Thursday, June 11, 2009

Happy Anniversary Davey Bledsoe!

On June 11, 1977, you shocked the racquetball world and particularly Marty Hogan by defeating him in the final of the 1977 Leach/Seamco National Championship in San Diego, by scores of 21-20, and 21-19. It's widely recognized as one of the most unexpected results in racquetball history.

It was so unexpected, because Hogan had won 9 of the 11 events that season, losing only once (in the first tournament of the season), and passing on the last event just prior to Nationals, which you won. Racquetball Handball News (RHN) picked Hogan to win the Nationals. Jerry Hilecher said "Bledsoe can't change his game style enough to play against Hogan's unorthodox game." (p. 7, RHN, May 1977).

But why take Hilecher's word for it when Hogan stated "I will win the Nationals! You know why? I'm extremely smart. I'm the best server in the game; I'm the best power player in the game. Nobody has yet to match my game. I hit the ball 60 percent harder than the next hardest-hitting player. I know I'm going to win because, this season, nobody's been near to touching me. Nobody's come close to me.... I'm going to win!" (p. 9, RHN, May 1977, italics in original).

For your part, you were very low key about the event, approaching it as just another tournament, and not overtraining. But you must have had some confidence facing Hogan, as following your loss to Hogan at the Ft Lauderdale, Florida event earlier that season you said "I think I will beat Hogan next time as I have learned how to play effectively against his unorthodox style of play." (p. 1, RHN, Jan. 1977).

And 32 years ago today, as Bill Stevens put it, "Davey Bledsoe came out of nowhere to instantly become the very best player in racquetball" helping to make "the 1977 National Championship ... the most spectacular event ever staged." (p. 7, RHN, June 1977).

Leach/Seamco National Championship, San Diego, June 4-11, 1977
Davey Bledsoe d. Marty Hogan, 21-20, 21-19

Davey Bledsoe d. Jerry Hilecher, 21-17, 12-21, 11-6
Marty Hogan d. Richard Wagner, 21-12, 21-10

Marty Hogan d. Steve Strandemo, 21-7, 21-11
Richard Wagner d. Craig McCoy, 21-18, 18-21, 11-4
Jerry Hilecher d. Charlie Brumfield, 10-21, 21-19, 11-9
Davey Bledsoe d. Steve Keeley, 21-13, 21-7

Follow the bouncing ball....


The Racquetball Blog said...

Perhaps the kicker to this story is that Bledsoe's Nationals win was his second and last pro tour win, according the Boss Consulting IRT stats site. His other win was the Newport Beach tournament just before the '77 Nationals.

So, Bledsoe won two in a row, then never again. Astonishing.

The Racquetball Blog

Follow the bouncing ball....

Carole Chelsea George said...

Thanks for posting this. I used the scores from this historic match for my video of the same.
I quoted you as saying that Davey Bledsoe only won two pro stops in his racquetball career. He corrected me and said he won 15.

Carole Chelsea George said...

Thank you for posting this. I used the scores from this historic match on the caption to my video of the 1977 National Racquetball Championships.
I also quoted you as saying that Davey Bledsoe only won two pro stops in his racquetball career. He responded by saying he'd actually won 15 pro stops.

The Racquetball Blog said...

First, wow. What a great video, err, film that is. We're going to let people know about it for sure.

Second, we don't mean to contradict Mr Bledsoe, but our information comes from the IRT Archive (, which lists only 2 wins for him. The archive is missing some results, and racquetball has been poor at keeping its records, which is something The Racquetball Blog aims to correct. But it's difficult to imagine that 13 wins for Bledsoe has been overlooked, although it's possible.

Thanks for the note and for putting your film up on YouTube, so it can be seen by a wide audience. It's a great record of some of the great players from the late 70s.