by Randy Ooney
My Nickel’s Worth by Randy Ooney
In the Spring 2008 issue of US Bowler magazine, there is a piece about celebrities, mainly stars of other professional sports, and their bowling prowess. Jerome Bettis was ranked highly in the article, as well as in the accompanying critique by someone I’ve never heard of named Norman Chad. This is not surprising, as I recall “The Bus” being among the spectators at several PBA events in the 1990s in Pennsylvania. The camera would focus on him at certain times and the commentators would mention that he was there. This is not uncommon. I recall the finals of the 1995 Women’s BPAA US Open held at the National Sports Center in Blaine, MN. I was in attendance, and was caught several times on camera The difference was that Jan Schmidt and Leila Wagner did not mention my name on the air. I suppose they figured everyone already knew who I was.
The US Bowler article also mentioned John “Charcoal” Burkett who now claims credit for eight 300 games and three 800 series, and the Candy Man, Tom Candiotti, another former big league pitcher who now sports a 212 league average There was also honorable mention for Ken Griffey Jr., LeBron James, and of course, Chris Paul who along with Chris Barnes appears in several USBC ads on TV and print media. I really had to guard against inhaling my teeth when I noticed Bill Murray on the list. We saw Bill Murray in the fabled movie “Kingpin”, and in addition to being a marginal actor, his bowling style would welcome him into many a Saturday Night pot game.
Missing from the article were some of our favorite Minnesota celebrities. Ron Gardenhire owns at least one 300 game and an average over 200. Kent Hrbek also carries a 200+ average, and Johan Santana held several bowling fund raisers At the Eden Prairie Zone. Oops, I forgot I said “Minnesota celebrities”. Ten or twelve years ago in the Southtown League at Stardust Lanes, Vikings running back LeRoy Hoard graced the premises on Wednesday nights. LeRoy rolled a weird looking orange colored ball. He liked to toss it out about 15 boards and make it come back 20. He locked in for some big games once in awhile, but his average was in the 190s. Not bad for a guy who made a living scoring touchdowns on two yard runs After the football season ended, LeRoy was caught with something he wasn’t supposed to have, and we never saw him again.
In the 1970s, during baseball’s off season, Rod Carew would frequently bowl with the Hersteins in the Aqua Straightaway league at Aqua Bowl in Deephaven. Rod’s average didn’t compare with some of the others, but he had the only Corvette in the parking lot. The article also failed to mention Richard Nixon, who had a lane or two installed in the White House. Oh yeah, I forgot, the article was only about celebrities.