|SquashTalk> Rob Dinerman > Pete Bostwick Jr.: The Ultimate Amateur [last update was 24-dec-01]|
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STILL SWINGING AWAY
by Rob Dinerman
New York. August 12, 2001 (rev Sept 14) © 2001 Rob Dinerman for Squashtalk.com
In 1986, shortly after succeeding the legendary Bob Lehman, who for more than four decades had been single-handedly responsible for making the MSRA Annual Yearbook essentially the squash Bible, I began a series looking back at MSRA legends of the past, re-examining and paying tribute to their outstanding careers and updating the readership on "Where They Are Now."
But while Greenberg and Reese(both of whom were enormous fixtures in squash on both the regional and national fronts for more than a decade)cooperatively adapted to squash retirement, Bostwick spent several necessary recuperative seasons on the sidelines and then returned in time to play in the '90 55-and-over Nationals in Rochester, where he reached the final and thus began a streak during which he played in 11 consecutive Nationals, reaching the finals of both the 55's and the 65's, while also winning the National '55's and 60's singles crown and 11 out of 12 National 55's Doubles titles in the sport of court tennis, in which exacting discipline he had won both the National Open and amateur championships several decades earlier.
READY FOR THE 01-02 SEASON
As should be evident from the foregoing, Pete is one of the most multi-talented racquet and all-around athletes of his (highly extended) era, having won several dozen national titles in court tennis, tennis, hard racquets and squash over a period of five decades of nearly constant competitive play.
GOLF AND HOCKEY DAYS
By playing in the U.S. Amateur championships(the forbear of the U. S. Open)at Forest Hills in '52 and later qualifying for and competing in the '59 golf U. S. Open at Winged Foot, he became one of only three men(Ellsworth Vines and Frank Conner being the others)to play in the Open championships in both of these sports; in fact Bostwick's two-round total of 153 at Winged Foot, while missing the cut by three strokes, was actually one shot better than the score posted by Jack Nicklaus, who would win the U.S. Amateur title a few weeks later and thereby launch what would become a truly legendary career in that sport.
By accomplishing this trifecta, Bostwick became one of only three men(accompanied by Ralph Howe and Dick Squires)to win National championships in three different racquet sports -- and both Howe and Squires depended on a doubles title in at least one of their three sports to qualify for this elite list.
In fact, Bostwick's exposure to and success in such a plethora of sports, which poses a hindrance for many competitors(due to the difficulty of navigating the often minor but always present tactical and stroking differences between these games) actually became an advantage for Pete, who often "cross-pollinates" i. e. uses a tactic from one racquet game while playing another, thereby confusing an opponent unaccustomed to the unfamiliar ploy confronting him.
This rare ability to convert a potential hindrance into an advantage is not just confined to his drawing on a diverse racquet background while molding a squash arsenal; when Bostwick's hip problems cut sharply into his mobility, he reacted both by sharpening up an already potent short game and by becoming better than he had ever previously been at anticipating what shot an opponent was about to hit.
LATE SQUASH BLOOMER
As late as '77, at the age of 42, he recorded a top-15 national men's ranking while for nearly two decades playing a major role on the highly successful Racquet and Tennis A Team, for which he won a crucial match in the '81 play-off finals in five games against a much younger and stronger opponent to help clinch another league title. After the 1974-75 season, during which he won his first age-group National squash championship, the MSRA awarded him the coveted Eddie Standing Trophy "For Sportsmanship Combined With Excellence In Play."
The latter's proficiency in and devotion to his chosen sport remained literally to the last moment of his life; in January of '82, while riding out for the final period of a close polo match, the 72-year-old Bostwick suffered a massive heart attack and died almost immediately, slumping forward onto the neck of but(apocryphal-sounding but actually true)never falling off his beloved mount, a testimony to the bond the two had formed over their many years of collaboration and (as family members noted once they had recovered from their shock)a poetically appropriate ending to a wondrous and very fulfilling life.
There are athletic genes on Pete's mother's side as well, particularly in the accomplishments of his two great-aunts, the Curtis sisters, Margaret and Harriet, who between them won a total of four national amateur golf championships(playing eachother in fact in the finals one year), with Margaret adding a national amateur tennis title as well. The annual United States-vs.-England amateur women's team golf competition, the female counterpart to the Walker Cup, was named the Curtis Cup as a tribute to the mark they made upon the sport.
As befits a legacy of this magnitude, and however low-key their acknowledgement of this phenomenon, the Bostwicks are a family that think dynastically, at least as far as sports(racquet sports in particular)are concerned, and it is therefore not surprising that a number of Pete's children have made their own mark, sometimes with the partnership of their famous father. His only son(another Pete), also played for the R & T A Team, also played hockey for St. Nick's(even also had hip problems), while serving as MSRA President in the late 80's, winning the Big Apple Open in '86 and collaborating in the winning of the national father-son court tennis doubles championship in 1989.
Oldest daughter Catherine(better known as Cackie), a basketball, field hockey and tennis legend at Pete's alma mater St. Pauls, was thought at one time to be the most talented racquet athlete in the entire family, reaching in fact the final of the Women's Squash Intercollegiates in '77(as a freshman, and in her first year of squash!) before a severe knee injury the following year abruptly truncated what had to that point been a meteoric rise in several racquet sports.
Though the recovery process from such a searing mishap was slow and frustrating, she has recovered enough to co-earn the father-daughter No. 7 national senior tennis ranking, with the pair winning a number of Mixed Doubles tournaments in the Locust Valley part of northern Long Island, where Pete lives and where he worked as a principal of a successful brokerage firm until his retirement six years ago.
Another daughter, Janet, is the assistant squash pro at the same Apawamis Club in Rye, NY where Pete enjoyed some of his greatest squash achievements three decades ago, while the fourth child, Lilly, is a solid squash and tennis player at Piping Rock, the Long Island club to which the family has belonged for several decades. There are as well a total of eleven grandchildren, many of whom will doubtless be eager to carry the family banner in the years to come.
Notwithstanding the sheer statistical measurements of the tally of titles, records and rankings comprising the swollen resume of this remarkable sportsman, probably Pete's most striking and enduring characteristic is the continuing eagerness and enthusiasm he exudes for the games he is constantly playing.
STILL SWINGING AWAY
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