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Princeton and the birth of ultimate Frisbee

The game was created in a parking lot. In 1968, a group of kids from the high school newspaper in Maplewood, N.J., created a team game that used a Frisbee – mixing elements of soccer, football, and hockey – and called it the “ultimate” sport, or ultimate Frisbee.
A few years later, in another parking lot in New Brunswick, N.J., one of those high schoolers from Maplewood, Jonny Hines ’74, joined with friends from Princeton and Rutgers to play the new sport’s first intercollegiate match.
The turnout that day in November 1972 was remarkable, considering that ultimate was still unknown beyond a small network of high school and college students. About 1,000 spectators gathered on the sidelines, along with a reporter from The New York Times and sportscaster Jim Bouton, the former New York Yankee pitcher, who covered the game for New York’s ABC affiliate. Rutgers edged Princeton, 29-27.
i-bb0c52c0a7e2e4ab3f9882259058d459-UltimateFrisbee.jpg“We publicized it well, somewhat as a half-joke, but it was taken seriously,” said Hines, now a Moscow-based partner at an international law firm. “People were surprised to see it was a real sport – a fast-paced, athletic, competitive sport.”
Joel Silver, one of the sport’s co-founders and a Lafayette College student at the time, helped to promote the event. Silver would go on to produce movies, including The Matrix and Die Hard. The third co-founder, Bernard “Buzzy” Hellring ’74, had been a student at Princeton but was killed in a car accident during his freshman year.
In the decades since the game in New Brunswick, ultimate Frisbee has spread and grown at a remarkable rate, particularly on college campuses. Hines said his Frisbee-throwing days dwindled after Princeton, when he devoted his time to law school, his career, and his family, but he still takes some pride in being there at the beginning.
“I’m proud, it was fun, and still fun to think that I had such a part in it,” Hines said in an e-mail. “[But] I’m so absorbed in interesting work as an international lawyer (in New York and now in Russia) – work that’s really fascinating and influential – that I don’t really have time to stop to seek to bask in any such past ‘glories.’”
Read about other Princeton innovations and innovators in the Jan. 23 issue of PAW.
Above, Jonny Hines ’74, left, and Bernard “Buzzy” Hellring ’74 in a photo of the 1970 Columbia High School varsity Frisbee team. Photo by Mark Epstein, courtesy of “Ultimate: The First Four Decades,” www.ultimatehistory.com.

Names in the news

In a Jan. 21 story, The New York Times covered Kevin Gover ’78‘s challenging first months as director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. … The Newark Star-Ledger highlighted the musical compositions of the late Edward T. Cone, a longtime Princeton professor whose work was performed by the Princeton Symphony Orchestra Jan. 20. Cone’s musical executor, Jeffrey Farrington *75, is quoted in the story. … Physics World reported Jan. 18 that theoretical physicist Edward Witten *76 will receive the Crafoord Prize, which is given by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and recognizes fields not covered by the Nobel prizes. Witten is “widely regarded as the leading figure in the development of string theory,” according to the article.
A New York Times Magazine feature on Ben Bernanke recalled the Fed chairman’s years as a Princeton professor, drawing on interviews with former colleagues Alan Blinder ’67 and Burton Malkiel *64. … In a Jan. 21 opinion piece in Newsday, associate professor of politics and African American studies Melissa Harris-Lacewell argued that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton did a disservice to Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy by “openly disavowing the continuing importance of race in America” at a recent debate in Nevada. “King championed justice by fearlessly engaging racial inequality,” Harris-Lacewell wrote, “not by pretending it did not exist.”

Alumni anagrams, decoded

The Jan. 16 Weekly Blog included the names of six of the 26 people chosen by a PAW panel as Princeton’s “most influential alumni,” disguised in anagrams. The answers are listed below.

Indoor owls, wow! = Woodrow Wilson 1879
Banjo nerd, eh? = John Bardeen *36
Turnover tribe = Robert Venturi ’47 *50
Hippie funeral = Philip Freneau 1771
Landlords fumed = Donald Rumsfeld ’54
Harder plan = Ralph Nader ’55

More at PAW Online

Rally ’Round the Cannon – Gregg Lange ’70 provides a list of 10 Really Important Things that you can’t find on the Princeton Web site.
The salesman – Lud Gutmann ’55 recalls the day a scholarship student and his parents went to Langrock’s to pick out a suit for graduation.
Alumni connections – Four alumni are working together at the headquarters of John Edwards’ presidential campaign.
Working the crowd – Cushney Roberts ’76 gave up an engineering job to perform on the stage; his Motown and R&B tribute group tours the country and on cruise ships.

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