Minnesota and the bowling fraternity was saddened recently with the passing of two well-known local bowlers, each of who were city, State or ABC Hall of Fame members.
Jerry Ernster of St. Paul passed away on Aug. 20th and Earl Johnson of Minnetonka died on June 23rd. We send sympathies to each of the families.
Ernster 70, was nicknamed "The Legend" and he deserved that honor. He began his ten-pin career at the age of 20 and posted many outstanding scores and records in his 50 years of competition. He posted four 299 games and a dozen perfect (300) games. One of those came in the ABC tournament in 1998 at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev.
He was regarded as one of the best bowling coaches in the area, teaching bowlers from beginners to vererans. He was inducted into the St. Paul Bowling Hall of Fame in 1993 for Superior Performance and the Minnesota State Hall of Fame in 2002. Of the many titles he has won, one of his greatest performances was in the Peterson Classic in Chicago in 1974 with an eight game score of 1,695. He rolled eight consecutive 200 games, only the second time that has been performed in the tourney.
Johnson, who was born in Tacoma, Wash. was an outstanding bowler for more than four decades, first in his hometown of Tacoma, then in Chicago under the direction of Buddy Bomar and then to Minneapolis. He was a member of the Minnesota Team in the National Bowling League.
He is one of five Minnesotans in the ABC Hall of Fame. Johnson won three ABC titles and had four other top ten finishes in the National meet. His ABC titles include Regular Team in 1956, Team All Events the same year and Classic Singles in 1961.
He was inducted into the ABC Hall of Fame in 1987.
In addition to Johnson, the other Minnesotans in the ABC Hall include, Bob Hanson of Richfield; Todd Savoy of Superior, Wisc.; Roger Tessman residing in Iowa and Rod Toft of Lake Elmo.
Hanson was inducted in 2002 and has three ABC titles. They were team all-events in 1965 and Regular Team with Mpls. Hamm's in 1970 and 1972. He is also a member of the Minneapolis and Minnesota State Halls.
Savoy, who has done all of his bowling in Minnesota, was inducted in 2002 and leads all Minnesota bowlers with six ABC titles. He was a member of the Minnesota Loons when they dominated in the 1980s, winning two Regular team and Team all events. He is in the Duluth/Superior and the Minnesota Halls.
Tessman got his start in the bowling game in St. Paul. The former meatcutter was president of the GSPA in 1957-58 and served as secretary of the same organization from 1958 to 1961. He originated the SPBA average book prior to his leaving for the ABC office in Milwaukee. He is a member of the St. Paul Hall of Fame.
He was Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the ABC for some 10 years and also served as president of Federation Internationale des Quilleurs world association for seven years. He was inducted in Meritorious Service of the ABC.
Toft, who was captain of the Minnesota Loons during the 1980s, was inducted into the ABC Hall in 1991. He won ABC titles in all events in 1981, Regular team in 1984 and Team All Events in 1984 and 1985.
In addition, he won three titles in the Tournament of the Americas in 1984. He is a member of both the St. Paul and Minnesota State Halls.
3 Minnesota Women in WIBC Hall
Along with the Minnesota men in the ABC Hall, there are three Minnesota women in the WIBC Hall. They are the late Bertha (Bert) McBride of St. Paul, inducted in 1968; Jean Havlish (pictured) of St. Paul/Rockville, inducted in 1987 and Gert Fink of Minneapolis, inducted in 1990. McBride and Fink are in Meritorious Service and Havlish in Superior Performance. She also has two WIBC Titles, singles and all-events in 1964 and a PWBA title to her credit.
3 St. Paul Men have been ABC Prexies
In addition to all of the Hall of Fame members and national champions, which we chronicled in an earlier column, we'd like to mention three St. Paul bowlers who have served as president of the American Bowling Congress. The late John L. Rounds served in 1941; the late Vince Bovitz served in 1978 and Jerry Tessman, now living in Amery, Wisc., served in 1998. Rounds was St. Paul president in 1922-25; Bovitz was president in 1959-60 and Jerry Tessman was prexy in 1968-69. Tessman also served as St. Paul treasurer from 1970 through 1986.
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