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Isn't it time for you to play?

Polymath in bow-tie wins North Americans

By Will Higgins

AALB Commissioner

Is there any human endeavor or skill

beyond the grasp of Dave Hoegberg?

Intellectual rigor? Check – Hoegberg

has a Ph.D. in English from the

University of Michigan and is an

English professor at IUPUI and an expert

on post-colonial literature..

Physical dexterity? Check – He is a

tennis professional with several major United States Tennis Association titles to his name.

High culture? Check – He is a professional classical singer. 

And now this: On May 11 Hoegberg won the Linear Bocce North American championships. He bested a talented field of 90 participants to take the honors. The tournament marked the 10th anniversary of this fast-growing sport.

“My life is forever changed!” the normally taciturn polymath enthused, moments after entering the post-tournament celebration at the Red Key Tavern, where he was greeted with wild applause. It’s possibly the first time in Hoegberg’s 66 years he employed an exclamation point in conversation.

“Well, he’s more than just a fancy bow-tie,” cracked Michael Thierwechter, the official photographer of the American Association of Linear Bocce, the sport’s sanctioning body. It was a reference to Hoegberg’s neckwear, a clip-on job that looked like something a chimpanzee might wear on stage.

This was Hoegberg’s third try at Linear Bocce. He participated in 2022 and 2023, reaching the final roll-off once. In the final Saturday, under a clear blue sky and a strong wind from the north, he was not to be denied. He upset the heavily favored veteran bocce-ist Dave Frohbeiter. Frohbeiter has been playing bocce in alleys long before Linear Bocce became an organized sport and is a favorite to win every time he steps into the “corridor.”

The field of players was rich in Linear Bocce expertise, featuring four past champions: Jeremy Hatch, Michael Matter, Jeff Norris, Dan Moore and Luke Isenbarger. Actually that’s five.

Like those who went before him, Hoegberg went home with the coveted gold ball, but unlike the others his gold ball wasn’t just a spray-painted bocce ball – it was made of solid gold! For its 10th anniversary the AALB decided to go all out and order up a special ball – at a cost of $127,500.

During the post-tournament celebration, held as usual in the sumptuous back yard of Leigh Hedger and A.J. Mast, it was decided unanimously to give the money raised by the tournament -- the entry fee is $30 a head – to the beloved Red Key Tavern, technically not a not-for-profit organization but a valued Indianapolis institution nonetheless, more valued than most not-for-profit organizations.

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