2003 – Pioneer
In Cincinnati the word “bowling” is interchangeable with the name Fran Ruggerie. That said, all that remains are the accolades, the appreciation, the gratitude, the recognition of a rare and dynamic individual. No one has contributed more to the sport of bowling.
Fran’s election in the Pioneer category is particularly appropriate. He was the leading proponent of youth bowling at a time the concept was unthought of by some, denigrated by others, ignored by the rest. But Fran’s concern for young people, his skill as an organizer and his talent for leading brought about programs which expanded over the years, culminating in the development of the Young American Bowling Alliance. In 1949, three years after service in World War II, he begun youth bowling at See-More Lanes and in a few years the American Junior Bowling Congress recognized See-More Lanes for having the largest junior program in the United States. In 1952, with the aide of Erv Hoinke and Herman Mergard, Fran formed one of the first junior travel leagues in the country. In 1981, Cincinnati was chosen as a pilot program for unifying AJBC and YBA. Fran was the prime mover and shaker in the establishment of the Young American Bowling Alliance.
His work on the King of TV Bowling show in Cincinnati, his work on BPAA Advertising and Promotion, his launching of the Over The Hill Tournament and all the programs and projects of more than 50 years involvement bring him to his induction in the Ohio Bowling Hall of Fame tonight. The presentation of the Prestigious Friendship Award by the Greater Cincinnati Women’s Association — the only time it has been or will be presented — is testimonial to the high regard, admiration and personal warmth generated by this remarkable man.