USBC President Jeff Boje talks about move of Hall of Fame to Arlington in 2009 By Dick Evans



    ColumnistDickEvans.jpg Chasing Jeff Boje down for an interview is even more difficult than trying to catch up with Santa Claus on Christmas eve in order to ask Santa to deliver the present you almost forgot to buy for your spouse.

    But it can be done thanks to nation wide satellite tracking systems.

    I had only a couple questions to ask of Boje, who last month was reelected president of the United States Bowling Congress by the USBC Board of Directors. Being president of the USBC at this particular point in bowling's history is a difficult job, a job, a time consuming job and a thankless job where you are second guessed at every turn.

    Among the thankless jobs are talking to bowling writers.

    The No. 1 question on my mind was what was going to happen to the National Bowling Hall of Fame and Museum, which had been located in downtown St. Louis since it opened June 2, 1984.

    "I believe that an announcement will be made in the next week that the Hall of Fame is moving to Arlington, Texas," Boje said. "The Museum in St. Louis would close December 31st and the new museum would reopen sometime in 2009."

    Then Boje added, "The unknowns are: What will the current building in St. Louis sell for and what will it take to build the new hall of fame. The St. Louis project has all but fallen apart due to the economy and the loss of a major tenant. At the current time the HOF is bleeding cash due to low attendance."

    I am not surprised. I was on hand for the opening ceremonies in St. Louis 24 years ago today and in my story I wrote that I feared it could become a white elephant because it's downtown location was fantastic from an esthetic standpoint but not practical because it was not located next to an off ramp from Interstate 70.

    So Boje's last answer led to another logical question: have any potential buyers come forward to purchase the USBC property in Greendale, Wis.?

    "We do not have a contract for the building in Greendale," Boje said. "We do have quite a bit of interest but the economy is not in our favor there either. We believe we will sell it for about $7 million. In the mean time we have a line of credit at a very low interest rate to carry the transition cost."

    So when does he expect the staff's move to Arlington to be completed?

    "I expect the bulk of the move to take place by September first," Boje revealed "A team of about 15-20 people will remain in Greendale for a minimum of a year to deal with the basic issues of assisting local associations and taking routine bowler league rule and league issue calls.

    "These people have agreed to keep the customer service ship up and running until the transition is complete and new people are hired. The 15 to 20 people are replacing four groups of about 40 people. We retained the best,

    "The testing and training center should be built no later than Jan.-March of 2009. Some people think January first but that is a bit aggressive in my experience."

    The next question was obvious, was he happy with the number and quality of USBC employees in Greendale who have agreed to move to Arlington?

    "I do not know everyone so it is hard to say," Boje admitted. "A number of good people decided not go but had good reasons that were largely personal situations. Transitions never are easy and always have learning curve bumps. What is very encouraging is the number of very qualified applicants that have been coming in, far more then if we were staying in Greendale.

    "The talent is willing to come to work for us in Arlington, but there still will be transition, learning and training issues. I would rather state this up front rather than have to apologize for it later."

    Then Boje added this gem: "People who do not take action and risk are not leaders. Fear of risk and strict protocol are the foundations of failure in today's world."

    The presidential candidates would be happy to know that it is no longer business as usual in Washington. Ups, make that in Greendale.

    The Elite PBA 50

    The Professional Bowlers Association has decided to figure out the top 50 players of the PBA's first 50 years.

    I knew it was not an easy chore since I had hand picked 20 veteran bowling writers to select the top 20 women bowlers of the 20th Century. Bill Vint came up with the original idea of picking the top 20 male bowlers of the 20th Century.

    The 20th Century task was extremely difficult for me since I did not know the pre-Second World War bowling greats so all I had to go on was black-and-white records. However, bowling records are not black-and-white if you don't know some of the stories behind the records.

    The PBA has always listed the Tournament of Champions as a Major. It carried the most prestigious, but in my book it was the easiest tournament to win because of the limited size field (48 in the old days and then even fewer when it was contested at the Mohegan Sun). In my personal record book, the old Showboat was one of the top four majors since it hard such a large field every year and because the PBA used its long format to determine the champion.

    That personal knowledge of all the tournaments and all the contenders is why I thought it would be easier to pick the top 50 PBA players from a list of 100 sent me by the PBA.

    Wrong; Personal memories and personal favorites became factors that I had to whittle out of my selection process.

    Start with the first name on the list of 100: Bill Allen. You probably asked yourself, Bill Allen, who was he?

    The PBA printed a little record book of the top 100 and showed that the late Bill Allen, a name from the past that few know, was the first of the great lefthanders. He was winning before other lefties were winning in the early years of the PBA when there were fewer tournaments than in later years.

    He may have been the only player to be fined $1,000 for a comment he made to a writer from the Akron Beacon-Journal. Allen was asked if a lefthander could win the Firestone Tournament of Champions at Riviera Lanes in Akron and he said something like "no way."

    The writer also asked Dave Davis the same question and Davis replied something like this, "Ditto to whatever Bill said."

    The writer printed the story in the Akron Beacon-Journal and it was read by Eddie Elias, who founded the PBA in Akron in 1958.

    Not long afterwards it was revealed that Allen was fined $1,000 and Davis $500 for their remarks to the bowling writer.

    Another interesting point to me is that the only last name that drew my vote twice was Allen, Bill and Patrick. And they both happen to be lefthanders.

    The most confusion in my mind was the information listed for Don Carter, the bowler Elias knew he needed to lure if the PBA was going to get off the ground.

    The PBA Media Guide lists six titles for Don Carter, who was force to give up bowling in 1971 because of bad legs. But the PBA announced it was going back and recognize National All-Star and Masters titles won by players before the PBA was founded or before the Masters was recognized.

    The PBA book lists seven career titles for Don Carter plus five major titles. I am not certain how the PBA arrived at that total but I accept it.

    Other PBA players have more impressive statistics than Don Carter but none caught the imagination of the American public or national advertisers like Don Carter, who was voted the greatest bowler of the 20th Century.

    Picking the top 50 was difficult, listing the top 50 in order on the next ballot is going to be a painful experience.

    But it should bring bowling and the PBA a lot of publicity.

    Here are my top 50 on the first-round voting:

    Bill Allen, Patrick Allen, Earl Anthony, Barry Asher, Mike Aulby, Tom Baker, Del Ballard, Chris Barnes, Joe Berardi, Parker Bohn, Bo Burton, Don Carter, Paul Colwell, Steve Cook, Jason Couch, Dave Davis, Norm Duke, Mike Durbin, Dave Ferraro.

    Jim Godman, Bryan Goebel, Billy Golembiewski, John Guenther, Billy Hardwick, Marshall Holman, Steve Hoskins, Dave Husted, Don Johnson, Tommy Jones, Mika Koivuniemi, Larry Laub, Mike McGrath, Amleto Monacelli.

    Dave Ozio, George Pappas, Randy Pedersen, John Petraglia, Dick Ritger, Mark Roth, Carmen Salvino, Harry Smith, Dave Soutar, Jim Stefanich, Brian Voss, Wayne Webb, Dick Weber, Pete Weber, Walter Ray Williams, Danny Wiseman and Wayne Zahn.

    Try picking your top 50 and see how accurate you are when the PBA releases the elite 50 bowlers in the first 50 years of the PBA.

    It's not an easy chore, and sometimes hurts to leave off a friend or a bowler who always took time to give me good interviews.

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