Allison Danzig

Allison Danzig

Class of 1968

Contributor

Citizenship: USA Born: February 27, 1898 in Waco, Texas, United States Died: January 27, 1987

Writing on a portable typewriter in cramped press boxes throughout the world, venerable scribe Allison Danzig holds the distinction of being the first journalist inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Danzig wrote about college football, rowing, and squash, but he was the first to concentrate solely on Real, or Court tennis, the forerunner to modern tennis. His singular attention to tennis earned him aficionado status and rightful stature on how all tennis writers are measured. Danzig earned this distinction as the tennis beat writer for the New York Times from 1923 to 1968.

Hailing from Waco, Texas, Danzig came east to earn his college degree, graduating from Cornell University in 1921. He had a brief stint writing for the Brooklyn Eagle (1921-23) before heading cross town to the New York Times. Danzig was a snappy dresser, working his craft in a suit and tie. He’d take copious notes on an envelope or a scrap and paper and because of his penchant for thoroughness and stylish prose, he was known as "the last man out of the press box." Friends called him Al or Danny.

Danzig was a chief practitioner of an effusive style of tennis writing.  His description of the 1927 Lacoste-Tilden U.S. National Men's Singles Championship match: "A gallery of 14,000 spectators... looked down upon this terrific struggle, and at the end it knew that it had been privileged to see one of the most ennobling fights a former champion ever made to regain his crown, Tilden, in the years of his most ruthless sway, was never a more majestic figure, never played more upon the heartstrings of a gallery than he did yesterday as he gave the last ounce of his superb physique to break through a defense that was as enduring as rock, and failed; he failed because youth stood in the balance against him—youth in the person of an untiring sphinx that was as deadly as fate in the uncanny perfection of his control, who assimilated the giant Tilden’s murderous swipes and cannonball serves as though they were mere pat balls and who made such incredible saves as to have broken the spirit on nine men out of ten."

Danzig's talents were recognized by Columbia University, which established the Allison Danzig Cup, given to the winner of the annual Columbia-Cornell tennis matches and also by the Longwood Cricket Club in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts which created an Allison Danzig Award for distinguished tennis writing. The Nassau Country Club established the Danzig Trophy for Sportsmanship.

Danzig authored several books on tennis, including The Racquet Game (1930) and The Fireside Book of Tennis (1972). He is often credited with coining the term "ace" to describe a serve in which the opposing player fails to get their racket on the ball.

"Danzig's opinion on the quality of a match had the imprimatur of a theatre critic," said esteemed journalist Gene Scott.

Fun Facts

  • His sister, Evelyn Danzig, wrote the music for the 1940s hit song "Scarlet Ribbons."
  • Danzig co-edited Cornell University's The Daily Sun with Charlotte's Web author E.B. White.