Lee, Wolber and Hammill enter the hall of fame

Jack Hammill - Guest Columnist

There was a recent social media post where the question was asked who different people thought was the best Hall of Fame Class of all time. Different opinions were stated prior to one of the best ever and Hall of Fame member Bill Meeker opining – “The next one.”

While I would almost guess that Meeker would say the same thing if asked today an argument could be made that he was correct.

On Saturday evening, Fred and Vicki Wolber, Brett Lee and this writer were inducted in a night where the love and the passion and the respect that each had for the game were clearly on display.

Hall of Fame member and Childers Media Group personality Phil Austin was the emcee of the event. He literally got the ball rolling speaking of the love and the respect that he had for each individual who was being inducted on the evening.

Drew Ambroza continued the trend. Ambroza was one of four individuals honored for their first 300 game as well as being one of the youth bowlers of the year. He spoke of his love for the game and the assist that it gave to him in the development of his character. He addressed the role that family has played for him as well.

Austin and Ambroza opened a night where those elements were very much on display.

Brett Lee was the first to be inducted on the evening. Randy Schroeder presented Brett for induction giving a good hint of what was to come. He referenced immediately that although the bowling pedigree that he was even more impressed with Brett the man.

Lee clearly did not disappoint. The intensity that he is well known and respected for on the lanes was very much in evidence as he spoke about the love that he has for the game and the people in it.

Ever the teacher and coach, Lee offered life lessons to those in the room that were well founded and that have contributed to his success.

“When you are walking up to the lanes you usually step up about 4 or 5 inches. You are now on a stage – own the lane.”

He continued with a lesson that could be applied to the lives of any of us. “I believe in the five second rule. When things do not go the way that you want them to go be upset for five seconds and then move forward.”

Lee kept things in a historical perspective speaking of times at Moreo Lanes and the 455 buckets and the respect that he had for the different proprietors over the years.

He then did his version of pulling a rabbit out a hat when he displayed a bowling shirt out of a bag from his time in junior bowling. It was patch loaded and displayed his sponsor on the back – Alberta Lee Realty – Mom and dad were in the room and the love and respect was very apparent as was the love that he has for his wife and his children.

Clearly the LBA and the Hall of Fame Committee got it right and thankfully after years of saying no to the thought of entering, Brett said yes.

Fred and Vicki Wolber were next to the podium, first loved on by Phil Austin and then presented for induction by Jon Burden.

In his remarks, Burden indicated that the Wolbers had refused any memento for the accomplishment asking instead that those monies be donated to the Lima Bowling Association Junior Programs.

At first it appeared that Vicki by mutual decision was going to speak for the two of them. “We are very blessed. We just do what we can to make sure the people have fun when they come out.”

She then continued, “I really did not bowl, Fred did and I am still not very good at it but I really enjoy the game and the people that we get to see. If it was not for bowling, it would be work and home and back to work again. It is a great release from that.”

The love for her husband and their children was very much in evidence as she discussed how her kids have grown up at the lanes around some real great people and how they have been important people in their lives, especially Gene Sexton when her father passed away.

In one of the lighter moments of the evening, Fred detained her and then shushed her as he spoke of his love for the game and the reason for the purchase of the lanes, now 15 years ago.

“I really did not want to see the building empty. I did not know anything about how to run a bowling business but I did know that we could and would have fun. It was a shame to see it go to waste.”

Fred did offer a couple of other remarks regarding his adventures as a bowling lanes proprietor that will be included in an upcoming column.

As for the shushing, things seemed to be okay as they walked away from the podium hand in hand.

For this honoree, let me just say that the moment finally became real.

I am now a member of the Hall of Fame and could not be happier that service to the bowling youth in our community was my gateway to induction.

I was presented for induction by my good friend Rayleen Arthur and am incredibly honored to be a lasting part of a memorial to the very special Jessica Sanford.

We will hear more about my feelings on the evening when we are next together.

See you around the lanes.


Jack Hammill

Guest Columnist

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