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In Orangeburg, a Club of Veteran Paddleballers

The latest summer recreation and sports in the area

The summer Patch season will showcase the Recreation Notebook each Friday. The College Sports Notebook will resume in September. Please continue to forward items of interest to Marc Maturo at marcmaturo@aol.com.

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Old paddle-ball players never die, they merely strap on a knee brace—or two—and convene at Independence Park in Orangeburg each and every Sunday morning, and sometimes on holidays, for another rousing battle against Father Time.

“I wasn’t born when they started,” quipped Ken Pardo of Orangeburg, who claims to be “in the 60s,” and is easily the youngest player among a close-knit, competitive group that throws one-liners at one another, and to anyone within earshot, as much as a cricket chirps at night.

“That guy over there, he’s got an obnoxious personality, always something negative, but that doesn’t take away from his game,” says 83-year-old Orangeburg resident Sol Amon, pointing to a fairly robust regular with a hard serve and a vicious shot, who gentlemanly requests to remain anonymous to an “outsider” poking around for a story. “Ken’s good, too; there’s no game if they aren’t playing.”

But don’t tell that to a determined, pugnacious Henry Strauss of Tappan, who gamely continues to wield the paddle even with a replacement hip, and who is sometimes seen to have trouble walking due to a balky knee and who knows how many other aches and ailments.

An insatiable stock-market enthusiast—penny stocks included--who has been said to “gamble more than he invests,” Strauss typifies a crew that refuses to yield to age. The crew, however, has diminished greatly from when first formed—due more not to death and injury (although they occur, sadly) but to six paddle ball courts that have seen better days, to put it mildly, especially when compared to four nearby tennis courts that are well-maintained.

“When we first started, oh, about 40 years ago, the courts were all taken at one time,” Amon, a retired businessman, laments. “But the courts got bad, and a lot of players went to Viola Park in Monsey; they won’t come here—it’s too messy. The tennis courts (at Independence Park) are perfect, not nothing’s been done to these (paddle ball) courts.”

Still, the old-timers push on, much to the amusement of one blue-chip stock veteran who eschews penny stocks with a passion, and who does not take part in any of the paddle ball sessions. Unlike the newest member Lenny Schwartz of Spring Valley, who is approaching 90 and still paddling, Marshall Gilbert of Palisades, an artist and non-practicing attorney, prefers to challenge Strauss and other practitioners of the verbal arts at a morning breakfast convention that features a bevy of non-players with opinions on any topic that comes their collective way.

Gilbert—an octogenarian, what else?—is no shrinking violet when he’s asked about the safety of the old-timers pushing their physical, and mental limits for nothing but the fun of it, and perhaps only to feed their unbridled egos.

“I tell Henry you’re going to drop dead,” bristles Gilbert, who is often seen carrying the Wall Street Journal rather than a racket. “They should have an ambulance parked outside! He can’t walk, he’s 82-years-old!”

“Actually, I’m 81,” counters a bearded, strangely sheepish Strauss, who made his mark as a meatworker. “What better way to go than this (playing paddle ball).”

The show goes on, each and every Sunday, around 8:30 a.m.

“We’d love to have more people come, of course,” adds Amon. “The courts are here--even in such bad shape, and maybe that’s why we don’t get more people. But we welcome newcomers, of any age.”

Arthur Yorkes of Orangeburg, a mere lad at 75, is another regular who has been playing at Independence Park ever since the crew was formed.

He also recognizes that the paddle courts have been neglected.

“The number of the players has dissipated,” offers Yorkes. “At one time all the courts would be filled, and there would be another 12 players waiting to get on. The game is sort of dying out, and the (ragged) courts could be one of the reasons.”

Strauss would also love to play on resurfaced courts, but he will continue to fight the good fight. He notes that the game allows him to release whatever aggressiveness he has left in his body, and Audrey Yorkes—Arthur’s wife of some 53 years—quickly agrees.

“I think it’s great for him, wonderful, and it gets out their aggression. I’m all for it, no question,” Audrey added.

Yorkes the player, who still commutes to Manhattan where he runs his own CPA firm, Arthur Yorkes & Co., promises he will keep running out there every Sunday “as long as my knees hold out.”

Asked how his knees were doing, Yorkes had a quick riposte: “I wear a brace, but everybody wears a brace!”

Yorkes also tries to stay in shape with weekly games of round-robin tennis each Saturday at Nyack Field Club, where he has played the last 15 years. Tennis, he said, is more difficult than paddle ball—for him.

“Look, I started tennis at age 60, and muscle memory is not the same as when you are 30,” said Yorkes, who has about 40 years of muscle memory going for him in paddle ball, with the end nowhere in sight.

Paddle ball, anyone?

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Kivlehan picks up MVP honor in first pro season

Former Rutgers University standout Patrick Kivlehan of West Nyack, who was the Player of the Year in the Big East as a senior in his only year playing college baseball, will lead the Everett AquaSox into the Northwest League playoffs next week as the circuit’s Most Valuable Player honoree.

The AquaSox, who won the league’s West Division first-half championship, open play on Monday in a best-of-three series against a team to be determined. Game 1 is scheduled on the road on Monday, but Game 2 on Tuesday and Game 3 on Wednesday, if necessary, are scheduled at Everett (WA) Memorial Stadium.

Kivlelan is joined on the All-Star roster by teammates Taylor Ard, a first baseman, and catcher Mike Zunino on the Seattle Mariners’ minor-league affiliate in Everett.

Kivlehan, a third baseman, is tied for the league lead in homers with 11 and is ranked third in both runs (43) and RBI (47). The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder also has 13 steals, tied for fifth in the league.

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This and that

  • The Nyack Rotary, which annually awards six $1,000 scholarships to Nyack HS seniors who meet a criteria of academic excellence and community service, this year honored Emily Kassel Cea, Rachel and Amanda Goldstein, Maria Henry, Kevin Viviano and Andrew Gates. The presentations were made by Rotary President Earl Miller, and Roberta Zampolin, scholarship chair.
  • Athletes who have advanced to a higher level of play might consider examining Travel Sports News here. The site is geared towards players, coaches and parents, where discussions are held on everything from youth sports to adult league sports. It is—they maintain—a one-stop shop to search for players, teams, book scrimmages and post tournaments, among other benefits.
  • Registration for Dutchmen Flag Football, a non-contact endeavor for students entering third through eighth grades, is ongoing and open to students of all school districts. Play is scheduled on Saturdays from Sept. 8 through Nov. 3 at Cottage Lane Elementary in Blauvelt. To register call 845-323-9080. Practices are held one per week. The program is conducted by Tappan Zee HS coaches Andy DiDomenico--who has brought the Dutchmen back to a high level in regular Section 1 competition--along with assistants Dan Linehan and Ralph Ianucci.
  • The Rockland Boulders (46-51) wrap up the regular Can-Am League season with a three day Fan Appreciation Weekend series against the American Association’s Lincoln SaltDogs from September 1-3. Suffern native Ryan Mollica has 25 doubles, second-best in the league while outfielder Keith Brachold leads the league in homers (27) and RBI (76). Pitcher Bobby Blevins of Briarcliff Manor ranks fourth in the league with a 3.75 ERA. For Information, call 845-364-0009, or visit the box office.
  • The Shriners Circus (www.KlownKlub.org) is coming to German Masonic Park (120 Western Highway, Tappan) on Sept. 21-23. The opening at 11 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 21 is free, but there is a night session at 6:30 p.m. with a charge of $15 for adults. $13 seniors, $7 children 12-and-under, and no charge for toddlers under the age of 2. The show continues at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Sept. 22, with shows at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 23.0Children 13-and-under who are inclined towards baseball, and are willing to commit to three-to-four travel tournaments in the tri-state area, can try out for the Orangetown Mustangs, a fall weekend tournament team. Tryouts will be held right after Labor Day at a time and place to be determined. For more information please email mhghotel@aol.com, or call 845-461-3263.
  • Twin brothers Justin and Drew Daniels of Suffern will not return to the Northeastern University hockey team for their senior seasons. Both skaters have opted to pursue a professional career on the ice.
  • Concordia College in Bronxville has been selected as the favorite according to a vote by the women’s tennis head coaches in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) preseason poll. The Clippers, who received 80 points and eight first-place votes, returns a pair of all-CACC selections in Yuliya Plevako of Astana, Kazakhstan, and Ana S. O. Mendes of Rio de Janiero, Brazil. Concordia, which went 8-0 in the conference in 2011, and 11-2 overall, was ranked No. 45 in the final NCAA Division II national rankings and No. 2 in the NCAA East Regional poll.
  • Manhattan College women’s lacrosse assistant coach Courtney Burhans has accepted the head coaching position at Manhattanville College in Purchase after one season with the Jaspers. It is the first head coaching job in her career after spending two years as an assistant with two schools.
  • The Ivy Sports Symposium will be held at Columbia University in New York in November; they are looking for nominations from around the world of young professionals who are excelling in the business of sport who are under 30…nomination info and other details can be found here.

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