Joe "Red" Murray
The Olympic Club
Inducted as a Player in 1983
From: 'The Handball Book', National Champion 1923.
One of handball's best-ever exhibitions of courage and staying power was that put on by Joe "Red" Murray who fisted every ball he hit, against Mayard Laswell for the 1923 National Singles Title at the St. Paul Athletic Club. Murray representing the San Francisco Olympic Club won his first two matches easily, and then blasted defending national champion Art Schinnen 21-1, 21-8. He followed with a win over Al Hobelman, junior national champion, then eliminated another ex-champion, Carl Haedge.
The finals pitted Murray against Mayard Laswell, destined to be a three time national champion. Murray recalls the match. "I will never forget the exciting and tense situation between two Californians for the national title. Laswell won the first game 21-8, with a beautiful exhibition of kill shots and perfect placements. I just did not get going. The next game was a fight to the finish.
"The score was 20-20 for five consecutive hands. He would not give ground, neither would I. One mistake would finish me. Laswell on the other hand, could still boot one and recover in the third game. I had two ace cards to play. When Laswell served, I laid a left hand kill from the back wall to put his hand out. Then when I served, I laid another kill to win the game. I won the next game 21-6, and the title. Mayard Laswell was strong, crafty and one of the best in the business. He was a great handball player, and, as the record shows, he won the title for three straight years. "Joe Murray remained active at The Olympic Club and played for many years although he never won another title.