Bud Muehleisen

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Bud Muehleisen is known for his successful paddleball career and helping to boost the popularity of racquetball. He played left-handed, which most players are not, earning him visual memory in racquetball fans' minds. In 1974, Muehleisen was inducted into the Racquetball Hall of Fame, one year after it opened, and was first to do so. He is considered a top player in both racquetball and paddleball. He was instrumental in creating the allure that racquetball has today, the game it had been, and the height of interest in the game. He also served seven years as chairman of the rules committee for the IRA directors board and became the first player to hold the post. He was instrumental in forming the rules used today.

In 1962, Muehleisen became interested in paddleball. He was awarded four titles nationally and then picked up racquetball in 1969. He narrowly beat Charlie Brumfield to take the first national racquetball championship. He won 41 titles in his time. In 1980, he was included in a major sports museum located in San Diego, CA, the San Diego Hall of Champions. He holds so many age group titles nationally that in 1994 an award given every year to America's top age group player was named for him.

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Muehleisen first began playing tennis, which positively affected his swing. As an early proponent of other racket sports, he utilized the ground stroke from tennis for uses in other than tennis. He played badminton as well and then excelled in paddleball, undefeated for several years. Due to his four national titles and extreme notoriety for atypical racket sports, a paddle he used in championships is permanently displayed at sports department of the University of Michigan, where paddleball originated. He was the top player throughout the 60s. His reign came to an end at his final paddleball championship in 1968.

In January 1972 in Memphis, TN, Muehleisen played an infamous match against Paul Haber, who was, at that time, the most successful handball player in America. This was a groundbreaking move for the sport of racquetball, proving how it had built a reputation professionally. Haber played as he would handball, with his hand, but Muehleisen played with a racquetball racket. They played using a handball to a packed house with standing room only. Both players claimed to have an advantage; Haber due to the design of a handball being geared for being hit with the hand, and Muehleisen due to the power of the racket. Muehleisen took the first game, subsequently lost the second, and then lost the tie-breaker by a thin margin. There is still a video of the match with Haber's audible commentary. Muehleisen played Haber again in September 1972 and the game took place in Long Beach, California with Muehleisen again representing racquetball and Haber representing handball. Again, Muehleisen took the first game and Haber won the second, but Muehleisen took the third game this time, and ultimately the win.

Muehleisen regularly provided racquetball magazines with tutorial material. He also assisted major sporting gear manufacturers in creating racquetball gear. He was most notably instrumental in work with Ektelon, the first major racket manufacturer, still the top manufacturer, which is now run by Prince Sports. He is currently a San Diego dentist, and instead of racquetball, plays ping pong for fun .

Copyright Gary Moston 2009