Racquets – Woodies

“The very first “paddle racquet” for our sport was provided by our inventor, Joe Sobek.   Of course, these racquets were made of wood.  These ‘woodies’ were provided from 1949 and continued until the early 70’s.  They were all basically 13 ½” long by 8 ¾” wide.  The grips varied in size.  They were all very large and were wrapped by a leather strap.  Early thinking was that Joe Sobek cut off wood tennis racquets and used those to promote the game.  However, early records show this was not the case.  He had two suppliers for the paddle racquets.  We even have a letter he sent out showing his pricing for the two different paddles for sale.  The words he uses are quite enlightening.  There were at least 30 different manufactures of wood paddle racquets.  There are a few wood racquets with the name ‘racquetball.’ After the name change in 1969, the ‘woodies’ were still being manufactured, and we see the name change from Paddle Rackets to Racquetball.  I personally used a Joe Sobek model during 1969, and it preformed quite well.  This was the time of the slower ball, and the ceiling ball had not yet been introduced in Memphis.  During the time of the ‘woodies,’ racquetball was mostly a control game which was well suited with these heavy, smaller rackets.”-Randy Stafford