The Summer of 1965 - Pickleball’s Founding

You ever wonder what the story is with Pickleball? It’s a great story! 👇🏼       

Summer of 1965

Joel and Joan (pronounced “Jo-Ann”) Pritchard lived in Seattle and spent their summers at their home on Bainbridge Island, WA. In the summer of 1965, the Pritchards invited Bill and Tina Bell to stay with them at their Bainbridge compound. One day after golfing, Joel and Bill returned home to find Joel’s disgruntled 13-year-old son, Frank, in one of those moods.

Frank, recalls, “I was bitching to my dad that there was nothing to do on Bainbridge. His dad, Joel Pritchard, said that when they were kids, they’d make games up.” Frank bitterly responded to his dad, “Oh, really? Then why don’t you go make up a game?”

Well, Joel (age 40 at the time) loved a challenge, so he and Bill Bell took off to the backyard badminton court where the 44 x 20-ft. regulation court had been asphalted earlier by Joel’s parents. The steady Seattle rain necessitated the paving of their court.

Joel and Bill went to the back shed and grabbed a plastic perforated ball from a plastic bat and ball set that Frank had been given for his birthday earlier that year. They located a pair of table tennis paddles, set up the badminton net, grabbed the ball and played that first game.

Broken paddles became a problem, so the men fashioned some pretty scary-looking paddles in Joel’s father’s garage workshop. It was at this time that the game started to take form. Frank recalls his dad saying, “You know who we need? We need Barney.”

Barney McCallum lived six doors down on the beach and was very handy. He was able to construct more reliable, better-looking paddles. He quickly became an integral part of the game’s equipment, rules and formation.

One day, during the summer of 1965, the Bells and Pritchards were sitting around and made the decision to come up with a name for the game. Joan stepped up and said, “Pickle Ball.” She then explained the reference to leftover rowers who would race for fun in local “pickle boat” crew race competitions.

The Pritchards have always claimed that only their houseguests (the Bells) were in attendance when the name was decided upon.

College Crew “Pickle Boats” Inspired the Game’s Name.


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