Mixsonian Larry


Three wall handball courtThree wall handball court

In the summer of ’72, me and several of the guys started playing handball. The group included my roommate Bill, my brother David, the brothers John and Greg and occasionally others usually playing doubles.  I’m not sure who first suggested it, possibly I did as I was going to the University where the only courts were at the time.  The courts were all outdoor, three wall courts along University Avenue where the parking lot for the O’Connell Center now is.  There were about twenty courts, two rows of ten courts, with one side open to the University Avenue, with the other ten courts on the backside opening to the practice field.  Racquet ball didn’t exist at the time, but there were a few people that played what was known as paddle ball in which a wooden paddle was used.  With three wall courts, one side is open so that if you missed the ball, it would go off the court, losing a point. This made the field side courts preferred because on the University Avenue side courts, if you missed the ball, it could go out onto the busy street.  A few months after we had been playing, four new four wall courts were built at Westside Park where we then played. Four walls changed the game considerably, making it even more fun and not having to chase after the ball when missed. Well, most of the time. The four wall courts were open at the top, so the ball would occasional be hit out of the top of the court. I remember times when the four of us having to stop playing to search in the dark for a ball that had been hit out of the court.

Unlike racket sports that use only one hand, handball uses both hands which helps develop coordination in both arms instead of only one.  Handball is played with ball a bit bigger than a golf ball and is made of rather hard rubber so leather gloves worn on each hand to protect them..  Hitting the hard rubber ball is somewhat painful at first but after a few games the hands harden.  I remember the first time after playing my hands swelled up that I could hardly peel off the glove.  John once forgot to take off his ring and his finger swelled so much it begin to turn blue and had to put ice on it to get the swelling to go down. 

We had great fun playing.  We usually would play after dinner in the evening and often as late as nine or ten o’clock since the courts having lights. After playing the four of us would go to the 7-11 convenience store down the road and get something to drink.  When we first started playing, we would each get a quart bottle of Gatorade but later we would get wine or beer.  The drinking age at the time was 18, so the first wine and beer I ever bought was after the games of handball.  Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill wine or a large bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer was my drink of choice.

Updated: 12-14-2022

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