The invitation arrived in the mail: "Top Secret - Don't Breath a Word!" It continued, "Bob Brown hates surprises, birthdays and big parties - so let's do it all!"
Everyone must have obeyed the instructions of Ann Brown, because Bob was certainly surprised when he arrived at Fox Meadow for what he thought was a "Last Gasp" paddle party, to celebrate the end of the season - and found a group assembled for another kind of celebration. Knowing that Bob would be disappointed not to play, no matter what other plans she had, there was indeed a platform tennis tournament that afternoon - and the winner was... Bob Brown!
Hors d'oeuvres, cocktails, dinner and birthday cake followed the "tournament". Although Ann requested "no gifts", there were heartfelt poems and songs delivered, as well as an "award" (NOT a gift, Chuck Vasoll insisted) of a framed APTA flag presented to "the flagship of platform tennis".
Many of us in the platform tennis community presume that Bob has played the sport his entire life. The truth is that he didn't "discover" platform until he was 40! Prior to that, he showed his athletic prowess in other sports, including golf, tennis, table tennis, basketball and track. At Scarsdale High School, as captain of the basketball team, he set a single game scoring record; and his 1946 long jump record still stands 62 years later! In his 40 years in platform tennis, he has garnered 19 titles, all in senior events.
It is impossible to have been around platform tennis for any length of time and not to have encountered Bob in some volunteer capacity. He is known for his willingness to work, his historical knowledge of the sport, his attention to detail and his leadership. Having served the American Platform Tennis Association in many capacities, Bob is now the Chairman of the Hall of Fame Committee as well as Chairman of the Platform Tennis Museum and Hall of Fame Foundation.
Happy Birthday, Bob!
Full size photos available at Flickr
~ Photos by Kirby Shyer and Marjorie Hodson