The mighty brother team from San Francisco, California lays claim as the first team of brothers in USHA Handball History to reach the finals when it broke through a field of more than 30 teams. The now-legendary team burst on the handball scene in the mid '70s, but soared into Handball History in 1977 after beating former national team champions: Ray Neveau and Simie Fein in St. Louis, MO.
Geoff and Jay Capell were not strangers to the handball world. Their father: Jeff Capell, a former National Champion used to play handball at the San Francisco Olympic Club in California where he won numerous tournaments and where he got to meet and compete against some of the great handball players such as Al Bannuet.
Later on, Geoff and Jay Capell, followed their father's foot steps by also competing and winning at the Olympic Club. They also have several national titles in either 3- or 4-wall competition. One of the most recent winnings was recorded in 2013 when “little” brother Jay teamed up with Alan Sherrill to win the USHA 3- and 4-wall national titles in the men's 60-age division.
But what really happened in that historic day of the championship match of the men's open doubles event in 1977?
The Cinderella handball story of team Geoff and Jay Capell came to an abrupt end after six rounds of competition when they faced team Skip McDowell and Matt Kelly.
Team Capell made history when it became the first team of brothers to reach the championship match of the USHA 4-wall nationals. A Milestone that stills stand today after more than sixty five years of USHA national four-wall open competition.
Congratulations to Team Geoff and Jay Capell.
Photo by Bill Fand - Steve Sandler, Howie Eisenberg and Yuber Castro.
Old Dudes Remember……
Re-posted from NCHA Scoop – Sep/2014.
By Bernie Samet:
One of my favorites -- down in Toledo at the 3-wall Nationals. Had a rental car. About 20 years ago. Ready to drive out to dinner (at Ralph's about a mile away). My buddy, Bob Johnston is with me in the front, we load up the car with 3 more players that are going to dinner. Somehow, one of those three is Howie Eisenberg. Veteran players know Howie - a transplanted New Yorker living in SoCal now. Great player in his day - but never quite as good as he himself thought.
Playing against him or reffing one of his matches is always an ugly prospect. Everything MUST go his way or there will be arguments. Anyway, somehow on the way to the restaurant, we start talking about "all-time" power hitters of Handball. Of course, John Bike and Steve August are mentioned - I forget who else. Howie mentions a few players and then ranks himself third of all time or tied for third. I look at Bob, we share a nod and start working on Howie telling him how he still has soooo much power, that he is being too modest. It took under a minute (to my discredit I thought it would take at least five), but Howie graciously agreed that, in hindsight, he was number one or at least in a dead heat with Bike. Bet Bike didn't know he shared this honor with Howie.
Photo by Holly Koffler
In victory or defeat, this handball season belonged to Tyree Bastidas. He spurred global chatter after he captured a national title in every handball version after he won the world title in Ireland. But Bastidas by his own choice, is not playing at the U.S. Open of handball in California this year. In his absence, that elite tournament feels less like a fitting end to a fascinating season and more like a spectacle unto itself.
There is no sugarcoating Bastidas' withdrawal.
“A terrible blow for the U.S open of handball,” said Carl Viedo, a handball follower from Brooklyn.
“When the best all-around handball player in the world is not playing, it does devalue the event. Bastidas was and still is the only player at the 4-wall open events who had dared to cross over to challenge the best 3-short wall players at the Simple Green Tournament.”
Bastidas' decision was prompted for his own safety at the Simple Green 3-wall competition last year when he was heckled, interrupted and threatened by handball fanatics when he pushed one of the best 3-wall players from the west to a tiebreaker in an extraordinary effort to reach the semifinals. His wide point advantage at the USHA Grand National Series across the continent also gave him another reason not to attend the tournament.
He cited both as factors in his withdrawal decision.
Tyree Bastidas won't be competing at the U.S. open of handball 3-wall events anytime soon until he gets written assurances from tournament organizers that his safety is warranted during the four-day competition.
Myth – The USHA 3-wall nationals has always been held during the Labor Day Weekend.
Fact – The USHA 3-wall nationals has been held on different dates other than the Labor Day Weekend.