March 24, 2021

Unraveling the Fascinating Story: How Pickleball Truly Acquired Its Unique Name

Why Is It Called Pickleball?

The Origins of Pickleball: A Summer Creation on Bainbridge Island

The sport of pickleball was founded in the summer of 1965 by Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum on Bainbridge Island, Washington. It was during this time that Joan Pritchard, wife of Joel Pritchard, came up with the name "pickle ball." The name was inspired by the term "pickle boat," which referred to the leftover non-starters in crew races. However, a controversy arose in later years when some neighbors claimed that the game was actually named after the Pritchard family dog, Pickles. The Pritchard family maintained that the dog came along a few years later and was named after the game.

Unveiling the Truth: The Name Controversy Surrounding Pickleball

To resolve the debate about the origins of the name, it was essential to establish when the dog Pickles was born. As the official magazine of pickleball, a thorough investigation was conducted to uncover the truth. Dog records were examined, photographs were uncovered, and interviews were conducted with individuals present from 1965 to 1970. Based on the evidence gathered, it was determined that Pickles was born in 1968, three years after the game was created and named. Therefore, it can be concluded that the Pritchard family's account is accurate, and pickleball was not named after the dog but rather in reference to the local pickle boat races.

Investigating the Name Debate: Resolving the Origins of Pickleball

The summer of 1965 marked a significant moment for the creation of pickleball. Joel and Joan Pritchard, who resided in Seattle but spent their summers on Bainbridge Island, invited their friends Bill and Tina Bell to join them at their Bainbridge property. It was during a conversation between Joel and his son, Frank, that the idea of inventing a game came about. Frustrated by the lack of activities on the island, Frank challenged his father to create a game. Taking on the challenge, Joel and Bill went to the backyard badminton court and played the first game of pickleball, using a wiffle ball and improvised paddles.

The Summer of 1965: Inception and Early Development of Pickleball

The development of pickleball continued as broken paddles became an issue. Joel and Bill sought the assistance of Barney McCallum, a neighbor who lived six doors down on the beach and was skilled in crafting equipment. Barney became an integral part of the game, contributing to the improvement of paddles and helping shape the rules and formation of pickleball. It was during one summer day in 1965 that the decision to come up with a name for the game was made. Joan Pritchard suggested "Pickle Ball," drawing inspiration from the leftover rowers in "pickle boats" during local crew race competitions.

Joan's Inspiration: The Link Between "Pickle Ball" and Crew Races

Joan's connection to the name "pickle ball" stemmed from her upbringing and experiences with crew races. Having grown up in Marietta, Ohio, and attended Marietta College, where crew racing was prominent, she witnessed the races and the subsequent participation of non-starters in a fun-filled "pickle boat" race. With this background in mind, Joan saw the amalgamation of different elements in the new game, such as badminton, table tennis, and wiffle ball, and felt that "Pickle Ball" was a fitting name. The Pritchard family consistently referred to the game as Pickle Ball, later changed to pickleball.