Seeking perfection — one more ball — and the rack comes down

All bowlers dream of shooting that elusive perfect 300 game. Most of us will never realize the dream of course, but the way Troy Walker lost his shot at fame makes for the ultimate head scratcher.

If you have not heard the story out of Houston, Tex. let me fill you in. Walker was bowling in a charity tournament in August and had strung 11 straight strikes. Just one more accurate delivery and that sought after moment would come true. Perfection would be his.

He stood on the approach and like his previous efforts, the ball streaked for the pocket. Just prior to its impact with the pins however, the rack mysteriously came down throwing his ball back from whence it came. I mean, one second later and the ball would have reached its destination. Whether the pins would have all fallen, we’ll never know. The video suggests that they might have done just that.

According to the rules, Walker would get another opportunity to throw that 12th ball. This time his shot went high, and he left the 3-6-10. Final score 297. A good score to be sure, but not perfection.

The tournament was being televised and the local announcers could not believe what they had just witnessed. The comments from the two ranged from OMG to Holy Cow. Neither had ever seen this situation and I’m guessing no one else ever had either.

What caused this horrible mistake? Well, in an interview afterwards, Walker himself shouldered some of the blame. Here’s where the story gets weirder, if indeed that’s possible.

Walker was finishing his game on lane 11. The bowler on lane 12 had thrown a ball and left the 4-7. Whether it was nervous energy or just being a nice guy, Walker thinking the bowler on the next lane was finished pushed the reset button for lane 12. When it was discovered that the spare needed to be reset because the bowler was not finished, Walker informed the house staff. He then set up for his final ball.

The lane employee, seeing two full sets of pins on the pair and getting the directive from Walker for a reset of the 4 and 7 pins, thought it was for lane 11. His timing could not have been worse a second later and maybe a perfect game would have been recorded.

For his part, Walker was philosophic about things when interviewed afterwards. His first comment was “that was odd.” He explained what he had done and didn’t seem to be too unhappy about the house mistake. Not all bowlers would have reacted so calmly.

His near perfect game that was denied reminded me of Armando Galarraga’s near perfect game while pitching for the Detroit Tigers against the Cleveland Indians three years ago. Umpire Jim Joyce missed the call at first base on what would have been the 27th and final out of a perfecto.

In a way, Galarraga’s “almost perfect” game might be more memorable than an actual one. You could say the same thing about Walker. As he himself pointed out: “Something to talk about; won’t forget that one.”

There were no perfect games in Tiffin this week and I’m guessing no rack came down to spoil anyone’s evening. However, I am sure that I will be reporting on a local 300 game sometime soon.

Kevin Young shot 704 to top the Twilight League. Tom Tiell had 641 and Steve Barnes 622. For the ladies, Rhonda Fitch shot 604 and Robin Brownell 534. In the Imperial-Majorette League, Ben Hoyda rolled a 696 series while Steve Steinmetz had 608, Bob Eaton 548, Deb Nominee 479, Randi Hossler 448 and Mary Ruggiero 446.

Scores from the Big 8 League included Dave Westbrook 686, Ken Bauman 673, Shawn Fitch 669, Ryan Chevalier 667, Scott Plickert 663, Gary Golden 657, Jeff Smith 652, Brian Soals 653, Mike Babcock 641, Chris King 631, Alex Wagner 627, Aaron Scott 620, Mark Baxter 615 and Rich Yates Sr. 614. Robin Dickman shot 557, Kate Reser 535, Nita Doran 530, Pat Cook 503 and Janet Houk 499 in the Alley Cats League.

In Tuesday Night League action from the K of C Lanes, Tim Sturgill shot 615. Ken Gaietto had 595, Mike Porter 585, Jim Rainey 583, Chris Johnson 548 and Steve Depinet 542. In the Lady Knights League, Marilyn Gangluff shot 472, Carol Burmeister 443, Deb Hoerig 410, Debra Gase 392 and Tammy Schalk 391.

Al Stephenson is The Advertiser-Tribune’s Bowling Columnist

Visit his blog at: