Chicago Durbs manager Leo Durocher, a well-known long-time man, said, “Nice men will finally finish. ”
Clearly Leo Durocher never met Dick Ritger.
Ritger, who was inducted into the Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Fame in 1978 and into the United States Bowls Hall of Fame Hall of Fame six years later, has died. He was 81.
Ritger had a front seat for Don Johnson’s famous 299 game in the televised “Pro Bowlers Tour” of the 1970 Tournament, as he was against Johnson in the game. He was the first on the approach to offer both sympathy and congratulations to the depressed, face-down people – not surprisingly, as Ritger was twice selected for Steve Nagy Sports Award at PBA.
Ritger won his 10th PBA title in his career in 1972 (the last year Durocher was manager of the Cubs), but he would win 10 more before retiring. At the time, he was only the fourth player in PBA history to win 20 titles.
PBC and USBC Hall of Famer Nelson Burton Jr., Chris Schenkel’s “Pro Bowlers Tour” broadcast partner on ABC-TV, once described Ritger as “perhaps the most famous of the big players.” That’s likely because he never won a major title, even though he finished second four times in pro-bowling signature events – including that loss to Johnson in the Champions League, in whether he fired 268 in the tournament game.
Ritger grew up in Hartford, Wis., About 45 minutes northwest of Milwaukee. His parents had a 10-storey bowling alley, and the family residence was upstairs above the tracks. That made it possible for Ritger to bowl almost whenever he wanted. With no youth leagues talking about him at the time, he bowled in adult leagues before the age of nine.
He would then major in physical education and recreation at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse. He and Burton were famous on the Tour for their physical condition.
Ritger had his “second life” in bowling as a coach, and over the years his Dick Ritger Bowling Camps have provided familiar guidance and fond memories to thousands of bowlers, including young Kelly Kulick, who joined Ritger. the USBC Hall of Fame in 2019.
Ritger was also a travel coach, performing clinics in 38 countries on five continents. He created a three-part video series entitled “The Feelings of Bowling,” and developed a “Wounded Warriors” tutorial program to help disabled veterans become more bowlers.
Bob Rea, Director of Dick Ritger Bowling Camps, Clinics and Coach Training, issued the following news message:
“It is with deep regret that I announce the passing of our mentor, dear friend and the greatest bowling instructor of the bowling industry … Dick Ritger. Dick had been failing in health after undergoing several strokes over the past few years.
For all of us he spoke to along the way, we will always be grateful to know Dick and to be able to share time with him. In fact, he is one of the best men I have ever known.
He will be greatly missed, but he has had such an impact on his favorite sport cho bowling. Through his books, DVDs, bowling camps and his “Feelings of Bowling” coaching techniques, his legacy will live on. For those of us who were able to call him a ‘friend,’ we will always be the best people for our time with him. “
Ritger was born on November 8, 1938, and died on August 27, 2020. Services are scheduled for Sunday, August 20 in River Falls, Wis. Memorial gifts can be sent to St. Bride’s Catholic Church (https://www.saintbridgets.org/) or the Falls River Food Pantry (https://www.facebook.com/RFCFP/).
Dick Ritger spoke to Bowlers Journal International in late 2018 to run an interview in BJI’s 105th anniversary magazine that year. Recorded, Ritger recalls the most memorable moment of his career as a professional bowler: bowling Don Johnson in the title game of the 1970 PBA Fireworks Champion Championship. You can now read that interview online here: https://www.bowlersjournal.com/dick-ritger-on-bowling-don-johnson-in-the-famed-1970-firestone-title-match/
In addition, Bowlers Journal’s original narrative of Mort Luby Jr.’s legend is on that unforgettable event, which culminated with what would have been voted # 1 in the PBA’s 60 biggest minutes when the build that poll in the 60-year PBA in 2018, also now available online here: https://www.bowlersjournal.com/a-fantastic-finale-mort-luby-jr -s-original-account-of-perhaps-the-best-tv-show-in-pba-history- was-as-live-as-broadcast /