Those who saw him on the court knew his game.

Tom Codori kicked butt on the racquetball court, besting men nearly half his age. But now, at 84, Codori received the stop-that-it's-bad-for-your-health talk from his doctor.

So, 32 years after retiring from work, Tom has retired his racquet, quit playing and taken a seat on the sidelines. No more Wednesday nights with the guys on the racquetball court. His doctor told him if a racquet or ball hit him in the chest, it could cause problems with his newly installed pacemaker.

He and Jean Codori, his wife of 62 years, sat in recliners in the living room of their Oatman Street home near Kiwanis Lake the other day talking about the sport they love and those life-altering physical ailments that prevent them from playing -- well, racquetball anyway.

"No contact sports," Tom said. "That's what stopped me -- doctor's orders."

Arthritis stopped Jean from playing. She quit 10 years ago, when she was 70. But she hung on to the racquet, storing it in the basement for old times' sake.

The two grew up in York. Tom was 20 years old when he noticed Jean. He used to drive by the then-16-year-old's house at West Philadelphia and West streets. Her outfit -- shorts and a halter top -- got his attention. A mutual friend secured an introduction; they married two years later.

In love with sport: There was always entertainment, bowling, tennis -- even stock-car racing. But when Jean discovered racquetball in the early 1970s, she fell in love with the sport.

"I told (Tom), 'You're sitting at your desk all day long, you need to get out, get some exercise,'" Jean said. "He loved it."

They played together for a while, but branched out. They joined a league, enlisted their daughters and eventually their grandchildren in the sport. Jean rode
her red and white Moped, racquet in tow, for matches with their girls. But pain in her arms and shoulders forced her to quit the game.

Tom met his former racquetball partners by chance 12 years ago. He showed up for a game, but neither his nor Steve Lookingbill's opponent showed.

So, the two paired and challenged Tom Heiland and his son, Tom Heiland II, to a game. For whatever reason, the men got along. And they've played together for more than a decade.

Lookingbill is 43. He has partnered with Tom Codori for 12 of the 15 years he has played. He said Tom has a good "dink" shot, which means Tom smacks the ball just hard enough to hit the wall and drop.

Hard to beat: "When he's having a good game, it's tough to beat him," Lookingbill said about his partner. "Everyone has a good time with Tom, and they're always amazed at how well he's doing."

Lookingbill said he'd miss playing with Tom, that he was a good partner during the years. So too will Sally Senft. She owns the Tennis Rack at The Athletic Club of York. She is used to seeing Tom at the club.

"In all the years I've been involved in racquetball, he's the oldest one who continued to play," Senft said. "He always showed up for matches, and the players always welcomed him."

Tom and Jean got together with the racquetball guys and gals the other night. They talked sports and laughed. The guys gave him a sendoff and told him to stop by the club now and then.

Jean said she doesn't mind, since he'll be home most Wednesday nights. Tom still works a day a week at Pennsylvania Auto Dealer's Exchange, a car auction business in Conewago Township.

He uses the computer, e-mailing friends and family, and he's taken up reading. Tom said he's in the process of cleaning out their garage, and there are plenty of other projects around the house.

"We'll try and get together," Tom said about his racquetball partners. "I'll go out there, watch and maybe have a beer or two afterward."

-- Reach Kathy Stevens at or 505-5437.