Woodling: Glass back in business

You might categorize Bob Glass as Lawrence’s most successful Baby Boomer. At least in the world of professional sports.

Eight years ago at the age of 50, Glass pursued his dream of becoming a professional bowler by joining the Senior PBA Tour. Glass made a lasting impact on that circuit, too, earning thousands of dollars and three Player of the Year awards.

But now Glass is one of us again, just another working stiff.

When the 2006 PBA Senior Tour opens this weekend in Manassas, Va., Glass won’t be there. He’ll be in Topeka, where he works full-time as a managing economist for the Kansas Corporation Commission.

“I sure don’t miss the travel,” Glass told me. “I’ll miss the guys on the Tour, but when your shoulder, knee and back hurt, it just isn’t fun anymore.”

Over the last eight years, Glass was forced out of a handful of tournaments because of knee ailments and back woes, but he always came back. Last season, despite pain in his right throwing shoulder, Glass led the PBA Senior Tour in points while finishing second in average (224.5) and earnings ($38,500).

When he returned late last summer to Lawrence after the last stop on the Tour, Glass learned he had landed the position with the KCC, so he quit bowling in hopes his shoulder would heal with complete rest.

“It’s a torn rotator or something,” Glass said. “I’ve done physical therapy, but there’s still a grinding in it.”

Rest, he hopes, will be the panacea. In the meantime, you might spot him bowling at Royal Crest Lanes or perhaps even at the Jaybowl in the Kansas Union.

Wait a minute. How can you bowl when you’re resting your arm?

“I’ve been bowling left-handed,” he said. “It’s frustrating. After awhile, you can get the basic rhythm down, but I have no idea where the ball is going. Everything looks different.”

Nevertheless, his scorecard doesn’t look that much different.

Glass hit the lanes with his grandson the other day and, while slinging as a port-sider, rolled 207-206-216. I don’t know about you, but it would take me two weeks to roll a 629 series left-handed.

At the age of 58, Glass would still be a relative youngster on the PBA Senior Tour because many men in their 60s are still competing. In other words, Glass could make a pro comeback in 2007.

In the meantime, he is back doing what he did before he quit his job as an economist for Kansas University’s Institute of Public Policy and Business Research in 2000 to become a pro bowler.

The man who was named PBA Senior Bowler of the Year in 2000, 2001 and 2004 is a think-tanker again. Glass, owner of a doctorate in economics, is working on a project to evaluate the feasibility of wind energy in Kansas.

So instead of making long drives from distant city to distant city on the pro bowling circuit, Glass now makes a daily 20-mile commute to Topeka from his northwest Lawrence home.

“The sun is in back both ways,” Glass said. “I can’t complain.”