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Pickleball in the Press

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Image is a detail from a newspaper of an article entitled "Pickleball? It's like badminton and tennis, too.," with an accompanying photo of a two men on a badminton court holding paddles and playing the game Pickelball.
“Pickleball? It’s Like Badminton and Tennis, Too,” Union-Bulletin (Walla Walla, WA), April 23, 1976. From NewspaperArchive.

Like the bicycle, the marathon, and the roller-skating crazes that came before it, the pickleball (sometimes “pickle-ball” in newspapers) craze is sweeping the nation. 

Though it has elements of ping-pong, tennis, and badminton, it is a unique sport of its own. According to USA Pickleball’s website, three neighbors “Congressman Joel Pritchard, Barney McCallum, and Bill Bell invented the game of pickleball one summer afternoon in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, WA.” The catchy name is thought to be attributed to the Pritchards’ dog (a cocker spaniel) named Pickles who often chased the ball (Pickles’ ball, get it?). Rules were quickly developed by the founding members with the original purpose in mind: “To provide a game that the whole family could play together.”

A page from a newspaper with the headline "Caught in a Pickle," an article about the sport Pickleball. Three photographs are included with the article: 1) a man in motion on a court about to hit a ball with a paddle; 2) a close-up image of a person's hand holding a Pickleball paddle with a ball sitting on top of the paddle, which is resting atop a net; 3) a person on a court with the arms raised in the air with an excited expression on their face.
“CAUGHT IN A PICKLE,” Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI), February 24, 2008. From NewspaperArchive.

What is it exactly? Pickleball is played on a badminton court halved by a net with a plastic perforated ball and a paddle slightly larger than one used for ping-pong. The game can be played as singles or doubles and is enjoyed by all ages and skill levels. Its popularity has grown perhaps due to its accessibility and decreased risk of injury as compared to other sports. Even here at the Library of Congress, we have seen an increase in the number of books written on the topic, and in 2019, Dewey Decimal catalogers determined there was an appropriate literary warrant for pickleball and created a new number: 796.348 Pickleball.

A page from a magazine with an article titled "A Passion for Pickleball." An accompanying photograph shows four people on a badminton court, two people on each side of the net, holding paddles and in motion playing the game Pickleball.
A passion for pickleball, by L. Jon Wertheim. Sports Illustrated, February 10, 1997. Retrieved from Sports Illustrated Vault online.

To find out more, check out these books on pickleball within the Library of Congress’s collections or ask for them at your local library:

  1. The Art of Pickleball: Techniques and Strategies for Everyone. Gale H. Leach. Phoenix, AZ: Acacia, 2005.
  2. History of Pickleball: 50 Years of Fun! Jennifer Lucore and Beverly Youngren. Oceanside, CA: Two Picklers Press, 2018.
  3. Pickleball. Martha London. Minneapolis, MN: SportsZone, 2020.





  1. While there was a family dog named Pickles from Bainbridge Island, owned by the Pritchard s, she was named after the sport (not the other way around).

    The story can be heard at the Bainbridge Island Museum, the birthplace of pickleball. It can also be found on Washington State Legislature’s website.

    Joel M Pritchard An Oral History, is a 444-page document compiled by former Sec of State Ralph Munro and has a complete profile on pickleball’s history.
    In Appendix C, page 402, The Genesis of Pickle-Ball, Joel Pritchard talks to interviewer Anne Kilgannon about the sport’s name.…/pritchard/pritchardfull.pdf

    So dear friends, you can be forgiven for getting it wrong because a reporter made the story up and lets face it a great story can get it’s shoes on faster than a less exciting one, but, now that you know all you people should tell the correct version of history, even if it means you have to correct yourselves. :)

    Let’s get history right!

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