“The United States Racquetball Museum has the privilege of naming Dr. Bud Muehleisen as “The Father of Racquetball.” In my opinion, this is one of the easiest decisions I have ever made, and I would like to make it official. In this section of the museum, I will take you through why Dr. Bud is the “Father of Racquetball.” He is truly a living legend.
I met Dr. Bud for the first time while I was in high school. It was in 1971 at the Top 16 National Invitational Doubles Tournament in Louisville, Kentucky. This being my first national tournament, I was told to call Dr. Bud the first morning and ask to meet him for breakfast. I remember it like it was yesterday. Dr. Bud did not have a clue who I was, but he graciously accepted my invitation to meet for breakfast. I could not believe who all was there. It included Brumfield, Roderick, Zeitman, Porco, Keeley, and other top national players of that time. They were all gathered around Dr. Bud, and anyone could tell that this was one special man that was in the process of changing our game forever.
Dr. Bud started playing Racquetball in 1968. The game at that time was unorganized and was actually called Paddle Rackets. Starting in 1968, Dr. Bud’s march through Racquetball included playing and dominating the sport in all events, creating and developing the sport as we know it today, teaching and coaching, organizing tournaments and events, refereeing on occasions, writing articles, and so much more.
Commonly known as “Dr. Bud” to the throngs of players that idolized him for decades, it is amazing that one man can do so much for the sport. At the age of 37, he had his first win at the 1st National Championship held in St. Louis. Dr. Bud competed for 18 years, retiring from competition at age 55. He won 69 National and International Titles which included both singles and doubles. In 1974, he was the first person to be inducted in the Hall of Fame for racquetball, even before the inventor himself, Joe Sobek, who was inducted second. Dr. Bud even has one of the top awards given in his name at Nationals every year, called the Dr. Bud Muehleisen Age group award. This award is given to the top male player in the age group category.
Dr. Bud was instrumental in developing the very first set of rules that we use today. He was the IRA Rules Commissioner for 7 years. He consulted for many startup racquetball companies such as Ektelon, Leach, Vittert, Omega, Seamco and Trenway. During the early development process, there were many influential people working on the different aspects of Racquetball. These devoted players, athletic directors, and manufacturers exchanged on-going letters and documents trying to perfect the rules, balls, equipment, tournament sites, court layout, etc. As I was going through these letters and documents, I realized they all seemed to include a common denominator, Dr. Bud. “What would Dr. Bud say about this?” “Have you heard from Dr. Bud?” “Will Dr. Bud be attending this tournament?” Dr. Bud Muehleisen was a common subject when discussing racquetball.
Dr. Bud was truly at the right place at the right time with our sport. But it was our sport that was at the right time when Dr. Bud came on the scene. His overflowing contributions to Racquetball were pretty much a full-time job; however, he never received payments for all of his work as it was all volunteer work. It was Dr. Bud who was at the center of all areas giving back and guiding Racquetball during its most critical times.
Taking everything Dr. Bud has done for Racquetball, there is one area that I know is most important to him personally. That is being a good mentor on and off the court. He would be the first to tell you that all of his trophies and work he did developing the sport are not that worthy. His most important endeavor and accomplishment to the sport was to help the multitude of individuals develop their game on the court and their lives off the court. Many of us, including myself, are where we are because of a direct result of the work and effort that Dr. Bud did for us. Our games are better as a result of his efforts and our lives are better because of the positive effect that Dr. Bud had on so many of us. First learning the game of racquetball as a teenager, I got the privilege to spend two summers with Dr. Bud in San Diego. I thought I was really something special because Dr. Bud chose me. However, I learned many years after that, that I was just one of many that Dr. Bud did this for; and even more, he treated each of us just as special. But in retrospect, it was he that was the special one.
Congratulations Dr. Bud! You are the FATHER OF RACQUETBALL.”-Randy Stafford
Below are photographs, articles, letters, magazine covers, and documents that feature Dr. Bud. I wanted to include everything I could find on Dr. Bud so remember that some items might just quickly mention his name while others might elaborate. I will surely add more as I come across items.
View Magazine Covers, Newspaper Articles, and Letters
- “How Racquetball Got Its Name” by Dr. Bud Muehleisen
- “The First Oversized Racquetball Racquet” by Randy Stafford
- “Loveday and the Evolution and Lost Art of the Overhead Killshot!” by Bo Keeley with Marty Hogan
- “Pacific Paddleball Association” by Bo Keeley
- “Ektelon-Leach: The Pioneer Racquet Companies” by Bo Keeley
- “The Roots of Pro Racquetball” by Bo Keeley
- “Sword and Shield of the Early Racquetball Conquistadors” by Bo Keeley