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Farewell to Pete Bostwick

Update Jul 13, 2022 (Article from the Albatross Magazine)
Published Jul 07, 2022

Pete Bostwick died on 7th July 2022. His wife had died a few days ago. There will be a joint celebration of life for Pete and Lili on 7th September

George H. "Pete" Bostwick, Jr., former world champion, died on 7 July 2022 at the age of eighty-seven. He was one of the greatest amateur athletes of the twentieth century.

Pete Bostwick first played Court Tennis in Aiken, where he grew up. In his thirties, he started playing Tennis regularly, both at the Racquet & Tennis Club and at Greentree. He was world champion between 1969 and 1972, winning the title twice: in 1969 he beat Frank Willis 11-8 and in 1970 he defeated his younger brother Jimmy, 7-1. In 1972, Jimmy beat Pete to claim the title.

One of the most laureled players in U.S. Court Tennis history, Bostwick won the U.S. Open singles in 1966, 1968 and 1971; the U.S. Open doubles (with Jimmy) in 1968, 1969 and 1970; the U.S. Amateur singles in 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969 and 1971; the U.S. Amateur doubles in 1969 and 1973 (with Jimmy) and in 1983 (with Ralph Howe); the U.S. Parent & Child in 1989 (with Peter, III); the U.S. 50s in singles in 1994; the U.S. 55 doubles from 1990 through 1998 and again 2000 and 2001 with three partners; and the U.S. 60s in singles 1995, 1996 and 1997. In the 1960s and 1970s, he served on the board of the USCTA. In 1994 Bostwick was inducted in the inaugural class into the International Court Tennis Hall of Fame.

Four World Champions - Wayne Davies, James F.C. Bostwick, George H. Bostwick, Jr. & Northrup R. Knox

Bostwick excelled in another half dozen other sports. He was an outstanding golfer and lawn tennis player and remains one of just three men to play in both sports’ U.S. national championship (in 1959 at Winged Foot he missed the cut by just three strokes; in 1952 he lost in the first round at the U.S. tennis nationals at Forest Hills). He twice won the Gold Racquets in Tennis and Rackets on the same weekend and won the U.S. Open in Rackets in 1969 and 1970. He was a highly ranked squash player and won three age-group national titles. In ice hockey he led the Middlebury team, tried out for the 1960 Olympic team and was a stalwart on the St. Nicholas squad for a quarter century.

Not only was he the ultimate athlete, but Pete Bostwick was the ultimate sportsman—enthusiastic, competitive and always prioritizing fair play.

James Zug

Over the course of his illustrious lifetime, Pete has been a legend at Real Tennis, Rackets, Tennis, Golf, Squash and Ice Hockey. The secret of his success? If you have good hand-eye coordination, you can learn to play all those games, but you never play them as you would if you stuck to one sport, Pete said at the time. I played four racquet games at a national level, but I think I could have played at a higher level if I stuck to one sport.

Pete and his younger brother, Jimmy, came from a family of athletes. Their father, Pete, a Hall of Fame polo player, jockey and champion horse trainer, was on six U.S. championship polo teams and was America's leading steeplechase rider from 1928-31, during which he rode in three British Grand Nationals. Their mother, Laura Curtis Bostwick, was an excellent rider and a fine golfer, who played in one US Women's Amateur. Great aunts, Harriot and Margaret Curtis, won four national championships in golf and founded the Curtis Cup matches, a biennial competition between the best women amateurs from the U.S. and a team from Great Britain & Ireland.

Throughout his life, Pete has been known as much for his character as for his athletic achievements. He never competed with aggression, but with relentless precision, perseverance, and a positive spirit, along with impeccable sportsmanship.

Article from the Albatross Magazine

He could do it all

From court to course, Pete Bostwick Jr. made his mark by Bill Fields

G.H. “Pete” Bostwick Jr. was in his mid-80s when I met him a few years ago at his Long Island home, and despite a bunch of physical woes he was still regularly getting on a tennis court and a golf course. Despite Bostwick’s age and infirmities, underestimating what he could do with a racquet or a club would have been a mistake. He hadn’t forgotten what made him the sportsman that he was: always try to get better.

Bostwick, who died last week at 87, had a remarkable athletic life. In this age of specialization, his versatility—he excelled in multiple racquet sports, golf and hockey—stands out as example of what can be achieved if someone has the time, talent and tenacity. That he passed away as standout athletes from various sports got set to play in the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship in Nevada was fitting given how seamlessly he moved from one sport to another from childhood to old age.

Born into privilege—Pete was a great-grandson of Standard Oil founding partner Jabez Bostwick—he craved competition. “I played all those sports not because it was about winning but because I just loved it,” he told me when I interviewed him for a story in The Met Golfer.

But there was plenty of winning for Bostwick, who spent a lot of his formative years in Aiken, S.C., where his father, Pete Sr., who had been a leading polo player and steeplechase rider, trained horses.

Bostwick won 16 American championships in court tennis, was a three-time U.S. squash champion and a two-time U.S. Open racquets champion. A knack for knowing how to spin a ball in those games made him a crafty lawn tennis player as well.

“The fact that he played so many racquet sports allowed him to occasionally engage in some ‘creative cross-pollination’ by borrowing a shot from one sport while playing a different one,” Rob Dinerman wrote in “This often forced his opponent to deal with a shot he hadn’t previously been exposed to, a scenario which almost always worked to Bostwick’s advantage.”

At 18, in 1952, Bostwick competed in the U.S. National Championships of tennis at Forest Hills, the event that transitioned into the U.S. Open in 1968. In 1959 qualified for the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, missing the cut by three but bettering a young Jack Nicklaus by a stroke. Appearing in the U.S. national championships for tennis and golf put Bostwick in a tiny fraternity: The only other men to accomplish the tennis-golf double are Ellsworth Vines and Frank Conner.

An accurate hitter who hit plenty of fairways and greens, Bostwick came to golf naturally since his great-aunts were Hariot and Margaret Curtis, champion amateurs of the early 20th century and founders of the biennial Curtis Cup Match between the United States and Great Britain and Ireland. He got a strong foundation as a youngster through lessons with one of the most famous instructors of his era, Ernest Jones, who taught in a New York studio.

“He was all about swinging the clubhead from start to finish with your hands,” Bostwick recalled of Jones in The Met Golfer. “Hit the ball as hard as you possibly can as long as you don’t destroy the swing motion.”

Bostwick’s name frequently on the leaderboards of golf tournaments in the 1960s and 70s, and he won the 1964 Richardson Memorial, 1966 Travis Memorial and Long Island Amateur, 1968 Northeast Amateur, and Hochster Memorial (1968-69). With brother Jimmy, he claimed Anderson and Ike titles, prestigious two-man events in the Metropolitan New York area. Club championships? Bostwick won eight at National Golf Links of America, seven at Piping Rock Club and one at Seminole Golf Club, where he was an occasional playing companion of Ben Hogan as the legend prepared for the Masters. Surprisingly, for someone with such good touch and feel, putting could bedevil Bostwick, who tried croquet style before it was outlawed and sometimes utilized a long putter before there were many of them around.

Hockey became a focus for Bostwick when he began prep school in New Hampshire as a ninth grader. He went on to star in the sport for Middlebury College (as well as in tennis and golf) and played for Manhattan’s St. Nicholas amateur hockey club for a quarter century (1958-1983). Bostwick was skilled enough on the ice to be invited to try out for the 1960 U.S. Olympic hockey team and years later, when he was in his 40s, he remained good enough to scrimmage during pre-season with the New York Islanders of Bryan Trottier and Clark Gillies.

Few have been better at more sporting pursuits than Bostwick.

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