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Skating down memory lane with the Bay Bombers

Posted by Tara Eglin on

If you lived in the Bay Area in the 1970’s, chances are you got a glimpse of Roller Derby while flipping through the channels on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Roller Derby matches at Kezar Pavilion and the Cow Palace were televised locally on KTVU Channel 2 and nationally to over 30 million living rooms in America.

   

Capitalizing on the popularity of roller skating, Chicago entrepreneur Leo Seltzer conceived of Roller Derby in 1935. A contest of two teams with 5 skaters each, circling around a banked oval track, scoring points when a “jammer” would skate a lap past opposing players. Leo’s son Jerry Seltzer took over the reigns in the late 50’s and created the Bay Bombers, a formidable squad that went on to become America's home team, selling out arenas coast to coast.

The Bay Bombers were America’s beloved home team. Ardent fans cheered for their heroes as they slammed their rivals against the rail. Bay Bombers stars Joanie Weston, the “Golden Girl”, Charlie O’Connell, “Mr. Roller Derby” and arch-villainess Ann “Banana Nose Calvello became well known household names.

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