Former Illinois Department of Natural Resources press secretary Carol Knowles found “I Beat the Champs” patches in her father’sbelongings after his passing.
Such is the power of the mementos earned for beating the targetscores set by pros in Beat the Champions, the charity bowlingcosponsored by the Sun-Times and the Chicagoland Bowling ProprietorsAssociation for 54 years.
Contest week for league bowlers is Dec. 7-13. The broadcast oftarget scores, rolled by pros Shannon Pluhowsky and Sean Rash, willair at10:30 a.m. New Year’s Day on Comcast SportsNet, which differs fromthe traditional Christmas broadcast.
Those mementos were a source of intense scrutiny from the lateSeymour “Sandy” Shub, who founded BTC in 1961, when he was theSun-Times assistant sports editor.
“His biggest concern was if [a pro] bowled a horsecrap target,”said retired Sun-Timesman Dave Manthey, the scribe much decorated forhis coverage of Champs and bowling.
When the pros rolled low target scores, it meant many bowlers earnedthe mementos. The most common mementos in the early years werepatches. In recent years, mementos have included such things as keychains and bag tags.
Thousands of women bowlers earned them in 1987-88 when Carol Normanrolled a 501 three-game target. Thousands of men did the same in1975-76 when Ed Ressler rolled a 536.
When that happened, “smoke was coming out of Mount Shub,” Mantheysaid. “Champs was his life.”
More mementos earned meant less money for charity. In the first 53years, more than 5.7 million entries raised $2,793,600.36 for charity,including $34,451.32 in 2013-14.
Charity is what Champs is all about.
That and league bowling. For the first two decades, entry in BTC wasonly 50 cents, now it is $3, often just included league entry fees.
For those who advance during contest week, sectionals are inFebruary. The finals are the first two Sundays in March, where boththe women’s and men’s champions will win a 2015 Ford Fiesta from LocalFord Stores.