The old time Las Vegas is long gone but there are still a few old timers left that can remember what a fun city this was at one time. Not that it isn’t a fun city today, but just not the same way.
Take the not so "Running Rebels." Back in the late 1960s and through the ’70s, it was just a treat to go watch UNLV play basketball. The Convention Center was sold out every game (around 6,000) and the place would just rock. I ran into Donnie Bader, one of the few remaining living Las Vegas legends, while making my rounds to the race and sports books.
Bader was trying to find a future on total baseball team wins. If you don’t know Mr. Bader it may be because he moves so fast through the books. He’s like a 4-foot-10 speeding bullet. Donnie has been in Vegas before sports books in every hotel and prior to mega resorts and maybe even Bugsy.
In fact it’s like he has been here forever. Donnie looks the same today as he did 20 years ago when he was doing his radio show. Bader has worked in many capacities in his long tenure in the desert, but is most noted for his knowledge on sports. He has a memory like a steel trap.
When we were reminiscing about the good old days of the Rebels and the Convention Center, Donnie remembered one of his favorite games. It was all the way back in 1967 when Houston (then a powerhouse) came into Vegas led by Elvin Hayes and crushed UNLV 103-83. What a memory!
You can run into Bader almost anytime and at any race and sports book in the city. You can’t miss him. Just look for that flash flying by, but don’t be afraid to stop and ask him his opinion on games. One thing is certain, he will have tickets in his pocket and an opinion on whatever game or horse race that may be taking place that day. I don’t know exactly how old Mr. Bader is, but I think if you see him around 10 years from now he will look the same and doing exactly what he has all his life.
Yes, Donnie Bader is a true Las Vegas living legend. He may not be a mover and shaker, but he is what this city was all about. People like him have enabled Vegas to grow and be what it is today, even though we liked it a whole lot better 20 years ago.
Leroy’s in semis
My good buddy Jimmy Vaccaro is very pleased with his inaugural Leroy’s Challenge college basketball contest that is being held each Friday (10-11 p.m.) at the Riviera.
"It has been a huge success," Vaccaro said. "We’ve been drawing real good crowds and are hoping to use this as a springboard to a college football contest next year."
The contest is down the second semifinal matchup this Friday between Nick Bogdanovich and Dave Scandaliato. The winner takes on top seed Alan Boston for the championship next Friday.