The Olympic Club
Inducted as a Player in 2011
by Jay Capell
Al Chaparro was a product of Olympic Club handball during the 1960's and beyond. As an Olympic Club Juvenile, you were subjected to all sports such as running, basketball, boxing, swimming, handball, etc. Luckily, like his two brothers, Lou and Henry, he gravitated towards handball, and a Hall of Fame career began. Recruited and coached by the legendary and Hall of Fame player and contributor Mike De La Pena, he learned the game at the early age of 9, and perfected his craft for the next 30 years.
Al was part of a great "class of youngsters" during the Olympic Clubs heyday. Names that included Lou and Henry Chaparro, Bob Brady Jr, Mike Singer, Pete Cholichidas, Billy Keays, and many others that learned and competed against one another and stiff outside competition. The best matches and tutelage were right at home on Post Street. With many great champions on the Olympic Club courts on a daily basis, playing and watching were great teachers.
Al won all the Junior Singles tournaments at the Club, State Championships, numerous singles and doubles tournaments locally, the Masters Nationals, and countless other outside events. Most importantly, he won these titles with a variety of partners, that included brothers Lou and Henry, John Parent of the South End, Gary Beaver of Golden Gate Park and several others. All of them had one thing in common: Al Chaparro.
Winning the State Championship was his first major title. In the semi finals he, along with John Parent beat defending champions and Hall of Famer Harry Packer and his partner. In the finals they beat Mike Kelly and Mike Dunne for the title in a three game battle.
His greatest title was the National Master Doubles at the Olympic Club in 1986 with Gary Beaver. It was a great finals match against Southern California Hall of Famers Danny Carrillo and Lou Marquez. It was a marathon that ended with an 11-10 victory for Al and Gary. Cheered on by a packed gallery of family and friends, it was the best match of the tournament.
His style of play was reminiscent of a three waller. His fly kills were a great asset for his 4 wall game. He had great speed and could kill or play defense with the best of them. Possessing a strong right, he could put the ball down from a variety of contact heights, making it impossible to anticipate what he was going to do. A kill-shot or devastating pass, all from the same motion, fooled many of us. Power was not his game, but there were more then 52 cards in his shot selection deck, and he used them all. It was an ordeal to play against him. Brother Geoff and I had numerous singles and doubles matches against Al, and if you escaped with a win, you knew you had beaten one of the best.
Mike De La Pena, his coach, would truly be proud of his game, his development as a person, and his selection into the Northern California Hall of Fame! Congratulations Al! This is a great day for you and the entire Chaparro family, and I'm sure brother Lou is smiling down on all of you.