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HATCH WINS THRILLING LINEAR BOCCE NORTH AMERICANS
He bests two former champs en route to title
Rookie with Swedish-sounding name creates stir
Seven times was the charm for Jeremy Hatch.
Or was it eight?
The veteran left-hander could not recall precisely how many
Linear Bocce tournaments he’d entered. But it was a lot.
Until yesterday Hatch had nothing to show for his efforts.
Now the 47-year-old husband and father of two is the North American Linear Bocce champion.
In windy conditions Sunday, Hatch bested a distinguished field of LB stars to win his first major.
“It’s a great feeling when you see all the hard work pay off,” he said. “Things sort of just went my way.”
Hatch was cagey in discussing his sustenance strategy. He claimed to have taken no food along the way, no cheese, no crackers, nothing. He said he consumed only “carbonated beverages.”
He had his hands full in the early, foursome round. With only a few minutes left in regulation play, Hatch was tied with Dennis Carr at six-all.
Hatch paused. He reflected – on his values, on the meaning of his life, on the meaning of all life. Why are we on this earth anyway? Jeremy Hatch gazed unblinking into his very soul.* He found an extra gear, winning the final two rolls to clinch a berth in the semi.
There he beat five more players, rolling his ball a distance of some 90 feet to within a foot of the pallino.
He cake-walked in the final.
The 2022 North Americans, like all Linear Bocce tournaments, was played on the northside of Indianapolis in the alley between Park Avenue and Broadway Street, north of 42nd Street.
In that six-block stretch, the alley’s surface goes from bumpy, uneven brick to bumpy, uneven cement to bumpy, uneven dirt.
In victory, Hatch was gracious in his praise of the alley’s lack of pretension. “It’s the neglect that makes the alley interesting. Without that it would have been paved over and leveled,” he said. “Nobody wants that.”
The day’s biggest surprise was the stunning performance of rookie Neale Johantgen. The name may sound fake, but Johantgen is for real.
In his first attempt at Linear Bocce, he was paired against not one but two of the finest Linear Bocce players ever to step into “the corridor,” the 2018 North American champ Dan Moore, and the 2019 North American champ Dorothy Henckel.
The odds of a guy in his first year, a guy who puts an “e” after “Neal” and makes that weird “ntg” combination, getting past both Moore and Henckel were long indeed. But he did it, he beat them both to reach the semi-final.
Neale Johantgen would definitely receive the prestigious Linear Bocce Rookie of the Year Award if such a thing existed.
*Certain sentences in this paragraph may contain small amounts of hyperbole.
Meet The Champ, Jeremy Hatch
Education: Indiana University, theater major
Family life: Married; two children; residents of Meridian-Kessler neighborhood.
Fun fact: Hatch was born in South Carolina but lived in Asia as a child -- his dad worked for the Defense Department.
Past athletic success: Member, T-Ball Championship team, 1982, Daegu, South Korea.
Day job: Fundraising consultant for nonprofit arts groups
What he’s reading now: “The Surgeon’s Mate,” by Patrick O’Brian.
Advice for would-be Linear Bocce champions: “For all the youngsters, I’d say, ‘Bend at the knees.’ There’s a lot of people who throw from the upright position. You want to get low -- Roll the ball, don’t fly the ball.”
Special thanks to Chris Hutson and Dynamark for the new Linear Bocce banner!
A jubilant Hatch (left)
with Commissioner Will Higgins