Okay, I will admit to still owning a bowling ball, and shoes. I bought the ball in 1965. That allows me to use this line when I see someone younger than 45…”I have a bowling ball older than you.”
Why talk about bowling? I don’t know. It just crossed my mind while driving today and I actually remembered the thought when I got home. Before starting this I had to go pick up my ball, which I have considered throwing away many times but just can’t do it. You see, that ball has seen lots of action and rolled some damn good scores. I followed such greats as Dick Weber and Earl Anthony. I always rooted for Weber, since he was right handed like me. And Earl had this crew cut going and looked like a nerd.
I took up bowling in 1965 while at RCC. I took a PE class called Bowling 101. My soon to be mother-in-law bowled in a league so I had to fit in. Easiest A I received at RCC, maybe my only one actually. Marge (the soon to mother-in-law) bowled at Magnolia Lanes. For RCC we bowled at Tava Lanes. Isn’t it neat how I can remember each bowling alley but can’t remember where I parked my car today at the grocery.
Buying a bowling ball is stressful. You want to make sure you get the correct fit because once they drill the holes, you are stuck. I out-foxed them. I found a ball I had used at Chicago Lanes (yet another one I remember), ball number 202. When it came time to buy a ball and get it drilled, I walked in with ball #202 and said, drill mine just like this one. They added those three white dots on my ball and put my initials, TWA. Boy was I hot.
When I got to San Diego a few years later, thanks to the U.S. Navy, I brought my ball with me. In 1970, after my illustriousness naval career, the company for which I worked had a bowling league and guess who signed up? It was a mixed league so there were men and women on teams of five. It was a handicap league so, depending on your average, you got so many pins compared to your opponents. The team with the highest net score, after adding in or giving away pins over three games, wins.
Now, if you have or have not bowled, you probably have had some experience trying to learn the scoring system. It is like a high school calculus class…….the following is from a “how to keep score” manual.
There are several symbols used when keeping score: an “X” signifies a “strike” in which all ten pins have been knocked down by the first roll of the ball in a frame; a “/” signifies a “spare” in which the remainder of the pins left standing after the first roll are knocked down on the second roll in a frame; a “-” indicates that no pins were knocked down on that roll, called a “miss”; an”F” indicates a “foul” where a part of the bowler’s body went past the foul line, which marks the boundry of the approach (the part of the lane where we walk and release the ball) and the lane itself, where the oil is placed and the ball rolls towards the pins; and a “O” around a number indicates that the pins left standing after the first roll are in a formation known as a “split.” Some scorers use an “S” in front of the number to indicate a split. Splits occur when the headpin (the foremost pin) is knocked down, and there is a gap of at least one pin between all the others left standing. The terms “wide” and “washout” are used to define this situation except that the headpin was left standing. Sometimes, a “W” is used to indicate this situation, but that has generally gone out of use.
For the most part, you keep score by adding the number of pins knocked down in each frame. Special bonuses are awarded for strikes and spares. When a strike is bowled, the bowler is awarded the score of 10 (for knocking down all ten pins), plus he gets to add the total of his next two rolls to that frame. For a spare, the bowler gets the 10, plus the total number of pins knocked down on the next roll only. In the examples above, you can see that the bowler rolled a strike in the 1st frame, so he gets 10 for that frame, plus gets to add whatever he knocks down on his next two rolls. In 2nd frame, he knocked down seven pins on his first roll, indicated by the number 7. On his second roll, he knocked down the remaining three pins standing, so he gets a spare in that frame, and adds 10 more pins to his score in the 1st frame, indicated by the number 20. He also gets the bonus for the spare, so must wait to roll another ball before adding the score for the 2nd frame. His first roll of the 3rd frame knocks down all but one pin, so he gets to add 19 pins to his total score in the 2nd frame, making the score for two frames 39. The bowler misses the pin on his second roll, so only gets a total of 9 for the 3rd frame, and that is immediately added to the total score, which becomes 48 for the first three frames.
Oh my. No wonder they invented automatic scoring machines. But there was a problem with them. It used to be, in the old days, you could pay your 25 cents and then “practice a few frames” before starting a game. When the automatic scoring machines came around, the game started with the first ball you rolled. What happened to warming up for pete’s sake? Automatic scoring machines ruined the game….lol.
After getting my feet wet in the mixed league, I found my competitive juices were engaged. I began to want to bowl with the big boys in an all male league. One of my co-workers was an excellent bowler. He often bowled in leagues with high level bowlers. I was soon to join his team with my 170 “book” average. Yes, they keep a book of all your scores and keep your league average for the purpose of determining who got pins or who gave pins. My 170 book average was pretty good since the average male bowler at the time averaged 156. When I joined the male team they placed me as the anchor man.
“The Anchor man?” I bellowed. I quickly pointed to my friend, who carried a 185 average and said, “Why isn’t he the anchor man?” I was told he was better off as our lead-off bowler. I cried BS but lost the discussion and became our teams anchor man. Do you have any idea of the pressure on the anchor man when it is the last frame of the third game and you need two strikes to win it? Incredible. There were many times when my ball would be shaking like crazy as I took my approach. Meanwhile smug Chuck, the 185 guy, would just smile at me. Thankfully I was able to do more good than bad in those spots.
Now for a little bragging. You bowlers will relate to these numbers. My high game was 268. I did once roll a 700+ series (out of my mind that night). I once bowled 11 strikes in 12 frames, missing the perfect game by one roll. I started with 5 strikes then left the “5 – 7 baby-split” but missed the spare (I never missed that spare). Then I rolled 6 more strikes to end with a 266. If I had made the spare in the 6th frame, my score would have been 288. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.
That is my bowling story. I hope I have not bored you to death. Next time I will perhaps give you a golf story or two.