Nicholson earns 47th Flowers Award By Jim Goodwin

    07/05/07

    Column

    2007FlowersAwardLenNicholson.jpg For years, the 2007 Flowers for the Living honoree has had one of the most unenviable jobs in sports. On June 26, during the 2007 International Bowl Expo, the tables were turned in Las Vegas when all the kudos he earned for doing that job so well and under the most trying conditions netted Len Nicholson (on the right) the ‘Flowers’ award. It is an honor presented to someone in bowling who is admired, respected and, indeed, loved.

    This year’s award was presented by Hall of Fame legend Billy Hardwick, and Bowlers Journal Editor Jim Dressel (left), former chairman of the committee.

    Turnabout, as they say, is fair play. In Nicholson's case, we might add, it was overdue. Nicholson was part of the PBA's original lane maintenance team, along with Sam Baca. In that role - either with Baca, or individually - he has been involved in analyzing, cleaning and conditioning bowling lanes in more bowling centers, in more cities, in more states, and in more countries than anyone in the history of bowling. The numbers are staggering. He has been involved in doing the lanes for the PBA for over 800 tournaments, which included the National Tour, the Senior Tour and all of the PBA's seven regions.

    He has the distinct honor of being the only person to have been in charge of conditioning lanes for every PBA member who is currently in the PBA Hall of Fame. This man traveled the PBA Tour for over 25 years and has worn many ‘hats’ in this sport that he loves. As a result, his insights into bowling are unique and often sought after from his peers.

    These days, as host of a 24/7 internet-based bowling webcast, many know Nicholson as ‘The Phantom.’ He has turned ‘Phantom Radio’ into a ‘must hear’ webcast since originating the show in April of 2001. His webcast has attracted a litany of guests and celebrities all across the bowling spectrum in the over 270 shows he's done since.

    As bowling Hall of Famer and longtime friend Billy Hardwick describes him, "Lenny was totally crazy but, everybody loves the guy. You can’t help but like him. He’s a man’s man."

    The Sam Levine Flowers for the Living Award was created in 1961 by the late Cleveland Kegler Publisher Sam Levine, and is based on a poem by former Ohio Associated Press editor Fritz Howell.

    In the poem, Howell suggested that deserving individuals be honored while they were "still alive to smell the flowers." The award is intended as a surprise to the recipient. Honorees are determined by a special committee of prominant bowling writers.

     

    Sam Levine FLOWERS FOR THE LIVING Award


    1961 Fritz Howell
    Feb ‘62 Joe Smolen
    Oct ‘62 Sam Weinstein
    Sept ‘63 John O Martino
    Feb ‘64 Joe Norris
    Oct ‘64 Marion Ladewig
    Sept ‘65 Billy Sixty
    Jan ‘67 Tom Bolger
    Oct ‘67 Steve Cruchon
    Dec ‘68 Bruce Pluckhahn
    Nov ‘69 Frank Sczepanski
    Apr ‘71 Frank Baker
    Nov ‘71 Hank Morino
    June ‘72 Sam Levine
    Jan ‘73 Bill Hengen
    Nov ‘73 Alberta Crowe
    Nov ‘74 Mort Luby Jr.
    Nov ‘75 Fred Wolf
    Nov ‘76 Chuck Pezzano
    Nov ‘77 Eddie Elias
    Nov ‘78 Emma Phaler, Lee Evans*
    Nov ‘79 Dick Weber
    Nov ‘80 Bill Doehrman
    Nov ‘81 Byron Schoeman
    1982-84 The award in hiatus because of death of originator Sam Levine
    Mar ‘85 John Jowdy
    Feb ‘86 Don Carter
    May ‘87 Joe Lyou
    Apr ‘88 Helen Baker
    Apr ‘89 Pat McDonough
    May ‘90 Helen Duval
    Nov ‘91 Jim Bennett
    Dec ‘92 Earl Anthony
    Feb ‘94 Millie Ignizio
    Mar ‘95 Augie Karcher
    Mar ‘96 Bob Zellner
    Mar ‘97 Angelo Biondo
    Nov ‘98 Jack Reichert
    June ‘99 Chris Schenkel
    Mar ‘00 Wayne Todd
    June ‘01 Tom Kouros
    Mar ’02 Glenn Allison
    June ‘03 Dick Stoeffler
    July ‘04 Jeanette Robinson
    Mar ‘05 Pearl Keller
    June ‘06 Walt Steinsiek
    June ‘07 Lenny Nicholson
    *(passed away before presentation)

    Flowers for the Living by Fritz Howell


    It seems that when a fellow dies, no matter what he’s been,
    A saintly chap or one whose life was darkly steeped in sin -
    That folks forget the bitter words they spoke but yesterday
    And seem to find a multitude of pretty things to say.<
    And maybe when I go to rest, someone will bring to light
    Some kindly word or goodly act, long buried out of sight,
    But if it’s all the same to you, just give to me instead,
    The bouquets while I’m living, and the knocking when I’m dead.

    Don’t save your kisses to imprint upon my noble brow,
    While countless maledictions are hurled upon me now.
    Just say a kindly word to me, as I mourn here alone,
    And don’t save all your eulogy to carve upon a stone.

    What do I care if, when I’m gone, the whole newspaper world
    Gives me a glowing writeup and the nation’s flags are furled?
    Why, it won’t flatter me a bit, no matter what is said,
    So kindly throw your flowers now, and knock me when I’m dead.

    It may be fine, when one is gone, to have folks talk so,
    And have the flowers come in loads from all the guys you know.
    It must be nice to have these things for those you leave behind
    But, so far as I’m concerned, I really will not mind.

    I’m quite alive and well today, and while I linger here,
    Give me a helping hand at times, give me a word of cheer.
    Let’s change the game a bit, just sorta swab the decks,
    For I will be no judge of flowers, when I cash in my checks.