EARL BALL INTRODUCES THE ARTICLE: in 2020
Hi Stan, Great fun revisiting great times! As most everyone must know, Glen “the Golden Bear” is still playing. He plays well but the days get long.
Dave Minnich just played the last tournament of his career at Betmar in early March, 2020. Duane Cross gave quite a sendoff message. If He’s reading this I’m sure he will send a copy along. Duane are you listening!!!!
Dave says he’s done because he is going to move into an Assisted Living Facility. I don’t believe him though; I’ve known Dave for over 20 years and I’m sure he has moved 10 times. That’s what he does. He’ll be Back. Earl. And now the article.
AVON PARK CHAMPIONSHIP WON BY “WILY OLD VERTERNS!!”
Earl Ball speaks: As I write this in 2004 at Hurricane damaged, rain swept Avon Park was the site of this weeks State Championships! Although the Club lost the roof from seven courts, the tournament started in bright sunshine allowing the field to get off to a good start before the rains limited play to the 15 courts left under cover.
The excitement was in the men’s field beginning in the semi finals when 21 year veteran, seeking his 20th straight “Masters” berth and the modern day record of 1000 career points, Glen Peltier and partner, new “Hall of Famer” Dave Minnich, took on the team of Mike Vassalotti and Grant Boshart, both “Masters” qualifiers and tournament favorites. The first game went to the favorites in a blow out with the second game being eked out by the wily veterans, who won the lag for color and blew out the favorites to move to the finals only to find the “young upstarts” waiting for them!!
Yes, it was new “Hall of Famer” Earl Ball and the Young Stud, the best player in the game, Stan Williamson, who breezed through their bracket, licking their chops, waiting for a shot at the accomplished veteran team. Ball, playing the head against Peltier, offered Glen the opportunity to “give up”, trying to spare the wily old veteran sure defeat. Glen would have none of it!! The game started as envisioned with Ball and Williamson having their way, building a big lead, but Peltier and Minnich “hung in” and just when it looked like it was over, long time star Peltier showed the upstart Ball how he got where he is by knocking two of Ball’s blocks into the kitchen finishing with 10 and 3 0ff to take the opponents out of the 60’s. Ball had one last chance! Going for two, he buried one down the ally and shot his hammer to put Stan in position to win but missed, hitting the 7-8 line Williamson with a chance to with a 10, left Minnich’ s 8 on the board, but Williamson’s trade mark shot came up short giving Peltier a chance to do the unthinkable of winning the game with a “hammer”. He blasted three in the bushes and then calmly, as is his way, laid in a perfect 8 to win the game. A bit deflated, Ball and Williamson got off to a slow start in the 2nd game but came roaring back to get in position to win with a “Hammer”. Trailing 71-70 all Ball had to do was keep the board cleared off for victory, but he “stuck” and the wily old veteran did it again, slipping in the winning block and pulling off the upset!! Very little was heard from the grandstand as the shock registered, Ball could be seen marking this one in his book to be avenged later in spades.
The excitement in the ladies division came early as eventual Champions, “Hall of Famers”, Diana Morrison and Ellen Davis fought for their lives against a local team of Irene Cowell and partner Floyann Frey to remain in the main event. Last weeks Betmar Champions, Dorine Bessette and Edna Triplett took out tournament favorites and long time “Hall of Famers” Joan Cook and Joan Wheeler in the 1/4s, that won’t set well and I’m sure will be revisited many times this season!!
Earl Ball 2004 10 13
Stan’s Note entered 2012 06 24. Almost 8 years have passed since Earl, a significant contributor to the Shuffler Website, sent along the article. The tournament described by Earl in 2004 would have been only the 1st or 2nd “State Tournament” hosted by Avon Park.