History of the Game:
Handball has a long and glorious history in Northern California, dating back to the Great California Gold Rush. Among the many who came to Northern California in search of gold were the Irish, who brought the "Perfect Game" with them.
By 1851, an Irish saloon was operating in San Francisco and listed in the S.F. City Directory under the heading: "Ball Courts and Alleys". These classifications were commonly used to describe handball courts in Ireland and England. Handball courts, more commonly known as handball 'alleys' in Ireland, were often built adjacent to the pub and would utilize one of the pub walls as the front wall of the court. The pub was Thomas Cullen's Saloon and Shamrock Ball and Racket Court located at 543 Market Street; this may well be the oldest listed handball court in the United States, pre-dating Phil Casey's court on DeGraw Street in Brooklyn, New York by some 37 years.The Shamrock court is certainly the oldest known handball court in California, built at least 150 years ago.