The First Racquetball National Final
Just before the final match at the 1st Open Racquetball Singles Championships in St. Louis at the Jewish Community Center, Charlie Brumfield (age 20) & Dr. Bud Mueleisen (age 37) posed for this photo. Brumfield was using the Joe Sobek ‘Wooden Clunker’ and Dr. Bud used the Dayton Steele Racket, which had been double strung with wire strings. Back then, the ball was so dead that a ceiling ball was impossible to execute. Hence the rallies were lengthy and the games were best of 3 to 21 points.
Each player stood about 6´even and carried multiple racquet accolades into the racquetball finals. Dr. Bud held championships in paddleball, badminton and tennis, while Brumfield won them in paddleball and outdoor pink ball handball. Mueleisen captured this final, but Brumfield, 17 years his junior, went on to dominate with three national singles titles through the ´70´s.
The St. Louis JCC court in this picture is a cornerstone in racquetball history, breeding ground for St. Louis power hitters Marty Hogan, Steve Serot, Jerry Hilecher, Jerry Zuckerman, Doug Cohn, Ben Colton and others who took over after Mule and Brum left the sport.
The particular court is of additional historical significance as it was converted into a storage closet and library after the racquetball boom played out in the 90´s. Look at all those racquet scuff marks and paint chips on the walls! Then in 2003 the Legends Pro Racquetball Tour paid to refurbish the court and held their season finale, the biggest event in their history. The players included most of the forenamed, only a step slower and longer in the tooth, making for sensational competition. And so racquetball came full circle to the St. Louis JCC court.