Satish Jagnandan’s success in the USHA men’s open started in 2004, the same year Tyree started playing in the Association for the first time in the 13-and-under juniors division. Fast-forward to the end of the first decade as we watched Satish captures his last 1-wall open national title. He had reigned and dominated the 1-wall courts by winning five titles in a six-year period.
On the other hand, Tyree Bastidas, the most successful junior player in the Association, had also reigned and dominated by winning a record number of titles across America. Fast-forward to (2010) and we see that Tyree looked poised to take control of the men’s open, which he did.
The summer of 2010 will always be marked as the change of command season at the Coney Island handball courts, the “Mecca of 1-wall handball in the world.” Satish Jagnandan passed the torch to his younger successor to the throne.
“I always believe 2010 was the year Satish passed the torch to Tyree” said Mike Angley from Upstate, New York.
Congratulations to both future Hall of fame players.
As in any sport, there are people who follow a sport for fun and others for general knowledge, but there are also people out there who have negative feelings towards some of the players for different reasons.
Recently, Howie Eisenberg made some unprovoked negative comments on Tyree Bastidas’ record by stating that Tyree’s open record at this point is not enough to compare him with the best all around players of the game. Not only was Eisenberg way off the amount of open titles that Tyree has at this point as we have previously posted, but he seems to ignore the numbers completely.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and feelings toward their player of choice, but to go ahead and make an unfair comparison of Tyree’s current handball record to Vic Herskowitz’s final record when he retired from Master Competition, was the most ridiculous comparison. “Tyree is a great talent and certainly has a lot of guts. However at this point with 4 or 5 open championships, he's about 35 behind Vic Herskowitz and Oscar Obert” Howie Eisenberg said.
We are fully aware that Howie Eisenberg is a die-hard fan of Vic Herskowitz as Eisenberg’s obsession for Vic is derived from his childhood wild imagination “When I was 10, I used to play hand-tennis with Vic at the Brighton Beach Baths. Because it was a small court and Vic would often hit the ball too hard to stay within the lines, I was actually competitive with him.” Howie said.
Howie even boasts (unconfirmed reports) about Vic Herskowitz, asking him to be his doubles partner: Vic asked me to play with him in my first national tournament at age 18, telling me, “Kid, you’ve got some arm.”
Whatever handball fairy-tale Howie may have, it doesn’t justify for him to publicly diminish and belittle Tyree’s open record.
In the past people always tried to ignore his criticism, but it is worth to point out that this is not the first time Howie Eisenberg has been critical of handball players who don’t belong to his era. His checkered past and his negative criticism has landed him in trouble with the handball community before.
In 2012, Eisenberg resigned in disgrace from the USHA Hall of Fame handball Committee due to a series of misunderstandings with USHA Officials, negative remarks and his inability to attract handball players into our game. “Howie’s negative rhetoric has pushed away more handball players than he’s attracted” Robert Pearce, a USHA Board Member said.
Here in New York most handball players don’t have kind words for Eisenberg either. Some players from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s have also known Eisenberg as a person who holds personal vendettas against some of New York players who don’t agree with his personal views.
In 2013, Mark Levine, an excellent young open national champion from the 70’s was finally inducted into the USHA Hall of Fame after Eisenberg was not longer in charge of the HOF voting Committee. Howie always made sure Mark Levine never got inducted into the Hall.
“How did such a loose cannon get into a position of Authority? With so much hate and disdain towards some players, who knows how many more players he’s hurt with his veto voting power” Richard Ocasio, a handball fan said.
“He even got himself into the Hall o Fame when he was in charge. What a joke!
Tyree wasn't too happy with Howie's wild comparison either. I’ m happy he is gone. I would have never got inducted into the HOF if my name was ever recommended for it. Tyree said.
But not everyone think of Eisenberg as a loose cannon “I never had any problems with Eisenberg before, but I’m aware a lot of people in New York don’t like him” said Stephen Marck, a former open player from the 70’s.
“I’m glad he didn’t come to watch the 1-wall nationals this year. Howie needs to grow up” said a handball player who preferred to remain anonymous.
“A lot of people in Coney Island don’t feel comfortable when he is walking around here”
Indeed, we don’t feel comfortable either and Tyree and his brother Jurell will try to ignore him and his destructive criticism as much as possible as in the photo shown above.
We understand we are dealing with someone still living in the past who is out of touch with the handball community, but we are still hoping Howie becomes a fair and sensitive person by giving young players, the future of handball who don’t belong to his era, the full respect and merit they have earned and deserved.
Ivan Burgos (13-yer-old) came to play and win at the 3-wall nationals for the first time. He came accompanied with his older brother looking to capture his first junior title. He was disappointed when he didn’t win, but he hopes to comeback next year and win the same way Tyree did it “I came to this tournament for the first time when I was also 13 year-old and I lost in the finals the same way you did. But the following year I came back determined to win and I did” Tyree told Ivan.
“If I could do it you could do it too”
We’ve seen Burgos play 4-wall in Ontario, Canada in 2012 and found him to be an excellent all-around junior player. For those who don’t know him, he also plays 1-wall with the small and the big ball and is bound to take on the juniors across America sooner than later.
Congratulations to Ivan Burgos.
Recently we attended the 4-wall nationals in Minneapolis, Minnesota and were impressed with the hospitality and organization of this tournament.
For those of you who are used to top-notch events, the 4-wall nationals held at he University of Minneapolis must be attended at least once during your handball career.
The University of Minnesota offers some of the best handball courts (at least eight) and is located right across the hotel for your convenience. How can you go wrong with this tournament!
The spacious handball center is also the site where it offers a great hospitality along with a new Handball Hall of Fame located adjacent to the courts.
The HOF is stacked with a large selection of handball reading material, reference books and a wide range of magazines which details the rich history of handball that could rival the USHA handball library.
Congratulations to all those involve in organizing and staging one of the best tournaments in the country.
Top two photos by Bill Fand
Cesar Sala and Tyree Bastidas found each other on a collision course on July 26. But it wasn’t at the USHA 1-wall small ball open division; it was at the KOTC 1-wall big ball open tournament, where the best of the best big ball players battle for dominance.
They met during the third round of perhaps the biggest big ball open that included 100 players in it.
Both players are good with the small and big ball and they played a long game that almost took close to an hour to finish.
We asked Tyree after the game: why did it take so long to beat Cesar? “He was playing good” Tyree responded.
“He kept diving to retrieve my shots and he kept returning everything I threw at him”
Tyree and Cesar also played at the KOTC last year and performed beyond expectations, considering they are both small ball specialists.
Congratulations to both champions for their good performance and for supporting big ball handball tournaments.