William O. Harbach
The Croquet Foundation of America welcomes William O. (Otto) Harbach to its Hall of Fame, graciously recognizing his refusal to give up the nine wicket, two stake game for our present competition six wicket court setting. If everyone had the spacious attractive lawn that Billy and Barbara Harbach have in Fairfield, Connecticut, perhaps this strenuous old game would still be the choice of everyone.
But despite his unwillingness to accept the present — Billy hates rock music, too — preferring his father's (the great Otto Harbach) lyrics for Jerome Kerns Yesterdays to the Beatles' Yesterday, Billy still plays a hard hitting game of sometimes unbeatable croquet. He first broke into the game playing with Herbert B. Swope, Jr. right after World War II at Swope Sr.'s Sands Point course and has kept his game at a high peak since, despite the ever more limited opportunities of finding enough ground for the wide open spaces of the no boundaries contest.
Before going to Hollywood, Billy was one of the first to play in The Rambles of Central Park long before the New York Croquet Club came into being. Here on this undulating, bumpy, East Side glade he played often with Hall of Famers Swope, Jr., Dorothy Rogers, Gig Young and an aspiring beginner Jack Osborn (who looked on Billy as his early mentor.) In Hollywood, as producer of The Hollywood Palace on T.V., he had time to take on the fast disappearing greats of the west Coast including Hall of Famers Sam Goldwyn, George Sanders, Jean Negulesco and Louis Jourdan.
William O. Harbach was inducted into the United States Croquet Hall of Fame in 1983.