by Randy Ooney
My Nickel’s Worth by Randy Ooney
My first visit to Reno, Nevada was in 1966. The Greyhound I was riding to San Francisco stopped in “The biggest little city in the world” for a passenger lunch break. I was fascinated by the city, and at age 19, I was able to drop a few coins in the one armed bandits at the bus depot without being questioned. The city did not have the shows, lights, or charm of Las Vegas, and has spent years trying to catch up, but never did. But in 1995, Reno opened its heart and doors to the many thousands of bowlers by constructing the National Bowling Stadium, and began holding tournaments for amateurs and professionals annually.
I have made a few trips to the stadium over the last 15 years, but always found it difficult to hit my average on the challenging conditions of the lanes. But the building remains the most impressive bowling center in the country. Things have not changed much as the USBC Masters was held there this past week. The composite average of the professionals was 213, while the amateurs managed only 188. A relatively unknown, Tommy Hess was this year’s victor, defeating Mika Koivuniemi and Jack Jurek to claim the title. Hess is from Urbandale, Iowa, and delivers sod in the summer and bowls in the winter. Tommy has the physique of a pro wrestler, and brought Kenny “Sodbuster” Jay to mind as I watched the finals on TV.
But I couldn’t help but think of another “Sod” during the telecast. Minneapolis’ own Scott “Sodie” Sodergren, who currently toils on the lanes of Earle Brown Bowl in Brooklyn Center. Not once, but twice on Sunday, Mika left the 3-4-6-7-9-10 split. Randy Pederson referred to it as something like “4 through the middle”, but here in Minnesota we know the leave as the “Full Sodie”. More than a few years ago, our friend Sodie threw the front 11 in a league game, and on the 12th ball left the 3-4-6-7-9-10 for a 294 game.
Maybe not the best 11 in a row plaque to hang on the wall, but it’s nice to be famous for something.
Anyway, congratulations to the karaoke singing, sod slinging, new Masters champion from Iowa, Tommy Hess.