Inducted as a Player in 2010
by Jim Tamagni
Dick David was born lefthanded in Santa Barbara, CA on Feb. 1, 1946. I don’t have a calculator on hand so you will have to do the math yourself. A navy brat, Dick ended up attending school at Alameda High near Oakland. It was here that Dick’s prowess in baseball landed him a scholarship to UC Santa Barbara. Excelling on the college scene, Dick was an all leaguer and eventually inducted in 1968 into UCSB baseball hall of fame. His career batting average of .391 stood among the top 10 highest averages for a UCSB player for over 40 years.
Upon graduation, Dick did a 3 year stint in the Navy aboard a nuclear submarine and, upon leaving the Navy, was drafted in the second round by the Baltimore Orioles. After a year in the minors playing for the Miami Orioles, he decided the money wasn’t going to be there and enrolled in the School of Optometry at Cal Berkeley from 1971-1975. Starting an optometry business in Palo Alto soon thereafter and living in Santa Cruz, Dick met John VanEvery where he was introduced to handball.
Being a competitive baseball player fit right in to the skills needed to play handball. His pinpoint shooting and then famous hooking serve made up the foundation of his game. None of this mirrored over to his right hand, though. Playing doubles early in his career honed his game and helped make up for endurance required to play singles. One of his early partners, Gary Pezzi, didn’t help a lot but they did get a big win over the Capell brothers prompting Dick to specialize in doubles. The first step was to get rid of Pezzi and pickup myself, Ron Cole and Mike Meltzer as his regular partners.
Meltzer and David won five age groups titles in 3 and 4 wall. Their biggest win by far was in the finals in Toledo in 40 doubles against George Miller and Jay Dillon. This team had never lost a game in their 3¬wall dominance in prior years but found themselves in a tiebreaker. Suddenly down 8-0 in that game, Dick found his serve and Meltzer his drop shot and they ran out to an 11-9 national championship win.
Ron Cole also played with Dick primarily in the YMCA National Championships. They managed to win two YMCA titles and were in the finals a number of times also.
Of course, it is hard to talk about Dick without talking about myself. During our open years Dick and I had to form our own brand of doubles to make up for the fact that we were both lefthanded and had a huge weakness on our right sides. After a lot of brainstorming we came up with an X formation that we thought could work. After our first tournament and a pounding by Vandenboss and Barnett we decided that was not going to work, so we devised our now famous I formation. Utilizing my speed , quick hands and lack of killshot with Dick's giant 2 way hooking server and backwall shooting, we minimized our weakness and maximized our strengths. The results were amazing. In 1986 we won every local tournament we played in including the regionals where we beat Christian and Connors in the finals to win the free ride to the nationals. Over this period we honed our minimal talents through the use of hand signals and refinements to the I formation. Dick’s powerful serve combined with my high underhand lob, aptly named the Mirage serve by Dick, had us moving and serving at different speeds and paces on every shot. It took players over a year to figure out we were both lefthanded and how to get the ball to the other side. Dick, deciding we needed a little more energy, came up with his bug juice concoction.
Basically, it was regular water mixed with juice. Little did Dick know that the last thing I needed was sugar in my system. My problem was slowing down not speeding up. All in all it turned out nicely for us. Our best finish in the 4-wall nationals was a quarter final appearance where we narrowly lost to Paraedes and Haynes 21-19, 21-20 on a disputed call and in our first 35 doubles nationals in Jacksonville, Fla. We won outright, beating Don Robinson, current ½ of the reigning Open Doubles National champions. Dick's serve was so elusive in our 11-1 tiebreaker win that they remarked afterward how great my serve was when Dick had served 11 straight points. They probably don’t know to this day that we were both left handed.
We proved that you could take a couple of average players, disguise our weakness, throw in a few trick plays, use some hand signals and drink bug juice and make doubles an art. We had wins over the likes of Christian, Connors, Kendler, the Dunnes, David Wyrsch, John Bike, Fred Munsch, the Chaparros, Lennart Delatore, Glen Carden, Larry Morefield, Fred Bancalari, Bowen, all the MacDonalds, Salo, Goffstein just to name a few. This is what the hall of fame is all about. Players improving, honing and excelling in the game they love until they are the best they can be. Dick, welcome to the hall of fame. You earned it literally.