March 7, 2011

Table Tennis Chats

Sometime after the Cary Cup Championships (March 18-20), I'm going to ask in my blog and on the forum who would attend. Assuming there is enough interest, we'll have a test chat, and then I'll start scheduling guests - coaches and top players.

Ping-Pong and third baseman J.J. Hardy of the Baltimore Orioles

Yep, he's a table tennis player! Here's an excerpt from an online interview:

Q: What are some things you like to do when you're not playing ball?
J.J. I've got a lot of little hobbies. Fishing – now that we're out here in Florida for Spring Training, I fish pretty much every single day when we're done here.  In the off-season I spend a lot of time playing Ping Pong, try to keep my game up there.  Not as much golf anymore, I used to golf quite a bit.  Kind of shot that down, now more Ping Pong and fishing.

Q: How did you get to become a Ping Pong player?
J.J. My dad was a professional tennis player, and he still teaches for a living, and we grew up around it and I have a brother who is about 17 months older than I am, we played Ping Pong growing up and it was a sport that we kind of clicked at, and having someone as good as I was at it, and me as good as he was, kind of kept us getting better. I take a lot of pride in my Ping Pong.

Things from 1981 I'd forgotten about

As I've reported, I'm spending a couple weeks with Tim Boggan doing the page layouts and photo work on his History of U.S. Table Tennis, Vol. 11 (!). We're covering 1981 right now, which is right when I shot up as a player, starting with winning the North Carolina Open, going undefeated and winning the North Carolina Teams, and then pulling of a series of upsets at the U.S. Open. Here are some excerpts from Table Tennis Topics, now USATT Magazine:

North Carolina Teams

"Larry, in his contest with Billy James, gave 'reckless abandon' a new meaning. He hustled about like maybe Nittaku was going to stop making balls."

"None were able to withstand Larry's relentless cannon-like loops."


"Larry downed both Zvi Rathaus, who'd played for Israel in the '71 World's, and Canada's Alain Bourbonnais, who'd gotten to the semi's of the 2400's and would that fall make the Canadian National Team." (Note - I also upset Sean O'Neill, then rated 2303, the last time I'd ever beat him.)

Northern Virginia Top Twelve Invitational

"Would that or something so equally analyzable ('Keep the ball out of the middle third of the table') explain how Randy [Seemiller] beat Sean O'Neill yet lost to Larry Hodges? . . .  After his win over Randy he's gonna . . . offer his services as local, regional, national, or international coach—wherever he's wanted."

1981 USTTA Olympic Camp

"During free time crazy games were played—like the raw egg toss, or the watermelon seed-spitting contest. Special awards were given out—for example, for the tidiest room (won the first week by Larry Hodges who also shared the two weeks' Most Congenial award with Anh-Tai Nguyen)."


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