Bainbridge Island Pickleball History: A look at where pickleball began

Bainbridge Island Pickleball history on full display

In a display of pride, Bainbridge Island and the Bainbridge Island Pickleball Community has commemorated its resident’s achievements and taken it’s place in pickleball history as the birthplace of pickleball.  

Bainbridge Island Pickleball Pilgrimage: to where it all began

We had the opportunity to be in the Pacific Northwest recently and couldn’t pass up the chance to visit the place where it all began.  In a very circuitous route, when we landed we drove over to the Olympic Peninsula via Tacoma, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.  Stopping by our favorite Nordic town, Poulsbo, for a coffee, we continued on to Bainbridge Island via the Agate Pass Bridge.

Pickleball Founders Courts at Battle Point Park

We were delighted to learn that the community had honored the founding fathers of pickleball a display at one of their parks.  The installation consisted of well maintained pickleball courts, a nice entrance sign, and a walking tour with placards telling the story of the history of pickleball.

History of Pickleball according to Founders Courts

Bainbridge Island pickleball history was documented on the above signage at Founders Courts by the Bainbridge Island Pickleball Community.  This is briefly what they say:

  • In 1965, Barney McCallum, Joel Pritchard, and Bill Bell created pickleball.
  • According to Barney McCallum, the great thing about pickleball is the good balance between offense and defense.
  • Joel Pritchard was a U.S. Congressman and Washington State Lieutenant Governor but according to family he was most proud of the game as an accomplishment.
  • Bill Bell is the one most responsible for pickleball’s unique rules. He developed the concept of the non-volley zone (or “the kitchen”) and the double-bounce rule.
  • In 1976, the first known pickleball tournament was held in Tukwila, Washington.
  • The USPA (USA Pickleball Association) was formed in 1984 to help advance and grow the sport across the nation.
  • By it’s 50th anniversary, it was estimated there were almost 2.5 million players in the U.S. 

Bainbridge Island and Eagle Harbor

While it was a typical drizzly winter day, there were still diehards out enjoying a pick-up game. After enjoying a stroll through the park and even taking a longer walk along the multi-use path that runs through the park and beyond, it was about lunchtime.  Heading into town, which was quite busy on this Sunday. If this is what winter is like, I can only imagine how packed it gets in the summer.  The town is quite lovely with cafes, small shops,  restaurants, performing arts center, a history museum, and a Museum of Art.  After enjoying a lovely bite to eat, it was time to head back to reality.

Bainbridge Island Ferry

Needed to catch the ferry to Seattle to continue on our trip.  It had been a long time since riding a ferry, and this one while cold was still delightful.

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