Biggest jerk in 50s and 60s ?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by GustafsonFanatic, Dec 2, 2009.

  1. GustafsonFanatic

    GustafsonFanatic Banned

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    I have a question for historians here.

    Who was the biggest jerk before Connors, Nasty and McEnroe stormed in during the 1970s?

    Was there anyone with really appalling behavior on and off the court in 50s and 60s? Or, if they were all perfect, who was the worst behaved sportsman/gamesman of all the well-known players in those decades?
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2009
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  2. GustafsonFanatic

    GustafsonFanatic Banned

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    Anyone?
    This is an honest question, not a troll-bait, by any means.
     
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  3. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    I've read that back then, Pancho Gonzales could get pretty "surly" at times. He and Tony Trabert really didn't like each other too much. See this SI article from it's "vault". I'm sure some other more experienced posters could shed some more light on Pancho's behavior at times back then and some other "tennis bad boys". Having said that Pancho was surely one of the best players ever, in my opinion, and definitely one of the greatest serve and volleyers of all time, based on his track record. I've only seen short video clips of his play though.
     
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  4. the little dasher

    the little dasher New User

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    I have a suspicion that jerk behaviour began with the pro tours btwn the wars. Unsaddled with the gentlemanly obligations of amatuer tennis, the pros didn't feel constrained especially when they were the stars or even promoters of the tours. Tennis crowds at pro venues were more vocal than their counterparts in amatuer tennis and there are stories of the players arguing with people in the crowds.

    This was in the 30s. I've read stories where one player (Lott I think) grabbed Fred Perry and was actually punching him. Perry was a bit of a stirrer and was patronising to alot of his oppenents. Yet he too was had a few times. He once threatened to crack another player (Riggs I think) over the head with his racquet. Lott used to imitate Tilden's "mincing" walk while Frankie Kovacs pissed everyone off with his clowning around, impersonations and breath taking stroke play. Tilden himself was not above using his reputation to get things his way too. He once abused a linesman who got up and walked over to him. Bill calmed what could've been a fight by shaking the official's hand.

    So tennis seems to have a long history of jerks. One of the few downsides of professionalism.
     
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  5. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I wasn't into tennis back in the '50's thru early '70's, but can I nominate my old GoldenGatePark doubles adversary, ARTLARSEN?
    Talk about old grouch, a bad word for everyone and about everyone, only smiles when he makes a great shot, really surly if you hit good shots against him, and constantly making really horrid line calls in his own favor.
    I must have played against him in doubles at least 50 times, in the mid '70's, when he would surely have been 55 years old.
    Maybe not one of the all time greats, I think he won a US Open sometime back late '40's or early 50's, so he was no hack either. Great AmericanTwist serve for a short, fat, really old dude.
     
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  6. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Ellsworth Vines said in his book that Art Larsen had the greatest one handed lefty backhand ever. I also heard he was very superstitious. Did he have a great lefty backhand when he was older and did you find him to be superstitious?
     
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  7. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Last edited: Dec 2, 2009
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  8. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    He sliced his backhands by mid '70's, but could come over the top with slow topspin sharp angled CC's, which we all knew and was wary of.....
    As for superstitious, he'd wear like 3 chains around his neck, kissed them at times, fondled them at times, and did his normal pre serve routine of driving you crazy by stopping his motion to "check" everyone's ready. I never saw him praying to the devil or anything like that, but his best buddy was a drunkard GeorgePonticoff (maybe mis-spelled), who went a few rounds at some big pro tournaments around the later '50's.
    Of course, he WAS nice enough to accept me into his regular foursome, even thos I was maybe a very low C player when I first went there. Me lefty, really big serve, not much else then.
     
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  9. the little dasher

    the little dasher New User

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    Also says he was injured in an accident that left him paralysed and without the use of an eye. Lee: Did the guy you play hop on one leg and have a patch over his eye?
     
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  10. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    He limped for sure, but it didn't affect his twist serves, his topspin and topspin lob forehands, his short angled rolled CC passing shots, and his ability to magically appear right where you intended to hit the ball.
    He could see light or dark with the bad eye, so not that bad. Sometimes, he'd fool you and know where you're going even on his "blind" side, but that may be a factor from playing a real high level of tennis for many years.
    Of course, I never saw him really "run" for a ball, as it's easier for old farts (like me) to say "winner", than to huff and puff around the court.
    Character, yes.
    Surly, yes.
    Gruff, yes.
    But even the B players would wander over and check out his game.
     
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  11. dlk

    dlk Hall of Fame

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    Wow, they make Serena look like a nun.
     
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  12. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    For the 50's and 60's I'd go with Gonzales (Connors and Mac both claimed he was worse and tougher than them....tougher...yes....) and maybe Earl Cochell.
     
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  13. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Yes, Cochell should have been bad, was banned for life for shouting and slapping at an umpire. I thought, Art Larsen was in a wheelchair after his accident in the 50s. I read, that he was wounded in WWII, and his histrionics were based in a trauma after a war battle with some German tanks. Dennis "The ******" Ralston was banned for some time. The Italians Gardini and Merlo were also famous for some unorthodox tactics, including faking cramps and falls.
     
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  14. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Not to forget Bob Hewitt, who wasn't a nice guy on the court. He once at Berlin got in a fist fight with Roger Taylor, a former boxer, and was knocked out cold.
     
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  15. GustafsonFanatic

    GustafsonFanatic Banned

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    Faking cramps? I thought they had no medical timeouts then.

    Any other famous gamesmen from those days? How did they cheat in general, was there any stalling, time-wasting before serve, erasing the marks?....
     
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  16. GustafsonFanatic

    GustafsonFanatic Banned

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  17. GustafsonFanatic

    GustafsonFanatic Banned

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    I found this article from 1981 by Sidney Wood

    http://www.nytimes.com/1981/07/12/sports/ilie-nastase-tantrum-throwers-through-the-years.html



     
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  18. AndrewD

    AndrewD Legend

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    Pancho Gonazalez was hated (not disliked, but actually hated) but almost every other player he competed with and against. Segura might have been the only exception but none of the Aussies could stand him, Trabert loathed him and few of the Americans wanted anything to do with him.

    According to guys like Anderson, Rosewall and Cooper, the only guy that Gonzalez had any respect for was Hoad. The reason why he respected Hoad was because he was scared of him. Against all of the other players he tried to intimidate them, cheat them or bully them. Against Hoad, he'd play nice because he knew that, when they got back into the locker room, he'd cop a belting.

    Gonzalez was and is overrated. Great, but still very overrated.
     
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  19. the little dasher

    the little dasher New User

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  20. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Going by Gordon Forbes, the Italian giant Orlando Sirola was famous for producing strange and enormous corporal sounds and winds on court.
     
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  21. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I love the way you put it Urban.

    Frankly I think a lot of the low lives in tennis was in the administrative areas. These were the people who made all the profits before Open Tennis and didn't allow the game to grow like it should have.
     
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  22. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Urban...
    We all get injured, then we heal somewhat, or die.
    I was in a hip cast for 7 months, then another 6 in a kneelength cast. 13 pins and some wire.
    I've broken my legs 4 times.
    Broken 4 collarbones and over 17 ribs.
    Broken and pinned all 4 outside fingers.
    And I still windsurf, play tennis, and surf.
     
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