by Randy Ooney
My Nickel’s Worth by Randy Ooney
“It’s a pool table, don’t you understand. Friend, either you are closing your eyes to a situation you do not wish to acknowledge, or you are unaware of the caliber of disaster indicated by a pool table in your community.” More words from “The Music Man” to lead into a story of a young man growing up in the Loring neighborhood of Minneapolis. There were no video game parlors in the fifties. The State Fair came but for 10 days at the end of summer. What can a young man do with leisure time for the other 355 days? The pool hall was always an option until one day it was closed to resurface the tables. So Bob Hanson and his friends went up the street to the Loring Nicollet bowling center and he was hooked.
Bob practiced and improved his skills and by the 60’s, he was one of the most respected bowlers in the Twin Cities. So respected that in 1964 he was invited to join the Hamm’s Beer team. In that era, the beer companies were great sponsors of bowling. I previously wrote about the famed Budweiser team from St. Louis. Stroh’s had teams in Detroit, and I imagine Milwaukee had beer sponsors in every center in the city. St. Paul and Minneapolis had many sponsors as well. Grain Belt, Schmidt, and others, but none so respected as the Hamm’s beer team. So in 1964, Bob Hanson joined Glen Olson, Gordy Dahl, LeRoy Bryant, and Bill Baden to form this area’s most prestigious lineup in 1960’s bowling. The very next year, when the ABC tournament was held in St. Paul, Hamm’s took the team all events title with a score of 9053. But they weren’t finished. At the ABC in Knoxville in 1970 they scored another eagle in the team event with 3243, then repeated the feat in 1972 at Long Beach with 3101. It is the only time in ABC/USBC history that a team has won two team event titles with the same five bowlers. The team also claimed the state record for high series for a number of years with a high 34xx series at East Side Lanes.
In addition to the team accolades, Bob Hanson has many singles tournaments titles and top ten accomplishments too numerous to mention. I think the highest praise is having a league named in your honor. The Bob Hanson league bowled at Nokomis Lanes for many years and is now alive and well at Mattie’s on the south side of St. Paul. Bob himself still competes as a league bowler, and you can also see his smiling face as a spectator at the MSC tournaments and other events around town, as long as they are in a bowling center.
Bob is one of the friendliest bowlers you ever want to meet. A true diamond and legend of the lanes. But I never found out if he is any good at shooting pool