Magazine article Tablet Magazine

Dick Miles, Top Ping-Pong Player, Dies

Magazine article Tablet Magazine

Dick Miles, Top Ping-Pong Player, Dies

Article excerpt

Legendary American ping-pong player Dick Miles passed away earlier this month at 85. Miles appeared in Man Booker winner Harold Jacobson's profile of his longtime rival Marty Reisman (Miles was Jewish, as Reisman is), which Tablet Magazine published earlier this month. Miles won more men's U.S. table tennis championships than anyone else.

I called up Reisman to get his take on his longtime friend and rival. "He was as good as the best and unbeatable when in top form," he said. "The foundation of his game was an impenetrable, close-to-the-table defense, which imparted tremendous back-spin to the ball, taking the steam out of every aggressive player he faced with this never-before-seen paralyzing chop on both wings. He combined it with a crushing forehand attack delivered into the vulnerable gut of his opponent."

Reisman continued: "His forehand drive was a stroke of beauty with deadly effectiveness, a circular motion requiring such intricate timing that he had lost it by the time he was 25. I saw him make Richard Bergmann, a four-time world champion, break down and cry after the beating Miles gave him in 1949 before 10,000 spectators in Wembley Stadium."

Reisman further recalled the first time the two met:

The first time I saw Miles play was in 1943 at Lawrence's on Broadway and 54th Street, a speakeasy turned ping-pong parlor. He was only 17 and had not even won the first of his ten national titles. During a lull in his game, I leaped over the barrier, yanked out my personal 75-cent ping-pong paddle, and said, "Hey mister, hit a few shots with me. …

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