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Basketball in his blood

Bösl, 65, still plays competitive basketball

    It is true that a physician, Dr. James Naismith, invented the game of basketball in 1892. “It is not true that I was one of his medical school classmates,” said Dr. Robert Bösl, 65, of Starbuck. Bösl, a physician at Starbuck Clinic and the Stevens County Medical Center, recently started another season of competitive Men’s League Basketball at the Minnewaska Area High School. Bösl is joined by his younger teammates, Ron Johnson (60), Mark Banister (55), Greg Rapp, PA-C (48), Maureen Ricard (45), Brent Barnstuble, MD (36), Ryan Iverson and Tom Giese. Bösl, who was a wrestler when he attended Sauk Centre High School a half century ago, first played organized basketball about 50 years ago when he was on the FFA team in Sauk Centre. “I next played disorganized basketball when I was in Vietnam,” he said. “Games over there were very aggressive and very rough… more like a football game. No blood, no foul.” After the service, Bösl attended the University of Minnesota, where he played intramural basketball and also snuck in several pickup games at Williams Arena. One of those pickup games included a young athlete from St. Paul named Dave Winfield, who later became an All Star and Hall of Fame baseball player. “Dave was a nice guy,” Bösl remembered, who said Winfield was asked to try out for the Gophers after someone saw him playing in some of the pickup games at Williams Arena. After moving out to west central Minnesota and starting his practice, Bösl played for the First National Bank of Starbuck’s team in the men’s league in Alexandria in the 1980s and also the bank’s team in the Starbuck Men’s League. When the Minnewaska Area High School was built and a new league formed there, he formed the Starbuck Clinic team, and he remains playing in this league every Wednesday night during the winter months. “It’s fun,” he said. “We are a little slower than the rest of the teams, but we enjoy it.” Bösl said playing against guys more than half his age can be challenging at times. “And embarassing at times, too,” he said. The Starbuck Clinic team doesn’t win too many games. In fact, they recently picked up their first victory of the season and the first win in a few years just last month. While winning would be great, Bösl and his teammates are playing not just to win, but to have fun and get some exercise along the way. “Our games are generally not too intense,” he said. “Once the other team realizes that we are not a real threat to beat them, the pressure is off. The game lightens up.” Bösl is know as a shooter, and especially behind the three-point line, something that didn’t exist when he started playing ball. “That (rule change) really helped my game,” he said. When Bösl gets hot, he can rack up the points. About 10 years ago, he had his best career game playing for the Starbuck Clinic team. “I made 11 or 12 three points and was fouled on the other and made all three free throws,” he said. “I also made one two-pointer that night, so I finished with 38 points.” How many points has Bösl tallied in his lifetime? He doesn’t have a clue but guessed somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 points. On the defensive side of the ball, two highlights stand out. “Just recently we were playing against a team of young guys and one of the guys (Justin Buysse) stole the ball and was running down for a layup. I chased him down from behind and knocked the ball away to prevent the layup. He is about 40 years younger than me,” said Bösl. Buysse was razzed by his teammates the rest of the game. “They were saying, ‘Do you know how old that guy is?’” Bösl smiled. The other highlight came about five years ago. “Lyle Katzenmeyer was the referee, and he called me for goaltending,” said Bösl, who is one of the shorter players on the court. Bösl also had a funny memory of a game refereed by Katzenmeyer. During the action, the ball hit Bösl’s fingernail on his middle finger and ripped it right off. It was bleeding down his hand so he started walking toward Katzenmeyer with his middle finger raised. Katzenmeyer was stunned at first as he saw Bösl walk toward him with his middle finger up, but then saw the blood and realized what had happened. They both got a good chuckle on that one. The Starbuck Clinic team not only includes the “most experienced” players on the team, it also has the only female competitor. Maureen Ricard, a teacher in the Benson School District, was a three-sport athlete in high school and college. She is currently the youngest member on the team. The Starbuck Clinic team is off to a 1-6 record this season, but there is no sign that this team is giving up the fight. Each year, they are one of the first teams to sign up, after a little grumbling. “Everyone grumbles to me, but in a positive way,” said Bösl.

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