Davey Bledsoe 3/7/51 – 12/29/19

Hall of Famer Bledsoe was 68. Photo via USRA Hall of Fame

The Racquetball world got sad news over the holiday weekend; former Men’s pro champ and Hall of Famer Davey Bledsoe has passed away.

Bledsoe was born in 1951 in Kingsport, TN. He was one of the earliest racquetball pros in the sport, playing half the events in the first pro season on record (1974-5), then was a full time touring pro until the 1980-1 season.

Here’s a link to Bledsoe’s Player Profile at ProracquetballStats.com, summarizing his pro singles career:

Bledsoe’s best pro season was the 1976-77 season, where he made the semis or better in 6 of the season’s 12 sanctioned events and finished the season ranked #2 on tour. More importantly, he won the 1977 DP/Leach National Championships over #1 Marty Hogan​, giving Hogan his sole loss on the season in a 21-20, 21-19 match. Pundits from the era called the match either the greatest match in history, the biggest upset in history … or both. See https://www.proracquetballstats.com/irt/greatest_upsets.html for a fun list of some of the biggest upsets in pro tour history. This win gave Bledsoe the year-end Pro title and he is in a rather exclusive club; only 15 men have ever won a pro title in the sport’s history and he’s one of them.

The PRS match report for this 1977 Nationals tourney is here http://rball.pro/9EC830 . And, If you want to see a fun recap of that 1977 Nationals event … surf to this youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaI-NgBK5Q4&t=4s . Feel free to mute the 70s disco music :-).

As you can see from the video, Bledsoe was tall and lanky, lots of court coverage and lots of emotion in his play. He survived a furious comeback in game two to take the National title over Hogan, who went on to win the next four National titles.

In his prime, Bledsoe also competed in the Outdoor Championships in California, taking the singles title in 1978 (also over Hogan in the final) and making the semis or finals in several other years in the 70s and early 80s.

Bledsoe was part of an interesting group in racquetball lore: the “Memphis Mafia,” a group of top players in the Memphis area who played with Elvis Presley at his Graceland home. In case you didn’t know … Presley was an avid racquetball enthusiast and had two courts constructed on the grounds of his home, where he played along with some of the top players in the game at the time. Bo Keeley wrote about the group well here: http://www.dailyspeculations.com/wordpress/?p=8674 . Its a fun side-note in American history.

Bledsoe retired from the pro tour after the 1980-81 season. He continued to play Amateur tournaments for years and claims 13 National amateur titles. He was inducted into the USAR Hall of Fame in 2010.

After his playing career ended, he began a career in Network Operations, working for major Telecom firms and for some Defense contractors in the DC area before retiring in Atlanta.

6 Replies to “Davey Bledsoe 3/7/51 – 12/29/19”

  1. Such a awesome Man.
    Great ambassador for the sport of racquetball.
    Rest in peace prayers for his family.

  2. I had the pleasure of playing with Davey back in the 70’s. He held a demonstration at a local racquetball club and said whoever scored the most point off of him would receive one his red wilson racquets. Luck was with me that day as i scored the most points off of him. However I was told by the club manager that I won’t receive a free racquet as it was for club members only. I saw Davey in the locker room a few minutes later and he asked if I received my racquet, I explained what I was told and he went to his bag and grabbed a new racquet, signed it and gave it to me and said I earned it. That’s the kind of guy he was.
    RIP Davey.

  3. So sad to just learn of Davey’s passing. He was a super fraternity brother at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Fantastic player even then!

  4. I grew up in Kingsport. I was alot younger than Davey, but he was one of the coaches in the Eastman baseball league one summer. Great guy, great athlete. Godspeed Davey!

  5. I remember him from my early days of racquetball out west. Nice guy and his meticulous & focused pre-match prep was amazing. Sad to hear of his passing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *