by Randy Ooney
My Nickel’s Worth by Randy Ooney
“When you say Bud…You’ve said a lot of things nobody else can say”. These are the opening words to a beer company jingle, but, sorry drock, this article is not about beer. 1951 was a pretty good year for the Twin Cities. The Minneapolis Miller baseball club enjoyed the presence of Willie Mays for about six weeks. He was called to the Giants quickly, and helped them win a pennant on the strength of Bobby Thompson’s playoff home run. The Minneapolis Lakers played their home games in the old Minneapolis auditorium and won the NBA championship on the strength of George Mikan and Vern Mikkelson. Vern Gagne captured the NWA Jr. Heavyweight Championship of the seven county mosquito control district. And speaking of wrestling, Jim Janos was born in Minneapolis on July 15, 1951. You may know him better as Jesse Ventura.
Also in 1951, the American Bowling Congress elected to hold the national Open Championships at the St. Paul Auditorium. Future Hall of Famer Joe Norris and Brunswick were in charge of installing 40 lanes in that venue, and a young man named Maynard Johnson participated in his first ABC Open Championship. I first crossed paths with Bud Johnson in MSC tournaments about 15 years ago, but until recent publicity, I never knew his given name. Bud will occasionally work on his game with our morning group at Texa Tonka, but last week I had the distinct pleasure of sharing a meal at the Twin City Masters League banquet at Sundance Golf and Bowl. You have probably seen the story from bowl.com which has been shared on mnbowling as well as Facebook. After that first tournament, and a couple of years in the military, Bud Johnson went on to compete in 59 more consecutive Open Championships and received just rewards and accolades on his 60th year of participation this April.
Minnesota has always had great representation at the National tournament. The Hamm’s teams from the 60’s and early 70’s; Sam Lantto’s continued outstanding performance, John Kreyer Jr. with a pair of perfect games, Matt McNiel’s incredible all events record, and a perfecto this year by Scott Pohl. Congratulations to all these men, and apologies to names I left behind, but Bud Johnson’s achievements leave something for many others to dream about. Bud joins only 16 other players to have competed in at least 60 Open Championships. There have been 12 different United States Presidents during Bud’s run of tournaments. Bud has amassed a total pinfall of 98,753 in his 60 combined tournaments. Before you scoff and say that’s only a 182 average, you can do some research. From 1958 through 1979, the Open had a classic division for the better bowlers. It would generally draw 50 to 80 teams of pros and elite bowlers. The results were generally games averaging under 200 for even those who made a living bowling. Next year, Bud will join only 13 other players who have eclipsed the 100,000 total pinfall pinnacle.
Bud was elected to the Minneapolis Hall of Fame in 1977. It’s true that his league average may have slipped a bit. Before you say anything, wait until you are over 80 years of age and see what your average is. He competed in the Twin City Masters League this year because he is a Master at the sport of bowling. Bud averaged over 210 in the BPA Traveling League, back when 185 was the standard in most scratch leagues around town. Our dinner conversation also carried stories about Championship Bowling when the touring pros came to town to try to win $1000. We couldn’t remember if it was on TV on Saturday or Sunday nights, but what the heck, we’re old. Stories with names like Glen Olson, Bob Hanson, Eddie Maehren, Norm Abrams, and Leo Mann were great visits to the past.
So, Congratulations Bud! I believe the commercial ends something like, “When you say Bud Johnson, You’ve said it all.”