Showman set for 39th U.S. Open

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 4, 2007

HOOVER &8212; Riverchase resident Homer Brown will be doing a little shuffling this week as the &8220;Showman of the Olympics&8221; will take his competitive act to Las Vegas for the table tennis U.S. Open.

For 39 conecutive years, Brown, a former Vulcan Oil executive, has set aside at least one week a year to compete in the Open. This year the Showman, dubbed so for his variety of serves from his shuffle to knee special that entertain the crowd, feels he is possibly the best conditioned he has been in years entering the Open.

Brown has competed on a weekly basis this year through Friday night tournaments at his business BumperNets and returned Friday from the National Senior Olympics in Louisville, Ky., where he captured fifth place in singles and fourth place in doubles with Inverness resident Duke Stogner.

&8220;I hardley ever get a warm-up like I have going into nationals,&8221; said Brown, who lost 10 pounds during the two-day event in Louisville. &8220;(In the past,) I might have played a tournament three months before…With the warm-up I got this week, I have a good chance to beat some people up and make the finals in the over 50 event.&8221;

Brown began his world record of 39 consecutive U.S. Open appearances in 1969 in San Francisco and hopes to bring his 40th event to the Birmingham area next summer.

&8220;I was thinking the 40th would be good in San Francisco, but then I was thinking, why not Birmingham? Why not let them come to me?&8221; Brown said.

Brown, originally from St. Louis, relocated to Birmingham in 1996 as the COO of Vulcan Oil. However, after two years, he resigned from the oil business after obtaining his dream to run his own oil company to pursue another dream.

&8220;I bought a gold camera to keep my mind on it,&8221; Brown said of his hopes for a gold medal as his first trip to the Senior Olympics approached at age 50.

Upon his resignation, Brown started BumperNets to help him get in shape and stay focused on the dream.

The dream came true the following year, as he captured gold in both singles and doubles play in the Summer Games of 1999.

Now, nearly 10 years later since making what Brown calls a &8220;life sport&8221; his daily life, he does not see an end to his U.S. Open streak any time soon.

In addition to playing, the &8220;service first&8220; businessman and ambassador of the game hopes to continue giving exhibitions in schools and sharing the game he enjoys so much in the Birmingham and Shelby County area.

A start, he hopes, is to bring the state championships to Birmingham next May, preferably to Spain Park High School, where he has helped establish an interest in the sport