If someone wanted to find Harry Gans in Berkeley, one only needed to try two places: The Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club or the French Hotel’s coffee shop on Shattuck Avenue – you’d find him at one or the other before long. After not having seen Harry for several months, I recently decided to ask the staff of French Hotel if they had any news of him. They told me that Harry passed away around the 4th of July, with a memorial service at the French Hotel soon after.
Harry seemed to compartmentalize things: never did the different streams of his life cross over. Harry protected his privacy vigorously and most of us saw only what he allowed us to see of him. He confessed some years ago to being in his late 80s (which meant he likely passed away in his 90s); he worked as a graphic artist; and as an illustrator he had several books to his credit, including a little PDF pamphlet that he co-wrote and illustrated that shows his dark sense of humor: How to Survive Death ( http://wagele.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/book_how_to_survive_death.pdf ). Harry also penned strongly opinionated letters to the editors of Berkeley papers.
Harry projected a gruff, misanthropic image; but — when you knew him — you found the shy, mischievous man who could be very sweet. Harry showed his kindness with quickly, but skillfully, drawn cartoons given to people on a lark. He saw humor in many things, and the gruff mask often gave way to a wry grin—if he liked you. Harry also passionately disliked bullies, and felt no hesitation in barking at someone he felt crossed the line with poor sportsmanship or condescending behavior toward other people.
Harry came to bowling late in life, but he frequently bowled well above expectations. Having started the game in his eighties, he did not have the gift of many years to hone it, but he made the most of his game and inspired younger bowlers to at least try as hard as Harry had to. In bowling, Harry gave up the misanthropic act: he knew that any bowler worthy of the name works for the good of the team and his club. Harry never complained if he struggled to place his bowl where he wanted, and he never blamed others for his play.
In the clubhouse, Harry played in the monthly BLBC poker game, and everyone who knew Harry knew Harry’s game: Texas Hold ‘em, high-low. At the French Hotel coffee shop, the staff called him “Yo-yo,” because he liked to show off his yoyo tricks.
Once again, on August 11, the San Francisco LBC hosted its McLaren Memorial Mixed Triples tournament, named in honor of John McLaren, the gardener and landscaper responsible for the San Francisco park system in its earliest years, not least its most famous one—it was he who insisted the Golden Gate Park include three lawn bowling greens. In addition, he is said to have planted 2 million trees throughout the City’s parks.
Because of ongoing improvements to two of the greens, this year’s tournament was only hosted on one green, and the entry list filled up pretty quickly. A full contingent of 16 mixed triples teams of bowlers from all over the Bay Area and beyond competed in the usual “rotational” format that has been the staple of this tournament since its inception. Each bowler plays each position (Lead, Second, and Skip) for four ends.
And once again, Berkeley bowlers turned out in force and with winning results: of the 48 players on the green, 8 were full BLBC members, and 4 were dual members.
On top of that, only two teams won all three of their games—both with Berkeley representatives. Giulia Gallo and her teammates, Brian Stewart (Newport Harbor) and Mike McNorton (San Jose), took 1st Place, with 3 wins and 24 plus points, narrowly squeezing out the all-BLBC team of Shawn Roney, Annie Brillhart, and Cris Benton, who came in 2nd with 21 plus points.
BLBC Bowlers Take Top Prizes in 2018 Regional Singles Tourneys
The weekend of July 14-15 saw the annual Singles Championship Tournaments for both men and women in the Pacific Inter-Mountain Division (PIMD) and Berkeley bowlers stood out in each of the events.
First up was the women’s event, a one-day competition on Saturday involving three matches in gusty wind conditions. Three Berkeley bowlers entered—and swept the board, taking 1st (Cathy Dinnean), 2nd (Ann Brillhart), and 3rd (Giulia Gallo) place.
The men’s tournament ran over two days, with three of Berkeley’s six entrants making it to the knockout round on Sunday—Cris Benton, Jim Corr, and Rob Hoey. Unfortunately, the luck of the draw meant they ended up playing each other, so they couldn’t quite emulate the women’s feat, but Jim Corr took 3rd equal place and Rob Hoey came out on top, beating Larry Collaco of Sunnyvale in a nail-biting final.
Rob initially ran up an early substantial lead (11-1) but Larry would not have it and steadily chipped away in small increments, to pull ahead to 17-14, with 18 points being the ultimate goal. But in a stellar final end, Rob put in four shots within a couple of feet of the jack and took the honors by the narrowest of margins, 18-17.
Today the annual Men’s and Women’s Memorial Pairs Tournament was held at the Oakland club.
During a beautiful day on the green, six teams of men, and six teams of women played three 12-end games. Bud Birkenseer was his usual entertaining self as Director, and the Oakland club laid out a selection of enticing snacks.
Berkeley was well represented by the seven members shown here, and we are proud to announce that there were major successes for the day; Berkeley won 6 of the 8 game prizes as follows:
Women’s First Place:Cathy Dinnean and Leslie Engler
Women’s Second Place:Annie Brillhart (and her partner Reggie Benares)
Men’s First Place: Ethan Bortman (and his partner Bud Birkenseer)
Men’s Second Place: Jim Corr and Cris Benton
and our newest member, Ian Cameron, won one of the three raffle prizes.
Our thanks to the Oakland LBC for hosting a very enjoyable tournament.
The annual 2-Bowl Singles Event is a tournament unique to Berkeley, at least in the Bay Area. It offers a particular challenge, with little margin for error or correction, given the limitation on the number of shots available. This year’s event was no different. Andy Vevers, a relatively new BLBC member (but not a new bowler—San Francisco is his other club) topped a strong field of 12 players to become the 2018 winner.
Our new Tournament Director, John Hooper, experimented with the format a little, dividing the 12 participants randomly into three groups of four, with each group playing a mini-round robin in the morning. The rules provide that the top player in each group, plus the best second placed player overall, would proceed to the semifinals. All matches were played to 12 ends.
By lunchtime, Shawn Roney, Jim Corr, and Andy had emerged as winners of their respective groups and Rob Hoey was the best placed second player. The semis matched Shawn against Rob and Jim against Andy. Both semi-finals were close fought, resulting in a final match-up of Shawn v Andy. Well, the spoiler alert has already been given. Through the steady, consistent bowling he had shown all day, Andy pulled away and is this year’s well-deserved champion. Congrats to Andy and thanks to all who made the event run smoothly, not least our volunteer markers and the always-appreciated Hospitality Committee who made sure there were sufficient “goodies” to keep participants supplied with nourishment throughout the day.
Seasonally late rains had been washing over the Bay Area all week, and it looked like touch and go whether the annual Berkeley-Palo Alto Meat Axe Tournament would be rained out (as had PIMD’s Opening Day just one week before). But the weather gods relented at the last minute, albeit with an unseasonable chill in the air, allowing 5 Triples teams from each club, including several novices, to assemble on Berkeley’s green March 24 to renew this now vintage competition.
The conditions, however, did not hinder a morning of fine bowling all round, at the end of which Berkeley led by 4 games to 1 and looked comfortably in control. However, Palo Alto wasn’t giving up that easily. As the afternoon games finished one by one, Palo Alto took three of them, resulting in a 5-4 position in Berkeley’s favor as the crucial final game drew to a close.
When the skips took to the mat, Berkeley was up by three points in the game, but down two in the head with two excellent bowls by PA’s lead (and a novice), Rose Selby, sitting within inches of the jack. But Rose soon learned the eternal fate of leads everywhere as John Luster, Berkeley’s skip, rolled a perfectly weighted bowl to exactly the right place even closer to the jack and leaving Bud Birkenseer, skip for Palo Alto, few options. Despite valiant efforts, Bud could not dislodge John’s bowl, and the much-coveted trophy reverted to Berkeley again with a 6-4 victory on the day.
Palo Alto took the loss with graciousness and bold cries of “See you next year!” when they will have the home advantage. All agreed that it was good to get back on the green and looked forward to a highly competitive season–in hopefully better weather–in the months ahead.
[Contextual note: The Meat Axe Tournament between Berkeley LBC and Palo Alto LBC began in 1958 as a bowling equivalent of the “Big Game” between Cal and Stanford. One of several traditions surrounding that match-up is that the victors get to carry off the “Stanford Axe” at the end of the game and hold it for the coming year. We bowlers have carried on that theme with our butcher’s cleaver mounted on a plaque highlighting each year’s winner. While we don’t (yet!) have our own Wikipedia page, the trophy is cherished with no less intensity than its footballing archetype.]
You can never have enough bowling…especially in California. The 2018 PIMD bowling season has not started yet, but we recently held our John Ogden Winter League which is bowled over three consecutive Saturdays.
This was the first tournament hosted by the San Jose LBC since installation of their new carpet last year. Fourteen pairs hailing from all Bay Area clubs joined
in the fierce competition. It was a full round-robin with four 10-end games each of the first two weeks, 5 games on the last day of competition, and bowlers using just three bowls each.
The final ranking speaks for the quality of the players and play. The first-place winners were in first place throughout and never lost their lead, despite losing one game in the final week. The winning team consisted of veteran Frankie Napoli (Rossmoor) and our own – still a novice – Giulia Gallo (Berkeley). They came in with an impressive 11 wins, 1 tie, and just 1 loss.
Finally, Rob Hoey and Shawn Roney got third place, and other Berkeley bowlers did very well including the following teams:
Laile Giansetto & Dave McMullen
Jim Corr & Bob Schwartz (dual member from PA)
John Hooper & Cris Benton
Congratulations to one and all!
We promote the game of lawn bowling for the enjoyment of new and experienced players alike.