“This past Saturday, Oct. 16, was a memorable day for Rock Island’s Lee “Buddy” Bateman, his induction into the Illinois Bowling Association Hall of Fame.
Ceremonies were at the Empress Hotel in Joliet.
Bateman is quite unassuming over his being so honored.
“I’m quite sure there are many others in the state that are more deserving (of Hall of Fame membership) than me,” he said.
It is certain many customers of Town and Country Lanes, owned by Bateman, would not agree with his opinion. Nor would members of the Rock Island Bowling Association board of directors, the organization that had submitted Bateman’s name for consideration by the IBA Hall of Fame Committee.
“I first learned about being elected to the Hall of Fame about two months ago. That’s when I got a letter from (IBA Executive Director) Bill Chestnut,” the benial bowling proprietor said.
The name of Buddy Bateman has been associated with Town and Country for many years. Now 66, he first went to work there when the center opened in 1958.
About three years later, Bateman began managing the 48-lane center for then owners Al Barnes and Kenny Enright.
“My wife, Mary, and I were talking a few days ago about just when it was that I bought the center. We figured it out it was in 1974 that I agreed to buy, with the deal closed in 1975,” he recalled.
Over his many years at Town and Country, Bateman has never varied from wanting to help people improve their game. In an interview with Bateman in 1985, he said the following:
“My wife gives lessons and I give lessons. I give video-tape lessons. I like to get people I really can help and improve their bowling. I like to do that more than bowling myself, or anything else.
“If you can see them improving, you’re going to keep them in the leagues. I don’t care if they go somewhere else to bowl, you’re going to have bowlers.”
That philosophy has been carried forward to today, with Bateman regularly asking his customers how they bowled on any particular day.
“I want my bowlers to know I care about how they bowled,” is how he explains it.
In 1998, the Women’s International Bowling Congress held their National Tournament in the Quad-Cities, with Town and Country hosting singles and doubles action.
“Having the WIBC (tournament) here was probably the highlight of my years in bowling. It was a lot of work, more than we had anticipated,” Bateman said.
“If the tournament would ever come back to the Quad-Cities, I’m sure they would be a big entry. Everyone made the bowlers feel they were welcome.”
Bateman is a deserving member of the IBA Hall of Fame. Congratulations Buddy.”
-The Rock Island Argus
October 17, 1999