Date: Tue, 31 Mar 1998 03:54:36 EST
Subject: Racquetball; "I (heart) NY" logogram


I found this in Newsday, Sunday, 29 March 1998, pg. C27, col. 5:

_OBIT: Racquetball Founder, J. Sobek._ Joseph Sobek, the former tennis
pro who invented racquetball in the early 1950s at a YMCA and was the first
inductee into the sport's hall of fame (Where is that? Gotta check Dickson's
halls-of-fame book--ed.), has died. He was 79. Sobek died of congential
heart disease Friday at Greenwich (Conn.) Hospital.

The web site has:

Racquetball was invented by Joe Sobek in 1949 on a Connecticut handball
court. Seeking a game with fast pace that was easy to learn, Sobek designed
the first short strung paddle, devised rules combining the basics of handball
and squash, and named his modification "paddle rackets." His experiment was
an overnight success, the sport caught on quickly and has since evolved into
racquetball as we know it today.

OED has "racquetball, orig U. S., Also racquet ball." The first citation
is from 1972--twenty-three years after the game was invented! Joe Sobek is
never mentioned!
Obviously, we can do better on this Americanism. The easy way to have
done this was to have written to Joe Sobek and just asked him. I'm sure he
kept newspaper clippings somewhere.
The thing for dictionary-makers to do now is to write to whatever family
members honored him and ask for the same information. We can also write to
the hall of fame.
If I had time, I'd do "racquetball" and "hacky sack" lingo for American


AMERICAN SPEECH, winter 1985, vol. 60, no. 4, pp. 366-367, has "The
Symbol (heart)." "I (heart) New York" is the first example given.
It's not a great AS note. It's mentioned that the heart sign is on
playing cards, but historical citations aren't provided.


I have vowed never never never never to purchase any product that AOL
hawks on those stupid, ubiquitous ads. Today AOL hawked a product by Dragon
I will be off the internet from Sunday, April 5th to Tuesday, April 20th.
I'm going to Syria & Jordan, where I'll see Damascus, Amman, Aleppo, Ugarit
(home of the first alphabet), Palmyra, Dura Europos (where ROTAS/SATOR squares
were found), Mari, Jerash, Petra (the rose-colored city), and Ebla (where I'll
be researching the linguistic origins of Connie Eble).