Posts Tagged Rudy Kellerman

I Try Jai Alai

Rudy fires away

Rudy winds up again

One day last week less than two hours after an hour of Florida tennis, I met my friend Rudy who took me to the Miami Amateur Jai Alai fronton, where he plays 2-3 times a week. I have written about his sport before, and was determined to give it a try. Although the court is 90 feet long, which is half the length of a professional fronton, it looked pretty big to me.

Jeff, Justin and Rudy after their workout

This was a real challenge. Rudy warned me how difficult it would be. Before going on the court myself, I watched Rudy play for points with two of his buddies, Jeff and Justin. This gave me a first-hand look at what to do. It’s been years since I went to a fronton, where you bet on the pros, and the throws and catches are astonishing. You should see videos of how men climb the side wall or scoop up the pelota after it ricochets off the back wall before it hits the floor a second time. It’s all very artful, a kind of dance, unimaginably graceful. I will post some videos later.

learning to throw

When I first attempted to throw the ball (pelota), it came out of the curved basket (cesta) in unexpected directions: I’d aim for the front wall, but hit the floor or side wall instead. Sometimes I hit the padding at the bottom of the front wall.

Our cestas were used, but had been hand-made for professionals. They cost just $100, compared to a new one that’s priced at $1000 and is designed specifically for the player who ordered it.

My back-hand throw was more successful, maybe because two hands are involved. When I finally did reach the wall, Rudy was amazed and encouraging. He said no one he knows has ever been able to do that so quickly. There was a certain technique I had to acquire, and although I did it, my throws had no power…just like my middling tennis strokes.

hitting the wall was a challenge

Catching the pelota was even harder. You have to move the cesta rhythmically, like you’re catching a tossed egg, so it won’t break. Unfortunately, the ball kept bouncing out of the cesta, before I could swing to generate the centripetal force needed to keep the pelota directed towards the center. It takes a very precise, well-timed motion.

I sort of got it by the end of the session

After an hour of alternating throws and catches with Rudy—we never played for points—I was tired, drenched, and grateful that I hadn’t been hit by a pelota in my head. That could be deadly! On a full-size fronton, a professional can propel the ball 180 mph. And a regulation, rubber-core, string-wrapped, goat-skinned covered pelota is much harder, and bounces much higher, than the plastic variation that we were using.

I wish I could practice more often and play games. Maybe that will happen next time I visit Miami. Rudy showed his buddies a video he took of me throwing and catching, and they said it was amazing I could do as well as I did. I want to do it again. Rudy says I should go down to Miami mainly to play jai alai with him…but guess what? I just discovered that there is a year old jai alai court for amateurs ONLY 70 minutes away from my house! It’s in Berlin, CT and called CT Amateur Jai Alai. Here is the web site link . I have to go there…

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Rudy Kellerman Races His New Porsche

Rudy’s story about his Jai-Alai life was posted on August 31st, and a picture followed on October 30th. Now Rudy has bought a new car and written about his adventures driving at supersonic speeds.

Hey Ira,

I could not resist putting my new Porsche Carrera S on the track. This was last weekend, November 7-8, at Palm Beach International Raceway (PBIC, formerly called Moroso). Here I am in front of the much faster Porsche Turbo cars.

Rudy Kellerman Zooooooooms ahead of more powerful cars—11/7/09

Rudy Kellerman Zooooooooms ahead of more powerful cars—11/7/09

I have never been on this track before. I had just bought the car, as you know, and wanted to see how it handled. I joined the local Porsche Club of America (PCA). They hold events throughout the year for enthusiasts. The majority of the cars are Porsche. They are some vintage cars and some outright track cars such as the Porsche GT3.

In the beginning when they don’t know you, they assign you an instructor to guide you and show you the proper fast line. I have to say, I was very comfortable driving on the track and extracting the potential of a great handling car. You pull almost 1G when you go around the corners. And when you stomp on the brake after a long straight doing 140 mph, your eyes feel like they are going to pop out of your face.

Passing slower cars is allowed provided it is on the straights and the driver ahead of you gives you a signal. No passing on the curves for safety reason. It is not a race, but more of a driver’s education event. I had a great time until someone noticed that my tires had worn down to the cord. It was lots of fun, especially when you overtake a much more powerful car like the Porsche Turbo or the GT 3’s with your Carrera S. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jai-Alai Enthusiast Rudy Kellerman and His Buddies

Amateurs who love jai-alai can play at a half-size court (fronton) in Miami, and that is where Rudy Kellerman described his journey from teenage watching and betting to playing twice or thrice a week in his late 60’s. You can read his August 31st story below (, and he just sent in this picture with some of his fellow players:

Rudy Kellerman (center) with jai-alai friends—10/09

Rudy Kellerman (center) with jai-alai friends—10/09

Those yellow baskets, called cestas, catch and throw the ball (a pelota) against the front wall at speeds up to 180 miles an hour! You better duck when you play this game. And it is a fabulous workout, Rudy tells me…

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Rudy’s Muscles

When Rudy Kellerman is not playing jai alai (see his story on August 31st, he likes to do other things involving muscles…oops, I think he means mussels. He actually sent me this high-protein recipe:

Ira, I thought I would share my recipe for mussels with you. This is a quick and tasty meal, all protein. You can have it over a bed of pasta or on it’s own as a soup to dip your favorite bread. It should take you less than 15 minutes to make and you can impress your significant other. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rudy Kellerman’s New Lease On Life—Jai Alai

I find myself, yet again, sitting and waiting at the doctor’s office. It’s been nearly a year now of visiting doctors. I remember my parent’s routine, back in what they called their ‘golden years’. It consisted of going to the bank, attorneys and doctors. My wife, who is younger and in great shape no longer accompanies me on these medical visits. She tells me that I am a hypochondriac.

professional jai alai player

professional jai alai player

Three years ago we both began working out with trainers. After a year, I looked terrific. I could do 1000 jumping jacks broken up by sets of free weight lifting of over 100 lbs. I was looking and feeling great but always looked at training as a chore and a bore. You constantly get bombarded by society with the idea that exercising is the thing that one must do to maintain good health. Probably true enough but boring.

I started to notice I could no longer sleep on my right shoulder. I had terrible pain which was becoming increasingly worse, most likely stemming from old skiing injuries. The results of repeated falls skiing the black runs in Aspen during my youth had finally taken its toll. I stopped training and started with the cortisone shots that eventually led to a medical procedure to decompress the right shoulder. That was my first operation, save for the time that I had to have my finger reattached after a bad motorcycle accident. Not bad, I guess, for a 69 year old guy to have stayed out of hospitals for all these years. I had resigned myself to the fact that the extent of my active sporting life was going to be in rehab clinics. Soon I was off to the JCC pool to meet with an aqua therapist. Next I developed a painful new condition in my leg that eluded diagnosis for nearly a year. This led to appointments with a series of different medical specialists.

One day, having nothing to do while waiting to be seen by the latest Dr. of the month, I picked up a local newspaper. Leafing through it, I noticed an ad… “Free Jai Alai Lessons”. Wow! Jai Alai, a game that was so popular in South Florida back a half century ago. As teenagers back then, we would try to sneak into the ‘frontons’ where the pros played at night. These were the days when guys played football or baseball after school and rode bicycles as a form of transportation. Moms did not drive you to soccer games back then. There was no soccer and no SUV’s in those days. We did not stay home to play with electronic devices. We were lucky if our parents had a Hi FI or a Stereo. And we weren’t allowed to touch them. We were always outdoors playing sports or delivering the newspapers after school. It was a great life.

view of pro jai alai court

view of pro jai alai court

Some of us who had just gotten our license would borrow the family station wagon. We would all pile in and sneak into the ‘fronton’ to watch the professional Jai Alai players. Most of them were from the Basque country, a part of Spain. They played with their ‘cestas’, a wicker basket and hurled the ‘pelota’, a ball the size of a baseball and as hard as golf ball, against a granite wall at 180 miles an hour. It was played in an enormous indoor court 180 feet long. It was fun to watch not only for the exciting ‘partidos’ or games, but also for the chance to bet on the game and sneak a beer. Some of us went out and bought used cestas and played with a rubber ball on hand ball and racket ball courts. It was so much fun. It was an exotic and exciting game. The girls would come and watch us play after school against the wall of the local Catholic church.

Some of us got to be so good that we were invited to play amateur league in the regulation fronton where the pros played. Read the rest of this entry »

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