In a new online feature, sport-centric publication Victory Journal takes a look back on Fast Eddie and the Boys, revisiting the excellent 1992 short documentary by Jerome Liebling, Roger Sherman and Buddy Squires. Presented as a further visual accompaniment to the Journal’s Issue Six cover story, the film focuses on a spritely bunch of Big Apple retirees living in Miami, who found the fountain of youth on the handball courts of Flamingo Park. Check out the short trailer – and extract from the article, “Tennis for Savages” written by Bud Schmeling, below – before heading over here to watch the 15-minute film. Trust us, you’ll be feeling good about it all day.
Flamingo Park [was] a recreation area built in 1950 and which served as an oasis for a tight-knit group of senior citizens who played handball everyday at its enclosed aqua-green painted courts. Rachel Liebling remembers “watching these remarkable elderly athletes, ensconced in the strenuous game through a thick, filthy plexiglass window [which] made the scene appear strangely dreamlike to me—like gazing at sharks in a tank.” Her father would return year after year to photograph these same players, always fascinated by their strength, tenacity and the ritual of the game. Jerome said, “My friend ‘Fast Eddie’ Libman played handball all his life—he was still playing vigorously when he was in his eighties. The men in these photographs still wear their bumper sneakers and handmade gloves. The finesse, comradeship and joy of the game are still very much there for them. They have become gladiators of a sort, embodying all the valor that a life of physical movement, sweat and great savvy bring to age.” When asked what it was like to be there at the time and now reflect on the images, Rachel thoughtfully replies: “My father was in his fifties when he first photographed the handball players. He was in his prime – still invincible, not yet contending with physical ordeals that age would bring. He was rapt by the strength of these athletic men, a generation older than himself, who defied the inexorable march of time by outsmarting it on the handball courts. The elderly players kept mortality at bay by physically wrestling against it. My dad kept mortality at bay by grappling with it through his camera lens.”