HALL OF FAME
"PROMOTER OF THE GAME"!!
SOL LIPKIN was inducted to the National Shuffleboard Hall of Fame
(NSHF, later renamed TSA - Table Shuffleboard Association's National
Shuffleboard Hall of Fame) on his 90th birthday!! The following Sol Lipkin history and pictures
were published in "The Board Talk," Volume 13, No. 7, July 1996 and it is
quite some story with lots of shuffleboard history!! Sol was with the
American Shuffleboard Company (later American International Shuffleboard
Corporation) for several decades and was still involved in the
business at the age of 90 when he was inducted into the NSHF in May 1996!!
"In May 1996, Sol Lipkin became the first person inducted into the
National Shuffleboard Hall of Fame as a "promoter" of the game. The news
was announced at a special celebration of Sol's 90th birthday. Family,
friends, and associates from The World of Shuffleboard were on hand
to honor Sol and celebrate his long and successful career.
The petition for Sol's induction was submitted to the NSHF Board
of Directors by Phil Skover and John McDermott of The Shuffleboard Federation,
Inc., and was supported by many fans and business associates from companies such as
Triple Crown, Playfair, Gametime, Sun Glo, RePlay, Play Meter, Dave and
Busters', and The Board Talk.
According to his son Bruce and others who knew Sol, his primary
motivation has always been love of the game of shuffleboard. The financial
compensation was not large and the personal hardships he endured being on the
road so much of the time is evidence that Sol truly cared about the sport.
In the '30s, he started his long career in shuffleboard as a salesperson
for the National Shuffleboard Company, then became a representative for the
American Shuffleboard Company. Competition between the shuffleboard
manufacturers (National, American, Modern, Rockola, Vallley, etc.) was
intense then and many believe Sol established American Boards as the
He was first introduced to table shuffleboard in a church basement.
"There was a time," he said, "when churches and exclusive hotels that
catered to the rich were the only places that offered shuffleboard. It wasn't
until the early '30s when taverns were dying despite 5-cent beer and free
food, that boards were purchased with a small down payment and smaller
weekly payments, to attract customers during the Depression." Sol admits to
eating his share of the free food as he set up those deals!
During the '50s, Sol traveled the country selling boards, running
tournaments, and setting up distributorships. In 1950, he staged a
tournament in Illinois involving 574 teams from 14 states. He placed 12 boards
in a rented, newly-built armory and used the services of an American Bowling
Congress official to run the tournament. Why bowling? "We knew in order for
it to click, we'd have to run it on frames -- 10 frames, five on each
end," Sol said. And click it did. The single elimination, best 4 out of
7 tournament, started on a Friday and ended by 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Illinois Gov. Adlai Stevenson (later a presidential contender) wrote
a letter to Sol expressing his regrets that gubernatorial duties prevented
him from attending this big tournament.
The pot for this big event was $2,500 to be split among the top eight
teams, with $750 for first place, plus a new shuffleboard for the tavern owner
who sponsored the winning team. It took tight organization to make this
event involving 574 teams happen, including hiring young people for $1.50/hour
to post scores, verified by judges, on large scoreboards at the end of each
board. Sol appointed a five-member grievance committee made up of well-known,
highly respected people in Illinois shuffleboard circles, but, he remembers,
"We never had a dispute."
It wasn't just taverns where Sol promoted the sport and American
shuffleboards. Churches, Salvation Army cneters, the military, senior
citizens, colleges, boys' clubs -- were on the American customer lists.
During World War II, WACS, WAVES, and others in the armed services
learned to love shuffleboard thanks, in large, to Sol's efforts.
A special challenge faced by Sol and other ASC staff during the '60s
was installing a shuffleboard in Polaris submarine "down the hatch on a torpedo
rack." During the long periods underwater, the sport of shuffleboard
helped ease the stress of servicement and provided exciting tournament
play. The event could well be recorded as the first underwater shuffleboard
tournament in history! ASC also placed shuffleboards in the recreation
cetner at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
Sol has always been actively involved in shuffleboard league organization
and support and was instrumental in writing of the American Shuffleboard
Rule Book, one of the most widely-referenced rule books even today.
Although he was the architect of the book, he realized it was out of date by
the time the sport was undergoing a "revival" in the '80s and '90s.
Despite refusal of his employers to allow The Shuffleboard Federation to
update the book, Sol went ahead and gave permission and took personal
responsibility for doing so.
Sol has always been generous with his knowledge, expertise, and
resources with others in The World of Shuffleboard. Two new entities born in
the '80s -- The Board Talk and The Shuffleboard Federation, Inc., credit
Sol's unwavering support with their "survival," sometimes against what
seemed insurmountable odds.
In 1987, Sol was presented with a "Pioneer Award" from Bill Moore
of Texas, and in 1992, he received a "Lifetime Achievement Award" from The
Shuffleboard Federation. The Federation also established a "Sol Lipkin
Award" (Click Here to read about SOL LIPKIN
AWARDs) presented to individuals as a symbol of utmost respect for
"extraordinary contributions to the advancement of shuffleboard."
Just because Sol has reached his 90-year landmark doesn't mean
he's ready to put the "gone fishing" sign on his New Jersey door. His most
recent achievement was the successful negotiation and placement of shuffleboard
tables in "Dave and Buster's," a national chain of huge entertainment
complexes for the entire family in various metropolitan areas around the
country. The average location has five boards and attracts about 1 million
customers a year. The placement of boards in these places is a big step
in bringing exposure and recognition to shuffleboard to an entirely new and
very large audience.
He's also still involved in community service and recently sold the
most American Legion poppies in his area -- 543 at $1 a pop! Widowed for a
number of years now, he reports that he's "looking" (a healthy attitude for
As Sol told John McDermott: "Johnny (Sol's the only person who
dares to call him that), attitude is everything!!" (The Board Talk, Vol. 13,
No. 7, July 1996)
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