THE LEGENDARY BRUM
TOOK CENTER STAGE
By Lou Giampetroni
BLOOMINGDALE, ILL. -- Charlie Brumfield is getting along in years but he still exudes all the charm and magnetism that in the past made him a national paddleball champion and earned him the ranking as the No. 1 racquetball player in the country.
And the distinction of being one of the top entertainers in any sport.
Brumfield, 55, of San Diego -- the leader of the Paddleball Nation, a group of West Coast paddleballers -- showed it all as he teamed with Mike Wisniewski to win the 2004 national seniors doubles championship for players at least 35 at the Athletic Club of Bloomingdale, a suburb of Chicago, on April 25.
And he did it with an aching back. It was fairly obvious it was giving him trouble and there was talk that he might not be able to play in the seniors final.
But he did and he and Whiz topped Ron Malecki and Mike Schafer, 21-16, 21-12.
It's an overused cliché but Brumfield definitely was "da man" in this one.
He ran, he shot, he dove -- and was on the floor more times than the other three players put together!
And all the while, it was the Brum shouting after a point or a great get or shot by Wisniewski. But many times, he exhorted his partner to give a little more.
"Come on, let's go," was Brumfield's appeal to Whiz on many occasions.
Then Brumfield would dive for a shot and, more often than not, fail to return the ball. But the mere fact that he hit the floor so often indicates the tremendous desire that's been his trademark.
There were a few other Brumfield remarks that were X-rated.
Generally, Brumfield would drive or lob the ball to the left rear corner. But he was highly effective in scoring points with a strong pass shot along the right wall.
In the first game, he and Whiz trailed, 16-14, when Brumfield hit two rollout kills to force side out. Then he and Whiz scored seven unanswered points to win it.
They took a 10-3 lead in the second and were never trailed as Malecki-Schafer could reduce the margin to only four points.
Brumfield learned the night before the championship match that he is the 2004 recipient of the Earl Riskey Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the person who has contributed the most to paddleball.
He won two NPA national singles crowns in the late 1960s.
At the National Singles five weeks ago and the National Doubles, Brumfield held court as he always seemed to have someone around him -- and they were all listening.
He also is the star of a newly-produced DVD on paddleball, regaling his audience with past exploits and heroics. He is a master storyteller. A listener can almost conjure up his own visuals.
By the way, that word -- regales -- is an appropriate one. I looked it up in the dictionary: "to entertain sumptuously; to give pleasure or amusement to."
That's what Charlie Brumfield does.