Turkey Bowl was the brainchild of Walter J. Bucketts (aka Michael Turnbull ’79). Walter is considered to be Turkey Bowl Founder, Commissioner for Life and will be Commissioner Eternal. Earl “Red” Huber, Hitching Post owner, was considered Honorary Lifetime Commissioner and would throw out the first ball at Turkey Bowl with the same degree of ceremony Arnie and Jack get when teeing it up to kick off The Masters.
Turkey Bowl was held on the Monday night prior to Thanksgiving; a day or two before we would leave for Thanksgiving weekend. Bucketts convinced Red to open up the place exclusively for Sigma Nus. In fact, Red would politely ask townies and any sorority girls to leave the premises on Turkey Bowl Monday.
The first Turkey Bowl occurred on Monday, November 24, 1975. The original format included eight, three-man teams competing in a double elimination bracket. About a week prior to the tournament, the Commissioner would select 8 captains from the senior class. The captains would participate in an open draft of players from the House. The teams would create names and some would have team uniforms/tee shirts. "Pepi's Pals", "Ball Busters", "Strike My Hole" and "Stroh's. Who's Next?" were some favorites.
Among the rules:
1. “The Machine Never Lies.” On very rare occasions, the machine might malfunction disallowing a strike or offering an extra shot to a player. Whatever the machine did was “official”. There were no "do-overs".
2. Losing Team would buy the beers for the Winning Team after each game.
3. Any player still “alive” in the tournament was required to drink one shot of alcohol, witnessed by the Commissioner, at the top of every hour.
4. ABSOLUTELY NO PHYSICAL INTIMIDATION OR INTERFERENCE. However, anything goes form a verbal abuse perspective.
The winning team would take the trophy, and win a few cases of Stroh's. The Turkey Bowl MVP, selected by the Commissioner, would also take home a bottle of Wild Turkey. The teams and MVPs would become part of Local Lore and became the answers to some outstanding pledge test questions.
Favorite Commissioner Story: Commander Matthew “Choo” Beck, distraught over a disappointing Turkey Bowl performance and Social Chairman Steve “Orts” Ortner thought it wise to RUN home from The Post to 300 N. Talawanda.
Turkey Bowl continued after Bucketts’ graduation and with his long-distance oversight. The venue was temporarily moved to the Riley Inn in 1980 and 1981 after The Post was shuttered during Red Huber’s illness.