“I drink almost a bottle of pickle juice every day, man, and it keeps me going great.”
– Vinnie Paul, (1964 – 2018). Drummer and co-founder of the heavy metal band Pantera
Human Interest/Jewish Satire
Where did Pickleball get its name?
Without seemingly undermining other credible stories about the origins of Pickleball, here’s a fascinating short story, that we republish with permission, from the book The Village of Little Pletzl-on-the-Zump. Enjoy!
Community ball games for seniors were an integral part of life for many of Pletzl’s citizens. It was said the game of Pökelpiłka was originally created by Yiddish-speaking seniors hundreds of years ago in the old country. They had become bored and lethargic with their solitary unfulfilled lifestyle. All their children and grandchildren had moved away from the family home. No one connected with them or visited them anymore. Social isolation set in, and all which was left were groups of Omas and Opas who sat facing each other at the local eating house nibbling on their favourite snack, the kosher dill pickle.
What was needed, as the grandparents discussed their situation, was something to keep them socially and cognitively engaged.
“Besides eating kosher dill pickles we need to create a game to challenge our physical and mental condition,” remarked one Opa. “Perhaps a ball game?” he added.
Over several months and with many trials, errors, and of course arguments, the seniors developed a ball game that in essence helped to improve their sense of purpose.
One creative Oma came up with a suitable name for the game. “Pökel”, is derived from the German meaning salt and brine, and “Piłka”, from the Polish word meaning ball.
Little Pletzl’s Pökelpiłka, as it became known – you dear reader, might know it by its English name, “Pickleball”, spread throughout the Yiddish-speaking eastern European communities and as the population spread westward, leagues and associations were formed in many cities.
Years later, one such league, exclusively for seniors, was established in Little Pletzl, where Pökelpiłka became the national sport of the village. Teams were formed through the auspices of the Little Pletzl Pökelpiłka Players Association and four indoor courts under one roof were built through a sizable donation, accompanied by a surrounding landscape. And for the first time in history, the courts were designated and named as having first-gender pronouns. Signs never seen before were installed. She/her/hers and he/him/his became the norm.
The structure was called The Zelda and Motti Pökelpiłka Sports Park. It gracefully faced the Pipidówka Pletzl Shul and the Zelda and Motti Playhouse.♦
Photo credits: Pickleball paddle by OvertAnalyzer; Aerial photo of pickleball courts in The Villages by TheVillagesFL. Publishing credit: Baronel Books, Toronto.
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