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John Condon

South End Rowing Club
Inducted as a Contributor in 1983

Story by Martin Judnick 1957, condensed by Geoff Capell

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John Joseph Condon, by heritage, by close association for over 65 years as a spectator, player, and commissioner, and by unselfish devotion to the betterment of amateur handball is generally conceded by the Pacific Coast handball experts to be the leading authority and handball historian in the United States.  John was recently honored by being appointed as the first Pacific Coast vice president of the United States Handball Association, recently organized as a separate handball body under the auspices of the AAU.  John was born August 28, 1884, "South of the Slot," at 733 Howard Street, San Francisco.  His home was above his dad's saloon and lunch counter, which was operated in conjunction with and adjacent to one of his father's two handball courts, known as "Condon's Union Handball Court," located in the rear of the court.

 

Condon started playing handball (hardball style) when he was less than 10 years old.  He was Pacific Coast Handball singles Champion for about ten years from the time he joined The Olympic Club in 1905 to 1915.  He played Bill "Midge" Maguire for the World Singles Championship in connection with the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915 at The Olympic Club.  He was very reluctant to discuss the details of this crucial match, which called for four games out of seven to be won, to be played over two consecutive Sundays.  The first Sunday session ended in a draw with both players winning two games.  On the following Sunday, Maguire won two out of the three games played and the World championship.  Rules were not strictly observed in those days.

 

After losing the World's Championships, Condon's interest gradually dwindled until 1932 when he was appointed as handball commissioner for the South End Rowing Club.  John also served for twelve years as handball chairman of the Pacific Association for the AAU and vice chairman of the AAU for ten years.

 

In John's estimation Mike Eagan is rated as the greatest hardball player observed by him.  The next best player in the hardball version was Jack Jones of Australia.  In the present softball version, Condon considers Al Banuet of San Francisco the peer.