Sport: Off the Front Wall

The rubber balls buzzed like black bees. They slithered along the walls, caromed in crazy zigzags, whupped out of the corners at speeds over 50 m.p.h., or died on the floor in tiny, whirling bounces of reverse English. Flailing away with either hand, the scurrying players ricocheted shots off all four walls and the ceiling. At the staid Los Angeles Athletic Club, the ninth annual championship of the U.S. Handball Association was in full swing.

In principle, handball dates from the first time that a boy bounced a ball against a wall. Most authorities...

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