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My Nickel’s Worth                             by Randy Ooney


Handy Mann


“You can talk you can bicker, you can talk you can bicker, you can talk talk talk talk bicker bicker bicker, you can talk all you want to but it’s different than it was!  No it ain’t but you gotta know the territory”  These fabled words from the intro of “The Music Man” were spoken by salesmen riding the train to River City.  Not our Xtreme River City of Monticello, but the fictional River City, Iowa, which I always figured was somewhere between Cresco and the Field of Dreams in Dyersville.


Some years ago I was privileged to bowl in a league with Leo Mann.  Leo was a savvy salesman with Brown and Bigelow, and in his free time was one of the best bowlers in the Twin Cities.  About 35 years ago, Drukula’s in Inver Grove hosted the BPAA US Open tournament.  Leo qualified and made the top 24 against the best pro bowlers of the time.  Leo organized many squads for tournaments, and I remember bowling the Ran-Ham, Tribune Classic, Whitey Cox 20 game scratch, and other events on Leo’s squad.  He always picked up the squad organizer perks, and nearly always cashed.  Not so for the rest of us, but it was fun to be on Leo’s squad.


In the mid 1970’s, Leo took a shot at being a pro shop proprietor at Gus Young’s Biltmore Lanes in Edina.  He was the first one I ever saw to carry a two ball bag in for league bowling.  The rest of us had a black rubber ball, and would maybe get a new black rubber ball every five years or so when the old one got scratched up.  One night in the Hopkins Major League, where Leo sported the high average by more than a few pins, Leo pulled out a strange looking brown orange colored plastic bowling ball.  Everyone had a look to see it was a Columbia 300, but the color was masculine, not the blue and red ones we saw in the women’s leagues.  For the next couple of weeks, Leo averaged about 240 with that ball.  This was in the day where 185 was a pretty good score.  The third week, about half the league showed up with shiny new caramel plastic Columbia 300’s, freshly drilled at Leo Mann’s Biltmore Pro Shop. 

Leo switched back to a rubber ball and continued to fire the big sixes, while the rest of us were content to produce 580’s with our new yellow dot caramels.


I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Professor Harold Hill and Leo Mann both have a four letter surname ending with a double consonant.  He knew the territory.     


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