Sometimes this great game just doesn’t make a lot of sense

With apologies to Mother Nature, I don’t think there is anything more fickle than the sport of bowling. I spent a lot of time watching bowlers in action last week as the City Tournament was held. Per usual, some strange things took place.

I’m going to share with you the trials and tribulations of five guys (not the burgers and fries people) who came to my attention. I’ll let you decide if any or all of these stories are explainable.

Let’s start with Jack Book. On the first night of team competition he shot a nice 628 series. Not a great score for him, but good nonetheless. His teammates also were firing strikes and the team rolled a total that would be hard to match the rest of the week. Indeed, heading into the last night of action that score of 3,551 still was solidly in first place.

Mr. Book bowled again on that last night, though with four new teammates. He had to deal with snide comments from his new mates all night long, as they suggested he was going to “throw off” to protect his other team.

He handled the good-natured ribbing well, but ran into a more difficult problem: His thumb was hurting as he had bowled several games in the past week. That would lead one to believe that Jack Book would struggle on this night, right? That of course would be incorrect.

All Jack Book did was shoot games of 269-212-299 for a 780 series. Makes you wonder what he would have done if the thumb was not hurting! I’ve tried to bowl with a sore thumb. It is tough. What Book did was nothing short of incredible and seems to defy logic.

Another bowler who I watched for awhile in the tournament was Darl Elchert. In his first game he threw a ball in the 10th frame that smashed into the 1-3 pocket. What was left was a solid 8-10 split. The look on Elchert’s face can best be described as disbelief. What he was saying under his breath I can’t tell you, but I have a pretty good idea. His only salvation was that the “breaks” supposedly eventually even out. Don’t they?

The bad break in the last frame of the first game was immediately followed by a good one in the first frame of game two. Elchert, ostensibly still seething over his last shot, threw wide of his mark and essentially left half the rack standing, at least momentarily. Soon one toppled, causing another to go down while hitting another and so on and so forth until all 10 were on the deck.

The smile on his face was priceless. The law of averages took over, though if you ask Darl he might say he’s still on the short end of the good breaks. Fickle is this game folks, I’m telling you.

The next two guys are among the throng of bowlers who seem to have a great night on the lanes at a time when I am out of town or otherwise don’t get to publish their scores. Because the city tournament was going on, most leagues did not bowl last week. A few did and as usual a couple of impressive scores were shot.

So I am going to give them their props right now. One guy was Tyson Shope. All he did was shoot a 792 in the Wednesday Morning League. The fact that he shot the score is not that surprising. I’ve seen him bowl and he is very good, but you don’t want to do that the week of the city tournament or your achievement may get overlooked. Not this time, though. Great shooting Tyson!

Another fine score of 570 was turned in at the K of C Lanes in the 55 Plus League. Some people may think that a 570 is not that impressive, but I would suggest that when you are a couple of months away from your 82nd birthday, a score like this is impressive indeed and needs to be recognized. I’d congratulate Bob West on that score if he hadn’t backed it up with a 575 this week! Incredible and cool.

The last guy happens to be yours truly. I did indeed bowl in singles and doubles competition in the tournament and my scores were, in a word, mediocre. It was the night before, in my league, that the unexplainable took place. Against my better judgment, I will share it with you.

In seven frames of the first game I had but two spares. If the other five frames were strikes it would be a great story, but alas the others were open frames. I had a grand score of 76 going into the eighth frame and breaking 100 was not a given. My teammates found that fact a lot more funny than I did, though I couldn’t help but smile ? hey, there’s no crying in bowling!

I was informed that if I got eight pins in each of the last three frames that I could indeed hit the century mark. It always helps to have math-oriented teammates. So in frame No. 8, I leave the 3-6-7 split. Don’t ask me how, I don’t know. I then proceeded to chop the 3 off the six for my eight count. I’m still on pace.

A 4 pin that was converted in the ninth frame assured the 100, right? Well my buddies pointed out that a gutter five wouldn’t be enough. With that sendoff I went up in the 10th and buried three strikes in a row.

Now explain how one can do that? If I could explain it, I would have thrown a lot of strikes well before the 10th!

As league action starts back up let’s take a look at some scores. Greg Tiell fired a sparkling 760 to lead the Sportsman League. Rich Yates Jr. picked up where he left off in the city tournament as he shot 720. Other scores included Phil Neikirk 699, Scott Hartsel 661, Rich Yates Sr. 651, Dick Gabel 632, Don Hannam Jr. 630, Jim Mason 614 and Ken Butturff, Jr. 601. Rocket League scores included Tim Sturgill’s 671, Dave Jones’ 662, Tyson Shope’s 622, Tom Tiell 600’s, Larry Distel’s 599, Beth Jones’ 500 and Dottie Funk’s 483.

Carla Siebenaller shot 554, Jan Houk 493, Robin Dickman 492, Kim Weaver 469 and Lorrie Williams 460 in the Alley Cats League. Imperial-Majorette League scores included Ben Hoyda’s 682, Steve Steinmetz Jr.’s 653, Steve Steinmetz Sr.’s 582, Deb Nominee’s 530, Rhonda Fitch’s 500 and Anne Laughlin’s 467. In the Sunday Night Rock N Roll League Gary Golden shot 670, Tim Bollenbacher 664, Mark Phillips 662, Ken Bauman 636, Greg Kiser 615, Janice Young 500 and Jamie Bauman 456.

Scores from the Lady Knights League included Dawn Davis’ 502, Carol Burmeister 487, Deb Hoerig’s 456, Marilyn Gangluff’s 427, Lela Gaietto’s 427, Debra Gase’s 413 and Madonna Gase’s 401. Jim Ruess shot 583, Bob West 575, Bob Reinhart 563, John Ferstler 536, Paul Gosche 531, Dick Gabel 513, Bill Mizen 510, Dave Everhart 504 (first 500 series), Jim Ferstler 501, Steve Schafer 474, Paul Fey 454 and Jim Donaldson 430 in the 55 Plus League. In the Twilight League Hank Wagner shot 645, Brian Jakupca 615, Tom Tiell 609, Rhonda Fitch 491 and Robin Brownell 482.

Al Stephenson is The A-T’s bowling columnist.

Read his blog at: