo Freddie’s thoughts. In the old Hardbat game, he said, the public could perceive what was happening on court. They could understand that a player’s stiff chop was helping to set up his follow-up forehand winners. In the new spinny sponge game, the public’s perception is that the players are making lots of mistakes. But really it’s those players’ opponents who are responsible for the winners. Only, the exact ways in which these winners come about are not perceived by many in the modern-day audience.
The 60-entry Jan. 17-18 Ohio State Open at Akron saw 27-year-old Leah Thall win every event open to her. This was the more noteworthy because she broke her glasses before the tournament started and had to keep borrowing this or that pair from others. In the Singles Leah beat Toledo teenager Barbara Cannon, 13 years her junior. In the Women’s Doubles she paired with Gladys "Pete" May to defeat Barbara and her older sister June, fast-improving daughters of Ed Cannon who, having retired momentarily from t.t. office, was about to come back as USTTA Tournament Chair and Co-Editor of Topics. In the Mixed, completing her hat trick, Leah scored a 1st with Billy Holzrichter over the newly married Nashes.
Holzrichter won the Men’s—over Max Hirsch. And also, paired with Bob Anderson, the Doubles—registering his own hat trick with a 16, 13, -20, 21 victory over the obstinately resistant Harry Sage/Sam Shannon duo. Toledo’s Don Feak was the Veterans’ winner—over Hammond’s Matt Fairlie, next season’s Indiana TTA President.
At the Jan. 3-4 St. Joe Valley Open in South Bend, Holzrichter took the Men’s from fellow Chicagoan Wilson DuMez, Jr., after Wilson had survived a 5-game struggle with Bob Green. In the Women’s, Leah Thall was unchallenged by runner-up Helen Morozo who in the semi’s beat Mary Baumbach.
Baumbach might for this one last hometown tournament have been lured out of retirement to please her former coach John Varga. But this was it—she’d marry Dick Cornwall, a South Bend player and Notre Dame graduate, move to New Jersey, and would seem to have given up table tennis competition forever (though, as we’ll see, she’ll surface later).
Suddenly appearing on the scene, in a Feb. 8 Cincinnati tournament—the Jewish Center Midwest Closed—which I’m sure only Leah could have reported to Topics, was Leah’s younger, tennis-playing sister, 17-year-old Thelma Jane ("Tybie") Thall. She was a straight-A student and "the first girl in the history of [Columbus, Ohio’s] East High to win a varsity letter in the sport" (TTT, Dec., 1946, 4). But, giving up the larger racquet for the smaller one, and, though beaten by Leah 10, 12, in the Women’s final here, she, too, in time, being, like her sister, a determined practice partner and fierce opponent, would be destined for greatness.
There were some exciting matches in the Jan. 24-25 Michigan Closed at Pontiac. Chuck Burns, down 2-1, rallied to beat Nash in the Men’s. But Garrett paired with Chuck, and also with his wife Marie, to win both Doubles—the Men’s over Hersh and Webb, 19 in the 5th, and the Mixed over Gar Gomon/Margaret Koolery Wilson. Marge, up 2-0, held on against Marie, to take the Women’s in 5. The Dec. issue of Topics mentioned that Koolery had been "wearing a glittering ring" (12), given her by John Twigg, Secretary/Treasurer of the Michigan TTA, but that no date for the wedding had been set. Understandably so—for, as one can see from these Closed-to-outsiders results, Marge Koolery by January was Marge Wilson.
The Jan. 31-Feb. 1 Central Western States at Des Moines was won by Ed Sirmai over Joe Camero. In the Women’s, Helen Baldwin again got the better of Virginia Merica, who later in the March Colorado Open would be beaten by Wyoming-born, Kansas State Teachers College at Emporia graduate Mrs. Dorothy Benson.
Baldwin, who’d never had any coaching, would accumulate just this season alone 24 trophies, bringing her total to—count ‘em...(there in her trophy case, on her mantle, and among the books still remaining on her shelves)...65 in all. Of course, when she deigned to play in even such a "soft" tournament as the March Iowa Closed, in which her final opponent at Waterloo scored 21 points—that’s a 3-game total—Helen couldn’t help but succeed Sally Green as Wilkinson Cup winner.
I must say, though, I wonder what Miss Baldwin thought come the end of next season when she read about Pvt. George Lyman’s suggestion in Topics...
"...that the members of the USTTA start a metal drive, giving their trophies collected over the years, to be turned into bullets to fight the Axis. He further suggested that photographs could be taken of the prized possessions. The photo would take up less room and will collect less dust and at the same time a great contribution toward the all out war effort would be made" (May, 1943, 16).
Price, Tiny Moss Win Western’s
Coming to the Feb. 14-15 Western’s was a 17-player contingent from Colorado—the women led by State Women’s Champ Lois Woodward and Denver City Women’s titleholder Mary McCall; the men by State and recent Denver City Men’s Champion Bob Best. Perhaps these out-of-state participants might want to do some sightseeing while they were in the Omaha area? There was the Union Pacific Railroad Museum to see, the $15,000,000 bomber assembly plant at nearby Fort Cook, and of course Father Flanagan’s Boys Town. I wonder: did Mickey Rooney ever come off a set and pay a visit there? Give a ping-pong exhibition for the 200 boys on one of those three (slightly chipped?) tables in the Rec Hall?* It might have been brash fun for everyone.
Topics was certainly upbeat about this Western’s, held at the spacious Omaha City Auditorium. The magazine gushed that "every match was played to a large audience and more than five hundred persons previously unfamiliar with the game witnessed the thrilling finals, becoming ardent enthusiasts" (Apr., 1942, 9). In the Men’s final, Bill Price prevailed in 5 over Holzrichter and won the Doubles with Allan Levy. Tiny Moss beat Baldwin in 5—but Helen took solace in winning the Women’s Doubles with Virginia Merica, the Mixed with Holzrichter.
More Winter Tournaments
At the Cedar Rapids Iowa Open the next weekend, Baldwin avenged her loss, mounted up points as Moss, unable to find any ongoing foothold, teetered and tumbled in one of their usual unpredictable finals. Actually, Tiny herself had been on very shaky footing in the semi’s, was barely able to 23-21-in-the-5th balance herself by Peoria’s Marge Leary.
Also on Feb. 21-22, the first St. Louis County Closed, held in the suburb of Kirkwood, was sponsored by Seascout Ships, including Tournament Chair Elmer "Skipper" Cinnater’s own "Fairfax." In the Men’s, Price outsteadied Levy, who’d gotten to the final with a 19 in the 4th/19 in the 5th win over Laszlo "Laci" Bellak, furloughed for the occasion. Mrs. Delores Kuenz was the acknowledged Women’s winner before she even stepped to the table with Mrs. Virgina Dueker.
If you were looking over the St. Louis audience for the once familiar face of Buddy Blattner, eventual USTTA and Missouri Sports Hall of Famer, you weren’t apt to see him. After losing to Price’s steady floating defense in a local tournament two years ago, the ex-World Doubles Champion, who’d been encouraged to enter his first tournament by Cinnater, wasn’t dreaming any more dreams about table tennis. He’d already positioned himself with the Cardinals’ organization as an infielder for the Columbus, Ohio team in the American Association and so was on his way to making a living as a professional baseball player.** Of course he would also soon be on his way to a 3 and 1/2-year hitch in the Navy (during which he’d give "both table tennis and tennis exhibitions all through the Marianas and Honolulu with Bobby Riggs").
At the Feb. 28-Mar. 1 Illinois Open, held in Chicago’s International Ampitheatre, Holzrichter defeated Bill Ablin, after Ablin had gone 5 with Gordon Muchow in the semi’s. Making a surprise appearance was Don MacCrossen, the erstwhile "Wild Wampus." That Don had not been whomping the ball was obvious, for he scored only 32 points—total—from Holzrichter. Another surprise was the entry in the Women’s of a Mrs. Mentzer, unknown to me, who played a taut 19, 26, -18, -18, -19 match with this season’s U.S. #11 LaVera Weber, runner-up to the ubiquitous Baldwin.
The March 14-15 Chicago North-Town War Relief tournament raised almost $100 for the American Red Cross. Many thanks were due Herb Aronson’s brother, Norm, owner of the North-Town Club, for his help. Holzrichter won the Singles—over Gus Rehberger in the semi’s and Bill Ablin in the final.
Pagliaro/Magda Hazi Win Eastern’s
March 14-15 was also the date of the delayed Eastern Championships which, if Hazi hadn’t moved to Washington, might not have been held. Eastern affiliates hadn’t been much interested in running tournaments the first half of the season. A month before the Eastern’s were played at Hazi’s Courts, word came that Eduardo Yap had died. Before moving to Washington in 1935 Yap lived in Chicago, had run a club there, and in 1932 had edited a local newsletter called "Table Tennis." USTTA Treasurer Morris Bassford, who, along with Tournament Chair English, Referee Foster, and Washington TTA President Dancy, would be helping Hazi with his Eastern’s operations, said he’d accept donations for a Memorial Trophy in Yap’s name.
Opening play didn’t start until Saturday evening in order "that Defense Workers might have an opportunity to attend." Attend? I presume that meant play. Pagliaro had worked for the Brunswick Balke Collander Company as an order clerk helping bowlers get the right size and weight ball. (Always an avid bowler himself, even in his 80’s he could still roll a 200+ game.) Now he was involved in Defense work, putting together shipbuilding parts. Of course since he’d been winning Feb. Friday night tournaments at Lawrence’s, he scarcely needed a warm-up and so no problem with him advancing.
But Miles’s early-round loss in the Men’s was a big disappointment, for it suggested that, though Dick’s rise had been mercurial, he’d not yet arrived. He was upset by Baltimore’s agile heavyweight, Gordon Barry, who never tired of pummeling cross-court forehands at Dick. Barry then went on to make the semi’s by 19-in-the-4th eliminating Brooklyn’s unseeded Sid Cohen.
In another quarter’s match, Les Lowry got off to a combative -20, 17, -4, -16 beginning but then faltered against Pinner. By far the best Men’s match of the tournament was Hazi’s 21, -19, 19, -14, 14 semi’s win over Eddie. Though Hazi couldn’t contest the final with Pagliaro, he did pair with Pinner for a straight-game Doubles win over Paggy and Miles. In the Mixed, the Defending Champion Hazis, up 2-1, lost their title to Lowry/Clouther.
The Women’s final was very climactic—couldn’t have been more so—for Hazi beat Mae Clouther, 26-24 in the 5th. This match would be Magda’s last in a major; she would end her long career on a winning note. But no matter she was no longer competitive on court—she was what her husband wanted in a wife: "the cosmopolitan woman who knows how to maintain her poise both in the home and out in the world" (T/MHS, 58). Tibor himself became an accountant for the Charles H. Tompkins Co., builders, and continued managing his Columbia Courts at night.***
Although Cy Sussman didn’t enter the Eastern’s, he did play two weeks later at the Mar. 28 Connecticut Open in Greenwich. This for him was a necessary tournament tune-up (along with maybe listening to Woody Herman records) for the fast-approaching Detroit National’s—and he did o.k., reached the semi’s before losing to Pagliaro. Miles, meanwhile, as at the Manhattan Championships, was Pinner’s undoing. But then, for Dick, Paggy continued to be invincible. However, in the Doubles, Miles teamed with Abe Berenbaum—who, as we’ve seen, keeps revisiting the tournament scene—and the two of them chopped down Pinner/Sussman. In the Women’s, Edna Scheinhart—the only N.Y. woman who’d go to Detroit—was again unbeaten by either Davida Hawthorn or Manhattan’s promising George Washington High School teenager Bernice Charney.
Up in Somerville, Massachusetts at the Apr. 4-5 New England Open, the Detroit-bound players had to have had one eye on the ball and another on a train timetable. Both the favorites were upset—Shahian beat Clouther in 5, and Dwelly, after knocking out Tony Fionte downed Lowry in 4. However, Mae and Les did win the Mixed—over Dwelly and Stapleton.
Pagliaro/Green Make it Three in a Row at the National’s
Play at the Apr. 10-12 National’s was in the General Motors Building Auditorium. Since Detroit—with its "Chrysler Tank Arsenal....new huge Ford bomber plant...[and] Hudson Naval Arsenal"—was being called the "Arsenal of Democracy" (TTT, Mar., 1942, 3), could any player anywhere have felt more patriotic, more proud to be an American than he who went to the courts here? And just to let you know that the Tournament Committee under Chairman George Abbott, a well-known Detroit attorney, meant steely-eyed business, Topics would issue a warning:
"...Every organization like ours [USTTA] has a few members who cannot or will not conduct themselves in ways befitting ladies and gentlemen, but try (and usually succeed) in making fools of themselves. It is in the hope that some of these individuals will be spared such ignominy that this editorial is written.
Each of us should realize that our hosts are making every effort to give us a good time, both at the tournament and in our free hours. We should respect the hospitality that is afforded us and do everything we can to cooperate with our hosts and lighten their burden. The fellow who complains bitterly about having to wait for his match and the girl who cannot understand why she is defaulted after showing up an hour late for her match have no place at our Nationals. Neither have the rowdies who believe it is funny to keep other hotel guests up all night by creating as much noise as they can in the hallways during the wee small hours, or believe it is smart to duck out without paying their hotel bill...." (Mar., 1942, 2).
At least until the USTTA Executive Committee’s high-noon-Sunday Open Meeting at Detroit where the question of whether Negroes should be allowed to play in sanctioned tournaments was brought to the floor. (Was there a black player in Detroit? The three Chicagoans who’d been questioned last year weren’t. Apparently a local tournament in Detroit might be different from a National tournament in Detroit.) Such discrimination drew Miles’s astonishment and fellow New Yorker Freddie Borges’s outrage, expressed in his public outcry of "Who’s the Fascist bastard that thought that up?"
There were 90 entries in the Men’s with play beginning Friday evening at 7 o’clock and, as no morning matches were scheduled, running to midnight. Absent were Sol Schiff, out on Tour; Bernie Grimes, who’d be leaving competitive play to eventually die young (perhaps—after all the cigarettes he’d lit up, of lung cancer?); and George Hendry who, after traveling about with Cokey Clark and returning to Culver-Stockton, would soon go into Service, be stationed in the Philippines, and never take racket in hand again until discharged.
Early round matches had to have kept the spectators entertained. St. Paul’s Ed Litman, losing games by the intimidating scores of 6 and 11, nevertheless managed to stop John Varga, 23-21 in the 5th. Izzy Bellis, now back playing out of Philadelphia, 19-in-the-5th barely contained all the artist’s passion in Gus Rehberger, two of whose murals would hang this summer in Chicago’s Union Station. Chuck Burns, surprisingly, went 5 with 5-game Preliminary winner, Joseph Elliff of Toledo. Cleveland’s Sam Shannon, soon to be the Ohio TTA President, was extended into the 5th with Detroit’s Glenn Whitcroft. And Johnny Somael had to go 5 with Minnesota Closed Champ Harry Lund, who’d then win the Consolation prize from Cincy’s James Ratliff.
Also quite watchable according to a local reporter were V. Lee Webb’s 19-in-the-4th "capers" against Chicago’s Dan Cory who later, up 2-0, would lose the finals of the Boys, 19 in the 5th, to St. Louis’s Mel Nichols. The most uncertain of the 16th’s matches were McClure over Chicago’s Dick Morgan, Miles over Shannon, and Somael over Webb, all in 5. And yet in the eighth’s Somael was leading the Defending Champion Pagliaro, 18-17 in the 5th...when, as John Kauderer told J.P. Allen of the N.Y. Sun, Johnny became "self-conscious," his heretofore "sure hitting" failed him, and he "hit into the net and off the table," letting Louie escape. Nevertheless, in just this one season, Johnny had moved from #40 in the USTTA Rankings to #13.
In another tension-filled eighth’s, Bellis, after losing the 2nd game at deuce to go down 2-0 to Price, rallied and ended up winning deuce in the 5th. For Bill’s psyche this was a wound, but not a fatal one—he’d move on. As he later told Tennis World reporter Axel Kaufmann, he and Coleman Clark had been featured at Earl Carroll’s Restaurant in Los Angeles for a while, and, since he’d liked California so much, he decided to go back there. He "became acquainted with a tennis crowd," and, though, before, he’d "never even thought seriously about enjoying tennis," made a move that would change his life—he joined the Los Angeles Tennis Club.
Other matches in this eighth’s round were not so spectacular. Miles, on dropping the 1st game, had no trouble thereafter with furloughed Corporal Bellak. By this time Dick knew how to play him, but woe to those who met even an aging Laci for the first time. Invariably it was a unique not to say baffling experience. "You never knew where the ball was going," Dick said—"in part because he really enjoyed clowning with you. On or off the court he had a great sense of humor." Laci would affectionately tease Dick, playing on the fact that he was still a Junior. "Drinnnk, your meeelk, Dickie," he would say.
Lowry had no difficulty with Hersh, though in the 16th’s Max had withstood -22, 21, 17, 18 pressure from Dwelly who just several days earlier in New England had beaten Les. McClure over Sussman, Burns over Hazi, Pinner over Nash, Holzrichter over Jimmy Jacobson—these matches never seemed in doubt. Jacobson, who, before meeting Billy, had enough left of his once celebrated game to get by Rochester’s Ted Mosher deuce in the 4th, was about to call it quits—eventually to become owner of the very successful "Pocket Books, Inc." But, wanting to go out with a bang, he gave himself a going away present in the form of "Little Dynamite"—National Champion Lou Pagliaro—as a Doubles partner, and, as we’ll see, they had some explosive moments.
In the quarter’s, Lowry had an easy time with Miles; while Burns faced some 19, 20, 19 ever-threatening, but only threatening resistance from McClure. However, Bellis forced Paggy into the 5th; and Pinner rallied to down Holzrichter in 5—a very good result, for Billy would lay claim to winning 19 of the last 21 tournaments he’d entered and so will be ranked U.S. #2 for the year.
But in the semi’s, Eddie, on losing that 2nd game 27-25, succumbed 3-0 to last season’s U.S. #20 Burns and his backhand-favoring, up-close table game. Paggy also took out Lowry in straight games. And then, though Chuck had beaten him in the Intercities, Louie zipped Burns in the final too. Chuck told me that Paggy had given him some sort of "hook forehand" that he’d never seen before and that it was very effective. After this third successive win, the Champion unexpectedly announced his retirement. But could you believe him? Especially when those photos of him (and his unseen partner, Davida Hawthorn) in Life were giving him more recognition than ever.
Pinner and Sussman (who’d not looked so good in losing in Greenwich to Berenbaum and Miles) successfully defended their Men’s Doubles title—the teenagers’ toughest competition being a 5-game semi’s in which they led 2-0 against McClure and Bellak. Runner-ups were Pagliaro and—a surprise to me—Jacobson who’d not played enough this season to get a Ranking. They won a 5-gamer from Price/Levy in the quarter’s, then came through with two big deuce-games against Hazi/Lowry in the semi’s, and -7, -19, 19, -13 at least contested the final. Sixty years later, Paggy would tell me, "I could have been a good doubles player—I could run everywhere."
In the Veterans’ (35 and Over), which saw long-absent, pioneer N.Y. player Chet Wells entered, Marlin Tucker, on 23-21-in-the-5th avoiding elimination in the quarter’s by fellow Chicagoan George Ochs, went on to take the title—over 1940 Champ Bill Gunn.
I counted 40 players in the Women’s—but how many matches could most of them play? Perhaps the Tournament Committee felt guilty about not having a Women’s Consolation—they charged the Men a $5 entry fee, the Women only $3. Maybe with the lower fee they meant to encourage the Women not so much to play but to attend, mix.
To reach the quarter’s, two East players defeated two West players: Edna Sheinhart, up 2-0, just got by U.S. # 11 LaVera Weber, deuce in the 5th; and Carolyn Wilson, who’d jump in the Rankings this season from U.S. #22 to U.S. # 8, rallied to beat Leah Thall, 16, -18, 20, -18, 13. Wilson then lost a tough 5-gamer to "Pete" May. Clouther reached the final with shutout victories over Sheinhart and May. Sally Green, meanwhile, really had to keep her fingers crossed, for, had she been unlucky—nets and edges do happen at awkward times—her 17, 20, -17, 23 win in the quarter’s over Tiny Moss might well have been a loss. Thereafter, in straight-game taking out Baldwin, then Clouther, she matched Pagliaro in winning a third successive Singles Championship.
In Women’s Doubles, Green/Thall, after being -18, 20, 13, 19 tested by Moss/Janowiec, advanced to the final. But they couldn’t take the title—were 19, 21, 20 repeatedly thwarted by Clouther and her partner Shahian, unranked last season, Top 10 this one.
The Mixed holders—Bellak and Monness—couldn’t defend. Reba was sick—had missed defending her Metro title too. Holzrichter/Thall, down 2-0, came back to win the Championship, deuce in the 5th, over Lowry/Clouther.
Late April would find 24-year-old Schiff and his New York partner Cal Skinner (#12 in this season’s Metro TTA rankings) giving Exhibitions while traveling with one of the four units of the Camel Caravan Tour. This Tour offered free entertainment for servicemen at Army camps, Naval stations, and Marine bases (admittance only to men in uniform). At Camp Pendelton, Virginia, for example, according to the Apr. 25, 1942 G.I. Gazette, while pretty young women passed out free smokes and Sol and Cal did their thing "to constant applause," and a singer and a girl magician entertained as well, "the hit of the evening was a young chap named Herb Schriner, the master-of-ceremonies. His barrage of witty remarks, made funnier by his Hoosier drawl, kept the soldiers laughing throughout the review." Sol tells me that it was he who gave the harmonica-playing/quipster his first break, bringing him in as a substitute commentator for his Exhibitions when Pinky Tomlin got sick.
Sometimes the Camel troupe gave stage shows for the general public. One was at the Erie, Pennsylvania’s Columbia Theater—to benefit the Erie Times and its "Keep ‘Em Smoking Fund." The idea behind "the grand show" for this "worthy cause" was to send out as many cigarettes as possible to Erie’s men in the Service.
Quickly now the Sport would lose a number of its top players. Miles was still too young to be drafted—besides, he’d have a heart murmur that would keep him out of the Service. But McClure joined the Navy in May, and some other top players serving, or about to serve, were Anderson, Holzrichter, Lowry, Nash, Somael, Irving "Whitey" Sheraga, Ralph Muchow, Minnesota’s Ed Sirmai, Oregon’s Don Vaughan, N. J.’s Bill Cross, Chicago’s Wilson DuMez who was in Flight Preparatory School, Massachusetts’ Frank Dwelly, Indiana’s Jimmy Shrout who’d become a bomber pilot, Wisconsin’s best, Duane Maule, Toledo’s W.A.A.C. Gladys "Pete" May, and, forget about Doubles Championships for a while, Sussman, and his pal Pinner who, in the winter of 1942-43, would be an aviation cadet listening to Glenn Miller records while stationed at Atlantic City, and of course unaware as yet of what awaited him in the Pacific.
*There’s a write-up of a Boys Town tournament, with a photo of not Spencer Tracy but Father Flannagan, in TTT, March, 1940, 7.
** By 1942, Blattner had moved on to Sacramento, where he "batted in 95 runs for an average of .295, stole 25 bases, and smashed out 17 homers." Then he’d signed with Branch Rickey as a rookie second baseman for the Cardinals. After that, he was with the Giants and the Phils. When Buddy’s playing days were over—they’d started back at Beaumont High where he’d played not only baseball but basketball and tennis—he teamed with Dizzy Dean to broadcast the St. Louis Browns’ games and institute the TV "Game of the Week." In 1953, when the Browns left St. Louis, he moved to basketball, became the voice of the St. Louis Hawks. Then he was hired by Gene Autry to be a sportscaster for the Angels, and nine years later went to the Kansas City Royals. For this and other background on Blattner, read: TTT, Mar., 1942, 12; TTT, Oct., 1946, 3; 14 (articles by Editor Mel Evans, Jr. and Blattner, in which Bud extols all the virtues—physical, mental, and social—of playing table tennis); TTT, Oct., 1963, 14; and USA Today, Aug. 3, 1996. After being welcomed into the USTTA Hall of Fame in 1979, Blattner was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 1980.
***See the rather lengthy Rod Thomas Profile article on Tibor in the Mar. 26, 1954 Washington, D.C. Evening Star (T/MHS, 100).
USA Table Tennis - Serving the Table Tennis Community