City of Champions

Tribune-Review:

A Bloomfield girl proved she’s a crack shot with a marble Thursday when she won the girl’s division of the National Marbles Championship in Wildwood, N.J.

Alexandra Bauer, 12, beat 24 girls from around the nation who competed over four days this week in the 84th annual tournament.

Bauer was a favorite to become the top mibster this year: She had placed second in the girl’s division last year.

“It’s like the best feeling ever,” Bauer said moments after winning eight games in the final round against runner-up Whitney Lapic, 11, of Reading. “I just practiced more and just got better.”

… … …

Ed Ricci, a marbles instructor for the Allegheny County Parks and Recreation Department, took a contingent of six children to the tournament from Allegheny County.

“It’s great. That makes four national champs in a row from Allegheny County,” Ricci said.

Last year, Keith Moss of the South Side won; Jamie Miller of the South Side took top honors in 2005; and in 2004, Miller’s cousin Carly Miller won.

Pittsburgh owns marbles. I used to play as a kid on a rug that my parents’ had. It had a design that made a very effective boundary.

I never did compete outside the neighborhood, though. I didn’t even know that such a thing was possible, or, for that matter, desirable. Going to New Jersey involves adults, and who wants adults horning in on marbles?

I would chalk this up to the apparent meteoric rise (a strange phrase, since meteors by definition move in the opposite direction) in parental interference in areas that are properly left to children: sports, friends, games, and so forth. I would, had I not noticed that this is the 84th annual tournament, meaning that the tournament began in 1923, when there was nothing else going on to distract people from the great national sport of marbles.

So, hooray for marbles, and hooray for Alexandra Bauer from Bloomfield. She is the Johnny Unitas of little glass balls.

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