Photo by New York Times
We have another great 1-wall run to report that was performed by another teenager from the 70’s that seems to have been forgotten by handball players of the past as it took place exactly 45 years ago.
Sure Mr. Sandler’s 1-wall run was considered a great run back then when at the age of 21 he beat three Hall of Famers. But as we have said before - better and younger players have come around to establish even better records and runs. Such is the case of teen Mark Levine.
Mark Levine graduated early from Lincoln High School on January of 1970, and was bound to college to continue his education. But before he headed to college he had already set his eyes in the AAU 1-wall national singles title that every teenager always dreamed to capture.
He is considered to be a pioneer among teenagers to ever challenge the best 1-wall players of the game in the last fifty years. First he challenged them in 1969 at the age of 17, but was denied a pass to the semifinals after putting up a great fight. He did win his junior division.
In 1970 Mark Levine at the age of 18 challenged the best players of the game once again and hoped for the best to get into the spotlight that barely missed the previous year. This time he didn’t play in the juniors divisions and focused only in the men’s open singles. His determination to win and beat the best players of that era paid off after going through a tough draw considered by many too tough for a teen.
For those wondering if Mark Levine also beat three HOF players on his way to the title, the answer is; Yes.
In 1970 when he won the AAU singles, he beat Al Torres (HOF) in the round of 16, Mike Dikman (#2 seed) in the quarters, Ken Davidoff (#3 seed-HOF) in the semis and Steve Sandler (#1 seed-HOF) in the finals.
There was a big controversy after the final match ended and for some strange reason the NYTime reporter covering this event was filled in by Sandler’s supporters and stated that Steve Sandler was playing with an injured shoulder incurred during a warmed up game the previous Friday. Sandler’s supporters also argued that Steve was forced to play with one hand as he was denied a request to have the final postponed.
On the other hand Mark Levine’s supporters stated that Sandler played the majority of the match with both hands and only after losing the first game 21-5, and already losing the second game, he removed his strong arm glove (Sandler’s opposite was a legend and better than most B players).
Once again, we have no choice but to revisit Mr. K. Davidoff’s controversial article on Mr. Sandler’s run. Mr. Davidoff’s story seems to lead us to believe that Sandler’s 1-wall run was the greatest run after he posted his convincing closing statement “Nothing like that has ever happened before, and nothing like that has ever happened since"
We do apologize to our reader for not being able to publish Mr. Levine’s 1-wall run from the USHA handball magazine* (if indeed there is one out there), as we haven’t been able to gain access to it. But we do want to remind them that here in Tyree’s website, they can still decide by themselves if teen Mark Levine’s 1-wall run could also be considered a great 1-wall run under our Label – You be the Judge!
*This article is a compilation of material found in the USHA, WPH and other internet websites. Some of this content is also derived from personal and online interviews. Photographs come from the USHA and New York Times’ websites.
Mr. Davidoff’s article was posted in the USHA Court Shorts on 07/ 11/14
by Ken Davidoff.
AAU greatest handball run (singles)
Steve Sandler, arguably the best one wall handball player in the last sixty years, passed away this week at the age of 74, in Brooklyn, N.Y., of an undisclosed illness.
Steve won the US Handball Association championship in 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973 and 1981. He also won the AAU singles championship in 1961, 1966, 1967, 1969, 1971, 1972, and 1974. In the 1961 AAU tournament, at the age of 21, he beat Carl, Ruby and Oscar Obert in successive rounds. All were hall of famers at the top of their games. Nothing like that had ever happened before, and nothing like that has ever happened since.
Bottom Photo: Richard Mascias shoots the ball to the right bottom corner.
The first time we saw Mascias play was at the Coney Island handball courts in 2006 when he played Tyree in the finals. Ever since then Richard has been having a good time playing and excelling in 1-wall tournaments until we caught up with him at the 2015 Long Island Open where we also watched him excel in the 4-wall game.
Mr. Mascias played against seasoned players in the men’s 50 division where he ended up in the final game against perennial champion Dan Vera.
To our surprise, he dismantled and beat Mr. Vera in two games and that's when we approached him and asked him. Since when do you play 4-wall?
“It wasn’t long when I decided to try 4-wall. I always heard about it, but never gave it a try” said Mascias.
“I didn’t know it was such a fun game. I should have tried this game a long time ago. This game will keep me busy and in shape during the cold months”
Congratulations to Mr. Mascias for winning the title.
Photos by Keith Thode
Tyree Bastidas’ diving for the ball is not diving enough, and his diving is not properly done, according to some critics of his game. A young generation isn’t learning from the great handball players from the past, who originated the roles and the great works of diving are slipping into oblivion. Whatever the lament over the last decade or so has been a perennial cause for complaint among handball lovers and critics here.
Not everyone has the ability to dive to retrieve and return shots that are un-getable, so we decided to ask one of the greatest handball players of the big ball game, “Buddy Grant” How do you see the diving for the ball by the current top players?
“I don’t like to see too much diving on the court. Timbo and Gio are overdoing it and it’s going to affect them on the long run. Both players won’t last too long past their thirties.”
More recently at the Simple Green handball tournament, Dave Fink, a WPH Commentator and player of the game, criticized Tyree Bastidas for his excessive diving at the big ball 3-wall (short walls) event by stating that Bastidas has no concerns for his body.
Although Tyree might have dived for the ball more than usual during the thrilling tiebreaker quarter finals, Mr. Fink failed to announced to the audience that Tyree was playing on an oversize handball court (not a regulation USHA court size), where players are expected to dive and reach for the ball that normally they would have gotten on a regular size court.
Mr. Fink also failed to let the audience know that Tyree’s amazing diving has helped him finish among the best eight players of the big ball 3-wall (short walls) game in the past two years. A feat accomplished without practicing or participating at 3-short-wall events.
Whether Tyree does too little or too much diving, he’s always going to be in the eye of the storm when it comes to handball commentary. But one thing remains a constant: great players resort to diving to score, win and in the end, to clinch a title.
Not everyone is cut out to dive for a ball just like not everyone is cut out to be a champion. Not sure about the last statement? Just ask the players in the photos posted above.
Roger Federer’s record made him the king of tennis during 302 consecutive weeks where he managed to reign as the No 1 seed for the longest period of time in Tennis History.
R. Federer battled his way to this record by crushing the opposition with his tennis racket. But in the handball sport there is no need for rackets or other man-made object to battle your way to the top.
The sport of Handball has always been considered the most natural sport as it doesn’t require players to depend on objects such as rackets and paddles to hit the ball.
In handball competition players hit the ball either with their bared hands or by wearing gloves that keep their hands dry during the games.
We asked Tyree: Have you ever played tennis?
“Yes, I did when I was 16, but I didn’t feel comfortable at the end of the games. Every time I hit the ball and scored, I didn’t feel it was me scoring. My tennis racket was doing everything for me. It reached for the ball where I would have never reached with my hands” said Tyree.
“Maybe I”ll pick up tennis when I get older and in need of a hand extension to reach for the ball”
Sure 302 weeks seem an impossible record to reach for any tennis or handball player, but we are confident Tyree Bastidas could reach and hopefully topple this record.
As of July 30, 2015, handball king, Tyree Bastidas will be holding to the No 1 seed for 260 consecutive weeks – an all-time documented record in the handball sport.
Happy 90th Birthday to Joe Ingrassia
by Catherine Becker
As a Club member since 1949, a former top class handball player and a past president, there are few members who have devoted as much of their life to the NYAC. So, it was only fitting that the Club should organize an appropriate celebration for the great man, which it did on September 23rd. With family, friends and admirers arriving from across the country, it was an occasion that will long be remembered. Even Edwin Cardinal O’Brien, arrived from Baltimore to offer congratulations and to deliver an apostolic blessing from Pope Francis. If the caliber of a man may be judged by the number of his friends, the evidence of this event is that Joe Ingrassia is a rare individual indeed. Congratulations and best wishes to Joe from all of his friends at the NYAC. Here’s to many more.
Mark Levine is the first teenager to win the AAU 1-wall national singles title in the men's open at the Coney Island handball courts in Brooklyn.
Tyree Bastidas is the first teenager to win the USHA 1-wall national singles title in the men's open at the Coney Island handball courts in Brooklyn.