Franklin “Bud” Held--Racquetball’s Most Famous Innovator/Founder of the Longest Running Manufacturer in Racquetball-Ektelon
(Born October 25, 1927 in Los Angeles CA-88 years old)
Bud Held’s Famous Inventions and Sport Patents -
- Bud Held, the Javelin world record holder, created and patented the first hollow Javelin that was used in competition for years before it was outlawed by the governing body (1960’s).
- Bud Held invented one of the first patented designs for a new racquet stringing machines making a major advancement in racquet stringing technology for tennis and racquetball (1964).
- Bud Held invented the world’s first aluminum racquetball racquet called the “Bud Muehleisen” in 1969 after Dr. Bud Muehliesen met with him. Dr. Bud was well-known for gaining technological advantages so he enlisted Held to design a new racquet frame helping him defeat Charlie Brumfield at the first ‘69 Nationals. Charlie played the finals with a wooden racquet. "The Bud Muehleisen" model was a round-faced, silver anodized extruded aluminum racket that weighed in at 300 grams, almost twice the weight of a 2010 era racket. (Wikipedia).
- Held invented the world’s very first oversized racquet--“The Schmidtke XL” in 1970 or 1971.
- Held invented the sports best-selling, legendary racquet, “the Ektelon 250 G,” revolutionary for its lightweight, black design. “The History of Racquetball” stated, “Ektelon introduced the first hand-laid composite racket, the 250G, in 1978, giving birth to a sport and an industry.” (1978)
- In 1980, Held upended the sport again by developing the top-selling “CBK” racquet, a racquet named for its revolutionary material combination of carbon, boron and Kevlar (1980). -Bud Held invented the Magnum, CBK and 250G racquets--all top selling racquets in the sport. In 1984, Ektelon also developed the first oversized aluminum racket adding to his famous firsts.
Athletic Records Held By Bud Held -
Held won three NCAA javelin championships as part of the Stanford University Team (1948-50).
Held set six American javelin records, and in 1953 became the first American ever to hold a world record holder in the javelin with a throw of 263 feet and 10 inches (80.42 m). (1953)
Bud Held became the first athlete in the world to throw an 800 gram javelin over 80 meters. He set his second world record with a throw of 268 feet 2 inches (81.74 m) in 1955. And his career best throw in the javelin was 270 feet (82.30 m) in 1956. (1953-1956)
Bud Held won the Javelin Gold Medal at the Pan American Games held in Mexico City. (1955)
Bud Held’s Hall of Fame Inductions & Notables Racquetball Achievements -
Franklin “Bud” Held was inducted into the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame (1987).
Held was inducted into the USATF Masters Hall of Fame (US Track and Field). (2005).
Held was inducted into the University of Stanford Athletic Hall of Fame. (Year unknown)
Held was inducted into the San Diego Hall of Champions (Hall of Fame) (Year Unknown)
Held founded Ektelon—the longest running racquetball manufacturers. (1968)
Bud Held’s complete Wikipedia Page can be read at--https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bud_Held
Notable Quotes from Bud Held (interviews w/Brett Elkins in 2015/2016)-
“I was the world’s best javelin thrower from 1952-1956 and before I got hurt, I felt I had a good chance to win the Olympics.”
“We were the biggest racquetball company at that time; we were solely focused on the quality of the racquets; we were in the best sporting goods stores in the United States and a few stores oversees. Our company was heavily involved in the men’s and woman’s pro tour and I don’t know if we were the first to sponsor our countries top players, but we had many top pros including Lynn Adams, Dr. Bud Muehleisen, Bo Keely & Jerry Hilecher. Looking back, and it’s been a very long time ago, I think we did a very good job overall.”
“I received several patents including ones for our first stringing machines for both tennis and racquetball. I then created the very first aluminum racquetball racquet [patented in 1984 and used by Schmidke to win the 1984 National Racquetball Championships]. Dr. Bud Muehleisen came by to visit me and I was making racquets for tennis and we decided to create an experimental racquetball racquet and the first of its kind in the USA which he used later win the nationals in 1969. He became my first sponsored player and due to the quality of the racquet, many players kept asking to use the Dr. Bud Muehleisen racquet.“
“Dick Leach and I were the reason racquetball spread and went mainstream. We sponsored almost all of the top players, paid for tournaments, players and promotions. Sure he was a competitor and we didn’t always see eye to but without us, there wasn’t much to the sport of racquetball. “After working with Dr. Bud to create my first racquet, Charlie and Dr. Bud played with it and loved it. They won a tournament and the orders starting rolling in.”
“Later, I created the very first oversized racquet used in racquetball--the Schmidtke XL. Our best selling and most famous racquet was the 250G black fiberglass racquet and I can’t remember how many of those we sold, but we sold a lot of them.” “For many years, we were the industry’s leading selling manufacturers and I always focused on just creating the best racquets."
“Although I learned to play and competed in many tournaments, I was never a top player but I finished second one year in the National Masters.” “I don’t remember the exact year, but I sold the company to Browning the rifle manufacturers.” (Believed to be largest sale in our history).
Quotes about the legendary Bud Held-
“Bud was instrumental in establishing Ektelon, the first major racquetball racket manufacturer, a subsidiary of Prince Sports and still a leading manufacturer of rackets (Bo Keely, famous pro).
“Ektelon products have enjoyed the longest, most successful reign of dominance in the sport of racquetball. “(The history of racquetball). (He possibly may have sold the most racquets ever).
"Ektelon was founded by Bud Held in San Diego in 1964. It produced its first experimental metal racquet in 1970 for Dr. Bud Muelheisen. In 1972, they started mass producing the first aluminum racquet for racquetball and enjoyed a huge success. This racquet was the autograph model, 'Bud Muelheisen,' designed by Dr. Bud. Ektelon went on to be a leader in new racquet designs and manufacturing concepts for many years. I can still remember Bud Held running around at the IRA Nationals for many years, counting who was using an Ektelon racquet and estimating the percentage of national players using his racquets. At these early national events, it was always between 50% and 70% of the players using Ektelon.” (Randy Stafford)
“The first stringing machine, a table top model, was sold December 2, 1966, to California Western University for $50.00. Early in 1968, a three-year contract was made with Bancroft Sporting Goods Company for the exclusive distribution of Ektelon stringing machines. Shop space was rented in San Diego, and Held personally built the first five Model A stringing machines there, and shipped them to Bancroft on July 5, 1968. The first Ektelon employee was hired in the summer of 1968. (Ektelon’s Website).
“Founded by Bud Held in 1968 and based on the invention of a stringing machine for an aluminum tennis racquet, Ektelon has grown to become one of the two largest racquet manufacturers the United States. At present, their professional strength in the top twenty is seven; including #2 ranked David Peck, and #3 Mike Yellen. Most of the players involved in theNARP are Ektelon sponsored. Ektelon also has a massive amateur and juniors program, and their marketing techniques are decidedly different from those of Leach.” (Source unknown).
“After the [photo] shoot at the ‘68 Paddleball Natl Champions, tennis pro Ben Press came over and said, 'Remember Bud Held? Of course, I remembered Held from his Stanford tennis days-when I was at Cal. Held asked me if I would work with him to develop a Racquetball racquet from the Aluminum extrusion that he was holding in his hand. Ektelon was already up and running with his tennis racket stringing machine and the rest is History.” (Dr. Bud Muehleisen).
“Capitalizing on the phenomenal popularity of racquetball, in early 1969, Held fabricated the first experimental racquetball racquet for Bud Muehleisen, a top competitor in the sport. Muehleisen liked it so well that he asked for one for his doubles partner, Charlie Brumfield. Muehleisen and Brumfield won the National Invitational Doubles with those racquets, ensuring instant success for Ektelon racquetball racquets among the sport's tournament players. That summer, Ektelon moved to a larger facility and began manufacturing racquetball racquets in earnest. By 1971, Ektelon again expanded its space and had become a financial success with 16 employees. In October 1969, Ektelon was incorporated in the State of California. “(Ektelon Site)
“Bud Held absolutely deserves to be in every racquetball hall of fame. If you defined the word contributor that is Bud Held. He had more than enough money and grew racquetball solely for his love of the game.” (Dr. Bud Muelheisen)
“Bud Held was of World Record/Olympic renown in College when I witnessed him at a couple of intercollegiate Cal track meets. The Javelin event was held in the middle of the 440 yard track infield. When it was Bud’s turn to throw, they stopped all running event, because his throws would land in the outside lane of the track towards the football end zone. He has set all kinds of records in the Senior Olympic events and especially in the Pentathlon event. (Dr. Bud M.)
"They [Ektelon] applied for and received a patent for an oversize racquet. This in itself was a non-issue because the rules prohibited racquets in competition to be more than 27” combined length plus width. In 1984, they asked for a rule change allowing players to use oversize racquets in competition." (Charlie Drake)
“Bud Held could be ranked as one of the top 5 racquetball contributors of all time due to his many significant firsts, famous patents and innovations. Even more impressive is that he single handedly created the world’s largest racquetball company and did this during the famous glory days of racquetball. Almost all of his top sponsored players are in the indoor hall of fame. His major sponsorship for decades of tournaments/players allowed the famous early pros to enjoy a “career” and not just a “hobby. To my knowledge, never before (or after) has one person or company ever sold this many racquets which is testimate to inventor Bud Held.” (Brett Elkins, Chairman/Founder of the Outdoor Hall of Fame on why he nominated Held the Outdoor HOF).
Title of a Keely story that appeared in his Charlie Brumfield biography and of his books on the history of racquetball: “Ektelon-Leach: The Pioneer Racquet Companies.”