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JUST LIKE A GREEN BAY TREE
Pat Putnam
December 01, 1969
Handball's saintly statesmen felt that wickedness was indeed flourishing when swinger Paul Haber won the singles championship. Last weekend in Birmingham they tried hard to exorcise himself
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December 01, 1969

Just Like A Green Bay Tree

Handball's saintly statesmen felt that wickedness was indeed flourishing when swinger Paul Haber won the singles championship. Last weekend in Birmingham they tried hard to exorcise himself

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He was to play Singer, who had just won a tough match with Pat Kirby. "I'm afraid I've got to pick Haber," said Jimmy Jacobs, who exchanges no love with the champion. Jacobs had pulled a muscle in his left thigh and had to forfeit his second match. "Stuffy is just too nice a guy to be able to beat Paul. He's got just as much ability, but Haber is ruthless. What Stuffy has is integrity. He's steeped in integrity."

"What about Haber's personality?" someone asked.

"When Paul is in there, he's in a war. He hangs his emotional hat on that ball. It's all he has in life. Handball."

Stuffy Singer came by, and he and Jacobs went to lunch. "You can forget about me being a nice guy out there," said Singer. "It depends upon who you play. I won't be a nice guy against Paul."

Jacobs looked at Stuffy and sighed. "Look," he said, "I want to tell you something, and keep a blank mind. You've got to use a three-wall serve against Paul. That's what Kirby used, and he beat him their last six matches. One more thing—you haven't been playing the ball off glass too well. But none of us has. So you've got to play the ball down the left, to his weaker hand. You must not hit the ball down the right. And insist upon a referee who can't be intimidated. You know how Paul is, he has them frightened before he gets on the court."

"Don't worry," said Stuffy, "I'll beat him."

It began that way, with Singer building a 13-1 lead in the first game. But that soon passed. Haber won the first game 21-15, the second 21-8. He played brilliantly and ruthlessly; Singer had played only brilliantly.

"And you know what Stuffy did?" Haber complained a few minutes after the match ended, "he came off the court first and he stole all the Gatorade. I've got to get a drink."

He did. Beer, of course. And then a few more beers, and a few more, and finally, deep into the night, someone asked if he wasn't going to play the final the next day.

"Are you kidding," said Haber. "I'll be there even if I'm drunk. And it's still no contest."

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