More Look Back Articles by Earl Ball!! Do Enjoy.

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT SHOT IN SHUFFLEBOARD??
The Hammer. I hear ya! I hear ya!! But I wonder if you think it over if you won’t come to the conclusion that the lag is the most important, at least in Florida where the competition is so keen. How many times have we said if only we had won the lag! Need proof; in the Central District we changed our “Masters” format to two games against each opponent. One game on each color. In the “Pro” Men’s division if you take out one player and his corresponding sweeps you wind up with only five sweeps in 48 games. The Lady’s division is about the same. So the “Pro” completion is very close and color does matter. As you move to the State Am level, where ability varies quite a lot there are more sweeps and of course as you reach the District Am level, where the real “sandbaggers” reside there are even more sweeps. The one shot we don’t practice, may be the most important. Think I’ll practice it a bit! Earl Ball June 13, 2004.
********************************************************* WHAT ABOUT BLOCKS!
I guess we’ve all walked away from courts after a match saying those darn blocks were terrible. We almost never play a match where we don’t have at least one bad one in a set, either much slower or much faster than the others. Jim Allen tells me his dad told him if he could solve the “block” problem he would be looked upon as a saint! Those of us who have spent a great deal of time trying to get new blocks to run or deciding how to rework existing blocks would certainly agree! If you’ve tried to make new blocks run then you know why there are so many old blocks in play, the problem is that someone always comes along and decides to make two good sets out of three sets with some bad blocks in each. If you’ve reworked blocks then you know that blocks that are as little as ½ oz different than each other will run noticeably different distances. They all start out the same speed when you push them, but the lighter ones slow down faster. Some times they paint the yellow ones black, not realizing the yellow are softer and will wear faster than the black. Ever use chipped blocks. That chip will make the block drift differently depending on where it is when you shoot it. Have you ever seen Jac Bergeron pick the blocks up and mark on the block where the chips are on the bottom? Why do you suppose he does that! I remember talking with Jac about the following weeks tournament, which was at St Pete. He was telling me how much he was looking forward to that tournament. So I asked him why he liked St Pete so much considering they have the worse blocks of anywhere we play he just “smiled” and said “that’s why I like St Pete because all I have to do is pick out the bad blocks before my opponent and I will win”! Never thought of it that way! Earl Ball June, 2004.
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CAN YOU READ COURTS?

We have basically two types of courts in Florida, rough (sand finished) or smooth, and depending on how they are dressed they will be what we think is fast or slow! The rough courts, when played dry, are predictable and repeatable, generally faster in the center than down the outside and are what we call slow courts. Some can be very slow, so they sometimes are beaded with the larger, round beards which speeds them up, or they can be beaded with what we call “California beads” which are more like snow flakes and are very fast to start with and then slow down and become unpredictable. They remain very fast down the outside. Then we have smooth courts which can vary from about the speed of our slow courts to very fast depending on what is added to the beads. The predictable thing is that the beads will break down in the center of the court and slow down while the outside will remain fast, just the opposite of the rough courts without beads. We have no regulations, so each club does what fits their taste. We play State & District Tournaments on all of these types of surfaces and he who can adjust “wins”; everyone else goes home! Some courts are so crooked they become “fun”, like Hendersonville, North Carolina where you have to aim out into space to have a chance to hit another block. Some are like snakes with several breaks like Lakeland’s new courts, and can be very aggravating, Lakeland’s courts are being redone, but most places have a court or two like that. Very few are straight, I’ve never found one that was straight. In reading about the Internationals it’s seems I really have no Idea what “fast” means. The game out west must be very different than the game we play. Lary Faris tells me “my first shot would go completely off the court, no mater how careful I tried to be and Rocky Bridges wants me to come out and “play” so he can get even. Guess I’ll have to give him that opportunity sometime”. Glen Peltier says he never met a court he didn’t like. I wonder what he would say if he played one of those courts! I wonder if the roll out courts will ever catch on for tournament play, they work well for introducing the sport in other countries. Earl Ball June, 2004
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DO YOU CHART?

Do you “Chart”? NO ? Hope you have a good reason, because if you play on the Florida “Pro” tour the competition is very keen. One shot, a block or a few points decide most matches. I’ve always felt that “charting” would give me a chance to make the one extra shot needed to win and I’ve proved my point! I love it when other players say I don’t chart for whatever feeble reason they use, I know they’ve just given me the advantage. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are a few good reasons not to “chart”. Diana Morrison and Glen Peltier can’t see without their glasses and they don’t want to be bothered with digging them out all the time. Glen will chart if you get him in a corner, I remember at the end of last season, when he was in danger of missing the “Masters” for the first time in 18 years, he had the “charts” out and was trying his dandiest to gain an advantage; he made the “Masters”. A few years ago he wanted, in the worst way, to beat Mel Erb and I for a chance at the Florida State Doubles, guess what, out came the “charts”. Joan Cook is by far the most detailed and best “charter” I’ve seen, but anything from a few simple lines showing the drift to detail in inches will give you an advantage. IF you look at the chart before you shoot. We all think we know only to shoot, miss our shot and then to look at the chart and sure enough we have it marked correctly but we didn’t look!
Earl Ball June 08th, 2004
*************************************************Harriet Smith passed away this morning, June 04th, at 01:53 a.m. Harriet had earned the respected title of “First Lady of Shuffling” and indeed she personified the title!! Harriet gave freely of her time and money in the support of Shuffling, the game she loved so much. She instictively knew when her support was required and offered even before the request was made. Each of us who knew her will miss her in our own way. All of us extend to her family our sincere condolences on the passing of this “First Lady of Shuffling”. Her funeral will be held on Monday June 7. Viewing will be on Monday from 1 to 2 PM at the Whitfield Funeral Home, 5008 Gall Blvd, Zephyrhills, FL 33543.THE SHUFFLER.

HARRIET SMITH “THE GREAT PLAYER & PERSON”
BEHIND THE NAME

Isn’t it too bad that all we know about the great players is their name on a page called the “Hall of Fame”; hers is there in 1978. Make no mistake; she was a great player, over 500 points in her Career, a State “Masters” Championship and when she was nearly 80 she whupped up on the young “chicks” and won a spot in the Central District “Masters” with her defining moment coming late in the “Masters” competition when she knocked Central District “Hall of Famer” Nicole Archambault for a loop allowing Joan C ook to sneak in and grab the “Championship” trophy bringing it back to it’s rightful home in the Betmar Club, Harriet’s home. I can personally attest that she is a tough competitor, the last thing you wanted to do was to lose to her and a female partner because it would go on the World Wide Web and you would hear about it from AROUND the world, she has friends everywhere. All of this and it really doesn’t define Harriet.

Every day of her life she “stepped forward”. She held office in the Central District many times in several different jobs, because she could help. The latest being National Representative, as she would say “My motor home will go anyplace” we needed her. When the Central District lost their “Masters” sponsor and all looked bleak, Harriet said I’ll do it! When Betmar had a chance to get a State “Pro” tournament she said she would sponsor it before we even figured out we had a problem. When we hosted the St ate “Masters” a couple of years ago and our committee didn’t know what to do, “she did”, after all she’d been handling the “Masters” score keepers for eons, she Sponsored three State “Masters” when they didn’t know where they were going to get the money. All of this and it doesn’t define Harriet, “the person”.

She devoted years to taking care of five close relatives who died with cancer after long illnesses. And what you don’t know and until recently no one knew, or at least very few knew, is that Harriet fought a battle with the Big “C” herself, a dozen years ago. It cost her a mastectomy, but she “won” putting the Big “C” in the kitchen. Now it’s back. She’s been battling like mad, in and out of the hospital, where she is now, four times since April. I can see this time she’s going to need all of our help. W on’t you join us in prayer for this “grand lady”? Earl Ball May 21st, 2004/
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HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE GAME OF SHUFFLEBOARD?

I remember, do you? The important thing is, that however we got into the game is probably the same way we can get others involved. My father-in-law would drag me out to the courts every time we visited them in Florida. I didn’t like it because all I wanted to do was play golf! Well after a while he got me into some tournaments and I finally won something and was HOOKED! I now figure golf is still there for me when I don’t want to shuffle any more. Lary Faris got involved when he was very young because his mother was a shuffler. She would give him 5 points if he reached the 1st lag line and 10 if he reached the 2nd lag line. I bet everyone else’s story falls somewhere in between. The other day a shuffler stopped by the house, on his way home from the courts, with a 10-year-old grandson who was just thrilled with the game. Every kid I’ve ever seen play the game is thrilled with it. My kids come to visit and the first thing they want to do is head for the courts. Of course my wife makes me sit on the side lines and “be quiet” if you can believe that. And that is the best thing that could happen because they just have a blast doing what ever they want. You know that’s how Glen Peltier maintains everyone should learn, give em the basics and let them go for six months, guess he’s right.
Another technique that works is to pick out a student each year, our club gives lessons and yours probably does too, and stay with that student for a year. I know Dave Minnich does that; he stays with them for two years and then picks up a new student. His students wind up being very successful players! I picked up a student two years ago and told her after lessons that if she stuck with it I would play the Zephyrhills mixed doubles with her at the end of the season. We did play and made it through a couple of matches, she was thrilled and I make it a practice only to say good things to students and so should you and here’s why. I didn’t realize the pressure she was under. Soon after our last match she fainted, hit her head and wound up in the hospital. Last season worked out better. One of our old time Pros was trying to teach his grandson to play the game. Of course the grandson didn’t think grandpa knew right from wrong but when I happened along and told him the very same things he did them all. I told him that if he kept working with his grandpa who had helped me learn the game, that I would play a tournament with him at the end of the season. We did and we won a place. He was thrilled, grandpa was thrilled, but most astonishing is that the Zephyrhills shuffleboard community was thrilled that I took the time to help him. You too can bring new players into the game if you try. Remember we don’t need many, just a few and our courts would be full again.
Alan Greenspan says the “baby boomers” will start collecting social security in 2008 and then our problem will be just the opposite!! Earl Ball 2004 06 03
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HOW LONG IS YOUR CUE???

The legal limit is 6 foot 3 inches. Mine is 5 ½ inches shorter! I don’t know if that’s good or bad, I know Allen and company sell some extra cues because people try to copy me. When people ask me, I tell them “I’m not very tall so the cue doesn’t have to be very long”. I think some people believe me! The real reason is that one day back a few years ago I refurbished Stan Williamson cue and decided to “run the new glides in” by using it in practice. Now any one that knows Stan realizes why his cue would be short. Who else gets the cue caught in the fan at St Cloud and runs like mad so they won’t get hit while everyone else stands there with their mouth open in amazement, ~~”only Stan”… or smashes his cue on the ground during the National Championships breaking off the runners ~~ only Stan, so it’s no wonder his cue is short. I liked it so much when I was working with it that I had Sam Allen make a special cue for me taking 5 ½ inches off the skinny end of a buggy whip. So many “players” have questioned me about it that after this year’s “Masters” I decide to have Sam make me a new cue of regulation length using the best shaft he had, taking the excess off the skinny end. I tried it for one practice match and couldn’t control the discs, needless to say I’ve “hung” it up and will probably never use it again!! It still seems to me though that guys like Ray Razor and Skip Wilde, being so tall, would have an advantage with the longer cue. When they reach out they are so close to their target I don’t see how they can miss, then again I’m not that tall so I guess my cue doesn’t have to be that long!!
By the way, Sam asked me if I thought the cue with the small wheels would ever catch on in Florida. I hadn’t really thought about it but I told him I didn’t think so. I’ve seen that type of cue in play by Stan Quinn and Red Rudolph from Texas and they told me it was for better control in the wind. Of course that’s the same reason we use the buggy whip in Florida. I guess we all bought the “buggy whip” because Glen Peltier, who over time has proven to be the best, said it was the best; maybe if he says the one with the wheels is better we’ll change! Earl Ball 2004 06 01
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HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE GAME OF SHUFFLEBOARD?

I remember, do you? The important thing is, that however we got into the game is probably the same way we can get others involved. My father-in-law would drag me out to the courts every time we visited them in Florida. I didn’t like it because all I wanted to do was play golf! Well after a while he got me into some tournaments and I finally won something and was HOOKED! I now figure golf is still there for me when I don’t want to shuffle any more. Lary Faris got involved when he was very young because his mother was a shuffler. She would give him 5 points if he reached the 1st lag line and 10 if he reached the 2nd lag line. I bet everyone else’s story falls somewhere in between. The other day a shuffler stopped by the house, on his way home from the courts, with a 10-year-old grandson who was just thrilled with the game. Every kid I’ve ever seen play the game is thrilled with it. My kids come to visit and the first thing they want to do is head for the courts. Of course my wife makes me sit on the side lines and “be quiet” if you can believe that. And that is the best thing that could happen because they just have a blast doing what ever they want. You know that’s how Glen Peltier maintains everyone should learn, give em the basics and let them go for six months, guess he’s right.
Another technique that works is to pick out a student each year, our club gives lessons and yours probably does too, and stay with that student for a year. I know Dave Minnich does that; he stays with them for two years and then picks up a new student. His students wind up being very successful players! I picked up a student two years ago and told her after lessons that if she stuck with it I would play the Zephyrhills mixed doubles with her at the end of the season. We did play and made it through a couple of matches, she was thrilled and I make it a practice only to say good things to students and so should you and here’s why. I didn’t realize the pressure she was under. Soon after our last match she fainted, hit her head and wound up in the hospital. Last season worked out better. One of our old time Pros was trying to teach his grandson to play the game. Of course the grandson didn’t think grandpa knew right from wrong but when I happened along and told him the very same things he did them all. I told him that if he kept working with his grandpa who had helped me learn the game, that I would play a tournament with him at the end of the season. We did and we won a place. He was thrilled, grandpa was thrilled, but most astonishing is that the Zephyrhills shuffleboard community was thrilled that I took the time to help him. You too can bring new players into the game if you try. Remember we don’t need many, just a few and our courts would be full again.
Alan Greenspan says the “baby boomers” will start collecting social security in 2008 and then our problem will be just the opposite!! Earl Ball 2004 06 03
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