The idea of doing a review of the calendar year may seem a bit strange when the topic is bowling. After all, to do so would mean looking at the second half of last season and the first half of this one. Then again, one could argue that the stories I'm about to relate are not exactly the top bowling stories of 2012. Suffice it to say, if you think what I'm about to write is a little crazy, consider the source. I've been called worse.
2012 began, as do all years, in January with yours truly vacationing in Florida. Not simply a golf trip, I visited the Spanish Springs Lanes in The Villages to see what was cooking. I found out a number of things including that every league had a team called the Village People. What one could do with bowling shirts for those teams.
I also found out that bowling is the most popular sport in The Villages, narrowly edging out golf in a local survey. This was evidenced to me by the fact that all 32 lanes were occupied on the evening I dropped in. The same scene was repeated the following morning. Full house last night and again this morning I thought. That reminds me of an Ann Landers column from years ago. See me, ask me.
Also in January, the Northern Ohio Bowling Conference held a tournament for high school bowlers. Local bowlers fared quite well and a few of them were rewarded. Admission was charged for the event and that money went to the top three boys and girls bowlers. Actually, it went into the USBC SMART Fund to be used for a college education. Now that's smart!
February brought the annual city bowling tournament. Stiney's Three Oaks won the ladies team title, while Bascom Elevator did the same on the men's side. Singles titles went to Robyn Wight and Frank Martinez. Martinez then teamed with Justin Hoepf for the men's doubles crown. Mom and daughter, Jan Houk and Heather Butler won the ladies doubles competition.
One of the funnier moments in the 2012 tournament took place when a bowler threw two consecutive balls in the channel before realizing that he had thrown someone else's ball. Looking much like his own, it was obviously bigger as the ball fell off his hand and into the gutter, not once, but twice before the discovery was made.
March brought some good bowling to these pages as Greg Tiell and Jim Ross shot 299 games minutes apart in the Big 8 League. Both keglers left solid ten pins on their last shot denying them of perfect games. It was also in March that I went to Detroit for a PBA tournament. It was there that I concocted my first April column which was published April 1.
I told of winning the most photogenic bowling fan contest that rewarded me with a trip to Las Vegas. Most people realized it was part of an April Fool's Day joke immediately and I'm guessing the photogenic part tipped them off. Some people were taken in though as I (cleverly) kept the ruse a secret until the final paragraph, which some people apparently didn't bother to read. I had more than one congratulatory phone call from readers and an email from a couple that told me they really enjoyed a laugh once they realized what was happening.
The summer months were devoted to golf stories, but here's one that involves both sports. Sherm "Big Daddy" Wilkins from Terre Haute, Indiana notched his first ever hole-in-one on Father's Day 2012. The 72-year-old turned around the next evening and bowled a perfect game in a summer league his fifth career 300. The man adds a new dimension to an old argument. Which is more difficult to pull off the ace or the perfecto? Personally, I think just living to his age and being able to compete in both sports may be tougher than either outstanding accomplishment.
As this year's bowling season began to heat up, October brought a return to the old days at Dunn's Lanes as proprietor Pat Weidner had to oil the lanes by hand. It was also the month that I tried to intimidate my opponents with a game face that was, well, less than intimidating. Laughter from my opponents as well as my own teammates told me the effort was fruitless.
When the calendar reached November local bowlers started to get serious. Rich Yates Jr. posted perfect games five days apart. Just your average week I guess, but Richie's feats were definitely a harbinger of things to come.
December started with John Funk firing a huge 820 series in the Rocket League. George Holscher from Chesapeake, Virginia fired a perfect game from his seat in a wheelchair no less. Then two weeks ago, Dustin Soals shot 300 joining his father Brian and his grandfather Dick Soals on the family perfection list.
Five days after Dustin lit up the lanes, Greg Soals shot a perfect game. Greg would be the son of Brian's brother Tom. I've bowled against Tom and he can throw the rock too. As of now though, he's hearing it at family outings. Something about the only one not to have
So what's in store for 2013? Well, I'm guessing there are some more great bowling scores yet to be shot. Whether any of them will be shot by me is certainly questionable at best, but you never know. I am going back to The Villages in another week. I will be teeing it up before returning for the second half of the bowling season.
Do you suppose an ace is in my future? How about a perfect game? One never knows, but "Big Daddy" sure has me fired up!
Al Stephenson is The A-T's bowling columnist.
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