Berkeley Keeps “Lock” on PIMD Women’s Singles Championship

The PIMD Women’s Singles Championship is a chance for the region’s women bowlers to show how it’s done and for three years in a row now, one of BLBC’s own ladies has won the bragging rights.

The event was held at the BLBC on Saturday, May 11, and Annie Brillhart regained the crown she had won in 2017 after ceding to another Berkeley bowler, Cathy Dinnean, last year.

The weather cooperated for a lovely day on the green, at the end of which Annie edged out a fine performance by novice bowler Elizabeth Mulenga (Palo Alto). Both of whom were the only players to win all three of their games, but Annie had a slightly better differential. Reggie Banares, veteran bowler and winner of many past events in the Bay Area and beyond, came in third.

The road to victory was not easy, however, as Annie had to face her good friend and current title holder, Cathy, in the third match. Down 4-12 on the eighth end, Annie told herself to slow down and just get the point. Which she did, so that by the 17th end, Cathy’s lead had been cut to 13 -12. With three points on the 18th and final end, Annie showed the truth of that old saying: “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

Congratulations to Annie on her win (again) and thanks to all who laid on the hospitality and volunteered as markers. In an added kudos—for both Annie and the Club—BLBC garnered at least two new Dual Members! This couple felt our green was bowling so well and looked to be in such good condition that they signed up on the spot. Many compliments from others, accompanied by hints of potential membership, came our way on the state of the green, which is mostly attributable to the efforts and dedication of newly-retired previous Greenskeeper, Annie herself. The challenge now is to keep up her good work going forward

PIMD 2019 Women’s Singles Championship: From l-r, Elizabeth Mulenga (Runner Up), Annie Brillhart (1st  Place), and PIMD legend Reggie Baneres (3rd Place)

Meat Axe Returns to Berkeley!

BLBC President Ian Cameron receives the coveted Meat Axe trophy from Palo Alto LBC President John MacMorris

On a fine May 4 Saturday, eighteen members of the Berkeley club assembled on the Palo Alto green to defend the Meat Axe trophy against eighteen equally determined players from Palo Alto. The tournament, now in its 66th year, mimics the Cal-Stanford rivalry played out in “The Big Game” when the winning team gets to carry off the famous Axe. In the bowling world, the victors take home the somewhat smaller cleaver to proudly display in their clubhouse until next year’s event. Six teams from each club played a 14-end Triples game in the morning, and a second game in the afternoon. The scores were close all around, but Berkeley pulled off some exciting last minute saves, and ended winning four of the six games both morning and afternoon. The trophy was graciously returned to Berkeley by Palo Alto president, John MacMorris, to Berkeley president Ian Cameron. We look forward to next year’s challenge, which will be played on the Berkeley green.

Our thanks to the Palo Alto club for its wonderful hospitality as always. Congenial competition was the spirit of the day.

Berkeley’s Proud 2019 Team

Howard Mackey (1926 – 2019)


Howard Mackey—long-time BLBC member, former BLBC president, former greens-keeper, former board-member, and former Memorial & Endowment Fund Trustee—passed away on April 15, 2019.  Howard crammed a lot of life into his 93 years:  he enjoyed taking it all in, and he could tell you hundreds of stories about sailing, RV living in southern California, life in the Bay Area from his childhood to the present day, and bowling.  Life did not just happen to Howard – Howard went at life with a remarkable combination of enthusiasm, stoicism, and old-fashioned directness. 

Bay Area lawn bowlers consider Howard a Berkeley institution, but Howard considered himself an El Cerrito product.  One of those rarities of California — a native — Howard was born to a family that lived in El Cerrito around B Street, near the current Harding School.  Howard remembered the days when the dog track (the site of the El Cerrito Plaza) was the epicenter of El Cerrito, then the colorful and corrupt town that escaped Alameda County DA Earl Warren’s reformist wrath by sitting just over the Contra Costa County line.  He sometimes talked about the squalid trailers not far from his home, where families who worked at the racetrack lived.  Seeing this had a profound effect on the young Howard.  He was proud of his parents’ work as supporters for what eventually became the El Cerrito Good Government League that in 1946 successfully recalled the corrupt city government and replaced 3 council members with league candidates.  He would say that there were many reasons for them not to do what they did – but he felt they did the right thing.  Howard seemed to live his own life making choices inspired by his parents’ integrity.

Howard attended El Cerrito High School and returned to teach there until his retirement.  The halls there have articles and photos of Howard serving his community.  This writer had the pleasure of coaching former students of Howard who came through the BLBC gates years later.  They would reminisce fondly about their time with him.

Howard would want the story of his life to include what a powerful combination he and his wife Barbara (also a bowler and a BLBC member) were.  They lived as though their good fortune, robust health, and ability compelled them to serve their community fully. 

Howard and Barbara joined the BLBC in 1993, and the couple bowled competitively for many years.  The BLBC’s winners’ board includes the Mackeys in all kinds of competitions.  They bowled regularly in PIMD tournaments and did the BLBC proud by bringing back many victories over the years.  And whether he bowled well or not on a particular day, Howard never let the fever of competition overwhelm him: he always started and finished a game with a handshake and sincere thanks for the play regardless of the outcome.

Howard bowled for many years as a lethal skip.  In later years he preferred to bowl as an equally lethal second.  Toward the end of his bowling days, he left the heavy lifting to others and shifted to bowling as lead.  When he wasn’t working on the green or in the clubhouse, he was practicing with 2 sets of bowls, but with neither mat nor rink markers.  He would bowl to a jack that he rolled anywhere on the green.  He then walked to the jack, rolled it out to another random spot on the green and so on.  During these practice sessions, Barbara might be reading on the bench near the memorial plaque in her name.  

When not bowling, Howard and Barbara served the club in countless ways.  Barbara served as board secretary for several terms and Howard served two terms as BLBC president. Howard and Barbara enjoyed running the Berkeley Jamboree for quite a few years.  They frequently were the first to come set up for events and draw games and just as frequently the last to leave when putting things away.  Howard stepped up to serve as greenskeeper for several years, a thankless job that he took on with grace and equanimity.  A common sight would be Howard hunched over a piece of machinery, confidently dismantling and reassembling it.  He might tell an observer about the first time he worked on a piece of machinery like it — and how he completely messed it up.  Ever the teacher, Howard wanted us to know that failure followed by trying again was the key to everything.

Barbara died in 2012, and that took its toll on Howard.  He did not dwell upon his loss in a public way, but if he was comfortable with you, he would speak of his loneliness and how strange it felt for him to wake up without Barbara there.  He also frequently spoke of the happiness and joy his family brought to him:  he knew himself to be lucky and was grateful.

 And that is how we at the Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club feel about Howard and Barbara.  They gave so much time, labor, love, and goodwill to the BLBC and its members.  A grateful BLBC community shall remember them fondly for what they cheerfully provided in so many ways.  We offer our condolences to the Mackey family.

Note: A memorial service for Howard Mackey will be held at the Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club on June 15, 2019.

PIMD Pairs Competition

This past week end at San Francisco Lawn Bowling Club, six women’s pairs teams battled for the right to represent the PIMD at the National Championships in September. They played three 18 end games on Saturday and two 18 end games on Sunday. Despite the freezing cold wind on Saturday, BLBC’s own Cathy Dinnean and Sarah Allday won two games and lost their third game by only one point. They were tied on the 16th end in games one and two and went on to win. They were tied in the 17th end of their third game; Cathy missed making the winning shot by a hair. All three games were exciting to watch. (Two teams didn’t finish until 7:30; they played their last end in the dark.  Happily, we three ladies arrived at our club about then.) Cathy and Sarah weren’t as successful on Sunday. Despite some fine bowling by both ladies, they lost both games by six points. However, they ended up in third place. Not too shabby for their first time at the play-downs! The winning team:  Angie Peet and Rose Selby–the only team to win all their games. Team Ginger Harris and Janice Bell (also a BLBC dual member) are the first alternates.

Eleven men’s pairs teams also played. The top six teams will compete again next weekend. Sadly, BLBC team Jim Corr and Bob Schwartz just missed the cut. However, BLBC dual members Daniel Gorelick, Mo Shooer, Frankie Napoli and Russ Leonard advanced. Good luck going forward, guys!

Let the (2019) Games Begin!

The Group Welcomes the Start of the Bowling Season

On Saturday, March 16, 120 bowlers from the PIMD met at San Francisco Lawn Bowling Club for President’s Recognition Opening Day. Our own Jim Corr was recognized as a past president, and Ian Cameron was recognized as our current president. Along with Ian and Jim, eight other members of our club–Andy, Annie, Cathy, Glenn, John, Rob, Mo and Susan Carlson–were on hand to enjoy seeing familiar faces and to meet new friends.

Of course there was a raffle to help raise money to pay for hosting the 2019 National Championship at San Francisco Lawn Bowling Club in September. We’ll be needing volunteers from our club to help. More about that soon!

The morning began with a well earned tribute to the San Francisco Parks and Recreation Department. (See first photo below.) Their commitment to improving the greens and surrounds is extraordinary; their sincere belief that lawn bowling is both an historic and a contemporary socially important activity that deserves their City’s strong support serves as a model for other communities. After the opening ceremonies, we all participated in a spider. Quite a sight! (See the photo below.)

Then, everyone was ready for the bowling to begin. We played a game in the morning, took a break for lunch and played another game in the afternoon. Six of our club’s bowlers won money! (I know it’s not just about winning, but we all have to admit it’s great when we do!) Two of our novices did quite well.

Novice Susan Carlson: 2nd Place in the morning game. Well done, Susan!

Novice Ian: Tied for 2nd Place in the morning game, and won 2nd Place in the afternoon game. Hubba, hubba!

Annie: Tied for 2nd Place in the morning game.

Jim: 2nd place in the afternoon game.

Mo: Tied for 2nd Place in the morning game.

Rob: 1st Place in the afternoon game. (Best win for our club!)

The weather was perfect. It was a great day!

Checking the Spider Results

George Goldman, 1935 – 2018

The BLBC recently received news that former BLBC member George Goldman passed away in June of this year. George joined our club and bowled enthusiastically for quite a few years.  Several years ago he started treatment for leukemia, and the treatment gave him valuable additional time,but took its toll on his physical strength.  George himself likely would have admitted as much.  He proudly honed a rational approach to life and offered an unblinking and unsentimental assessment of his state and prognosis.  That sounds more serious than George was:  his curiosity and sharp sense of irony made George a voluble and entertaining raconteur. 

Outside of his lawn bowling life, George worked at the University of California in the Extension programs as an economist specializing in agriculture.  He was one of the charter members of the BLBC’s poker group. Imagine George and several other economists at the poker table waxing eloquent on various economic issues of the day in technical detail.  The non-economist at the table might think this distraction would help someone focused on the poker score.  Alas, for that non-economist (like this writer), when George sat at the table he won more frequently than he lost when the night’s counting out was through.   

Any conversation with George might cover economics, bowling,music, cooking, camping, travel, softball, or any other topic, really.  He was a charming, forthright, funny, curious and sincere man.  The BLBC offers its sympathies to the Goldman family.

(Note:  more information about George can be found from the notice in the San Francisco Chronicle at this link:  https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/sfgate/obituary.aspx?n=george-goldman&pid=189345558).

BLBC Wins 2018 Rossmoor Challenge on Home Turf

The BLBC “Rossmoor Challenge” is an annual match up of Berkeley bowlers against our friendly rivals on the other side of the Caldecott Tunnel. It is played in alternate years on each club’s green. This year, BLBC was firing on all cylinders. Under sunny skies Berkeley won by a score of 9 games to 1 (four triples matches and one pairs in the morning and the afternoon). Everybody from both teams had a great day, both socializing before the games and during the lunch break. We look forward to defending the “title” next year at Rossmoor.

Thanks go to all who participated as well as the hospitality crew of Sarah Allday, Cathy Dinnean, and Susan Jamart who made sure a fine spread was set up in advance.

BLBC 2018 Fall League

The results are in! After five grueling weeks–no, wait, everybody said they were having a good time…–the BLBC High-Low Fall League drew to a close Sunday afternoon. It was touch-and-go this past summer as to whether or not the tournament would even get off the ground, and we admittedly didn’t have perfect attendance throughout the five weeks of play, but a cordial group of fourteen bowlers managed to pull it off with no noticeable glitches. Since this was nominally a pairs tournament, a format was used which kept Skips and Leads separated into two divisions for scoring purposes. Because not relying on substitutes was an important goal, an interesting mix of alternative games was utilized when necessary. Everyone got on board to make it all happen successfully.

When the numbers were tabulated, both races turned out to be extremely close among the top three finishers. Lennon Hamilton held on to his tournament-long advantage in the Skips division for a narrow victory over a hard-charging Shawn Roney, who in turn squeaked past Dave McMullen for second place. James Judge had such a strong lead that his place atop the Leads division was all but assured even though he missed the finale, while Glenn Nunez barely edged out Cindy Moss for the final prize envelope.

It was a rewarding experience for me to direct my first tournament, made all the more so by the enthusiastic support of all the participants. Maybe we’ll try something like it again!

A few folks were missing for the obligatory final-day group photo, but you get the idea,

Glenn