Note: In 1984, after an unforgettable season playing #1 on the St. George Men’s E Squash Team, I was asked to write an article about the team for the Year Book, Metropolitan Squash Racquets Association, 1984–1985. Writing on the Xerox 6200 Memorywriter at Windsor Total Video, I had the time of my life telling the tale, giggling uncontrollably as I went. I guess the wonderful memories and the high technology brought out the best in me! Bob Lehman, the editor of the Year Book, was so taken with my article that he called attention to it on p. 14, in “Lets, Nicks, Aces and Errors”: “There is a team story relating to the winners of the Men’s Class E League [we were actually runners-up] written with joy and pride. Look it up in the Tournament Index on the last page, and read it. You’ll like it.” Herewith, my article.

 

THE WINTER LEAGUE SEASON

Men’s E

(Editor’s note: See Lets, Nicks, Aces & Errors for comment on this story.)

They came from Brooklyn, Brooklyn Heights, actually—a band of men so polished, so painfully urbane that many of Manhattan’s finest teams actually declined to play them. They were the St. George Health & Racquet Club Men’s E Squash Team, and even now, over half a year later, they are spoken of with fear from Park Place to Uptown.

And why not? There was always about them something of the unexpected. From a club that had never before fielded a team, a club that lay by the river like a sleeping giant, came a team of brash, colorful men undaunted by the city’s more famous warriors. Let us meet these men; let us talk in hushed and reverential tones.

First, and always foremost, was No. 1, Eric Miller. This was a preppie, a man of breeding, a man who knew how to hold a fork. A star at school, he had sojourned long in California, where squash courts are few, and had suffered a ten-year absence from the game. No matter. Beginning again in 1979, he had only one dream—to be an E player. And he worked to hone his style and his intelligence—for to Miller, squash was a game of chess, and he was its Grandmaster.

Second came their Captain, Gerry Coleman. Also a man of refinement, Coleman’s tale is equally noble. Unlike the experienced Miller, Coleman had—unbelievably—never played the game before 1983. But he brought to squash a tennis player’s keen timing and pungent half-volleys. And he threw himself so passionately into the game in all its aspects—playing, organizing, wearing the best clothes—that his teammates, with one voice, elected him Captain.

Third was a quiet man, a relaxed man—Renny Snyder. A prominent attorney, Snyder inspired by example. Behind the taciturn exterior lay wit; behind the wire-rimmed glasses lay cunning. And yet Snyder was a man of peace.

We come now to Dave Feingold, No. 4. Here was a style so individual, so unique, it beggars description. Feingold served unlike any other—the ball seemed to come from nowhere, and yet everywhere. His opponents were reduced to cinderblocks.

Finally, there was Gary Pepper. A medical man, an eminent endocrinologist, Pepper had long studied the glands of his opponents. And with this knowledge, and with his wiry speed, he conquered.

Joined frequently by the noted physicist, Dr. Andrew Zangwill, the team went forth to await their first opponents, the Lincoln Squash Club, who never came. Lincoln was the first of several teams to forfeit in fear. Yet on November 1, Fifth Avenue actually arrived in the Heights, only to lose, 4–1. Two weeks later, Park Avenue crossed the river and handed the St. George team its first loss, 4–1—a harbinger of treachery to come.

In late November our heroes invaded Manhattan for the first time, narrowly defeating Uptown, 3–2, in a hard-fought match. On December 6 they edged the Doral Inn crew 3–2. Stopping briefly before Christmas to pick up another default from Lincoln, the St. George boys rang in the new year with a 4–1 loss to a strong Fifth Avenue squad and, after an appropriate drinking bout, slunk home in a blizzard.

On January 24 the team arrived at Park Avenue only to find their hosts gone, and picked up another default. The next week they defeated Uptown by default without leaving Brooklyn. Finally, to end the regular season, St. George released pent-up energy by crushing Doral at home, 5–0.

And on March 8, on a night lashed by snow and swirled about by intrigue, the St. George boys met Park Avenue in a climactic playoff. Joined on this occasion by the celebrated futurist Timothy J. Lord, the team fought valiantly but lost, 4–1.

Today a plaque hangs at the St. George; the names of these brave men glow softly in the lamplight. They drink from thick mugs with the name of their team inscribed. They are D players now, these men; but as the greatest of E’s they will long be remembered.

Page updated February 17, 1999.

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