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How Pickleball got is name - or so they say

Published:   |   Updated: June 28, 2013 at 11:03 AM

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Some people dispute the story behind how Pickleball got its name and chalk it down to an urban legend.

But, the USA Pickleball Association recounts this origin which many believe is factual:

After playing golf one Saturday during the summer of 1965, Washington State Congressman Joel Pritchard and businessman Bill Bell, returned to Pritchard's home on Bainbridge Island, Wa., to find their families sitting around with nothing to do. The property had an old badminton court so Pritchard and Bell looked for some badminton equipment and could not find a full set of rackets.

They improvised, cutting shafts of the damaged rackets and found a perforated plastic ball. The rackets didn't work very well, so the dads created four wood paddles, similar to today's wood paddles.

At first they placed the net at badminton height of 60 inches and volleyed the ball over the net.

As the weekend progressed, the players found that the ball bounced well on the asphalt surface and soon the net was lowered to 36 inches.

The following weekend, Barney McCallum was introduced to the game at Pritchard's home.

Soon, the three men created rules, relying heavily on badminton. They kept in mind the original purpose, which was to provide a game the whole family could play together.

The Pritchards had a cocker spaniel named Pickles, who became interested in this new game. Whenever a ball would come his way, he would take the ball and run off with it, because, it is said, it was Pickle's ball.

And that, allegedly, is how the game got its name.

To learn more about the game, visit the USPA website at

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