Pickleball may be sport with a funny name. But, where did the name “pickleball” come from?
There are a couple of theories on how the sport of pickleball became to be named pickleball. The first is that one of the founding father’s wives, Joan Pritchard (wife of Joel Pritchard), named the game “pickleball” because the game reminded her of a pickle boat, which is a term in crew to refer to the boat that has mismatched, leftover oarsmen from other boats.
With that said, the second and more popular theory professed by Barney McCallum and other firsthand eye witnesses from the early days, is that the sport of pickleball was named after the Pritchard family’s cock-a-poo named “Pickles.”
In the early days, a passionate debate broke out about amongst the guests at a cocktail party hosted by the Pritchard family about what to call the newly created paddle game. At the time of the debate, Pickles the dog ran across the room. As Pickles flashed across the room, someone suggested that the new, fun paddle game be called “pickleball” because Pickles would run around and chase the ball on, off, and around the court. It was “Pickle’s ball.” Hence, pickleball!
Whatever theory you prefer to tell, and whatever the paddle game invented by Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum may be called, one thing is certain… we in the pickleball community are all extremely grateful for pickleball!