Monday, January 13, 2020

Happy 37th Birthday Jack Huczek!

We’ve wished you Happy Birthday before - twice, in fact. The first time, back in 2009, we said “in years to come, when people talk about the best players of all time, they will have to consider you in the discussion.” The second time in 2011, we said “we’re hoping that we’ll be celebrating [your] career … for some years to come.” Little did we know that there would only be a few months left before you retired.

Because it’s almost a decade since you played, we feel like you’ve been almost forgotten. However, what we’re thinking on your birthday is “why aren’t you in the Hall of Fame?”

You won 29 International Racquetball Tour (IRT) events (5th most) and was in 63 IRT finals total (6th most). Your the last teenager to win on tour, doing so in 2002, when he was 19. You were ranked in the top 5 for 10 consecutive seasons (2002-2011), including a year at #1 in 2007 and five years at #2.

You were also an outstanding player for the USA, representing it 10 times, winning 7 gold medals in Men’s Singles. You were the Men’s Singles World Champion at the International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Championships three times: 2002, 2004, 2006, as well as Pan American Games Champion in 2003 and World Games Champion in 2009.

You earned your spot on Team USA via the USA Racquetball (USAR) National Championships. You played in 11 National Singles Championships and won four times, and were a runner up five times and never failed to reach the semi-finals. You won six National Doubles Championships (with Rocky Carson as your partner), and were runner up once (with Eric Muller).

You retired in May 2011, and if there was a five year period prior to Hall of Fame induction, then you would have been in four years ago. But the USAR Hall of Fame nomination procedures state “Nominees must be forty years old as of May 1st of the year following their nomination” (nominations are to made the year prior to induction). You were just 28 when you retired in 2011, so you don’t meet the Hall’s age requirement.

However, the nomination procedures also state “Any age requirement, or waiting period, may be removed by approval of the Hall of Fame Committee and the USAR Board of Directors.” Without such approval, you won’t be eligible for induction until 2023. Way too late in The Racquetball Blog’s opinion.

There is some precedence for inducting people before the age of 40, as Cliff Swain was inducted in 2003, when he was 37, and Marty Hogan went in at 39. Conversely, Michelle Gould, who retired in 1999, didn’t get in until 2012, and - like you - she should have gone in sooner.

Last month Pro Racquetball Stats wrote a piece advocating for Jason Mannino to be in the USAR Hall of Fame. Mannino is clearly a Hall of Fame caliber player and did much off court to help the game through running numerous racquetball clinics and overseeing the International Racquetball Tour for several years. We'd be happy to see Mannino inducted into the USAR Hall of Fame.

But there’s someone who should be in the USAR Hall of Fame already, and that’s Jack Huczek.

Follow the bouncing ball…..

1 comment:

millhead said...

Couldn't agree more m- he should be in the HOF. Still love watching old video of Jack play Cliff, Jason and Sudsy in particular. They were WARS. Jack won many of them due to conditioning level. I contend that if a few of the current IRT players would take their cardio fitness as seriously as Jack did they'd have a better chance against the top 4 - including Kane.