Bad breaks happen in bowling, but this may be the worst one ever

The little white truck was coming down the street. Since I was standing in my driveway I decided to go out to the mailbox and wait. It’s always fun to chat with my mailman. The fact that he is also a bowler means many of our conversations center around the sport.

This time was no exception. Chris Johnson told me about his trip to Warren to bowl in the Inter-City Tournament. He bowled very well in the team event, shooting over 700, which included a near perfect 279 game. His teammates contributed as well and they are presently sitting very high in the standings.

It was not his performance that he was going on and on about, though. He couldn’t believe something he saw in Warren that happened to a bowler he didn’t even know. It was pure and simple a bad break and it made me think about all the bad breaks I have had in 40 some years of bowling.

I will relate the story that Chis told me in a minute, but for now I pose this question to you, my faithful readers. What is the absolute worst break you have had in bowling?

I’ll let you think about that while you finish reading this column. If you can top the story Chris told me, I’ll be impressed.

For me the number of bad breaks I have had in bowling is almost too numerous to count. Of course if you take away the ones that were partially (or more likely fully) my fault, the list dwindles considerably. Solid 10 pins don’t really count here. We’ve all had those.

Perhaps my worst break came several years ago when I strung the first nine strikes in a game. I had never taken a perfect game into the 10th frame before and I was understandably a little nervous. When it was my turn to bowl in the 10th frame, the lanes unexpectedly turned off.

Now if the lights would have been quickly turned back on, there would not have been a problem. Unfortunately, the person (he was new and had never worked the desk before) who mistakenly shut off our lanes, had no idea how to turn them back on. A few phone calls and some 20 minutes later I had my chance at perfection.

Had I messed up the next shot, I could have blamed the delay. However, I struck on the first ball in the 10th before missing the pocket on my next shot. I still like to think it was the bad break that kept me from perfection, but deep down I know better.

Most of you remember the story of the guy who had 11 straight in Texas this summer only to have the rack come down and catch his last ball and spit it back at him. This has to be one of the worst breaks I have ever heard of even though the bowler shouldered part of the blame. If you recall he had mistakenly reset the pins on the lane next to him. When he realized his mistake he called the desk to tell them they needed to set up two pins on the lane he had reset.

At the desk they saw the lane he was on and sent the rack down to reset the pins he had asked for. The rest is bad break history.

So what kind of story did Chris tell me that made that bad break pale in comparison? Well here it is. You can decide if this is the worst you have ever heard of.

A bowler from Cleveland sent his ball arcing to the pocket. The pins all fell down except the 10 pin which momentarily stood rocking. It then decided to go down like all the others and headed sideways for the gutter. The pin was half way down when a pin in the gutter bounced over and set the 10 pin right back up.

Half way down and it gets stood up! You have to be kidding. The story becomes much worse when you find out that it was his 12th ball of the game and the first eleven were strikes. That is correct. When all was said and done the 10 pin stood and the bowlers score became a very nice, but tremendously frustrating 299!

I’m not sure about you, but I’m pretty sure I would have cried. I don’t know if that sad story can be topped, but you never know. Strange things happen in this sport and just in case you were wondering crying is allowed in bowling!

Mother Nature again wreaked havoc with local leagues and that is a bad break considering it is March! However here are the league scores that I have.

Sportsman: Scott Hartsel 723, Jim Mason 674, Rustan Burks 656, Rich Yates Jr. 651, Ron Yentzer 615, Ken Butturff Jr. 604 and Kevin Fitch 603.

Alley Cats: Pat Cook 539, Nita Doran 510, Robin Dickman 509, Sue Stine 503 and Robyn Wight 490.

Twilight: Kevin Young 748, Tom Tiell 673, Kevin Fitch 639, Steve Steinmetz Sr. 613, Nick Bumb 604, Rhonda Fitch 531, Pat Cook 529 and Michelle Wagner 432.

Imperial-Majorette: Steve Steinmetz Jr. 653, Ben Hoyda 653, Tracy Gerber 646, Kevin Young 609, Deb Nominee 477, Phyllis Riley 464 and Phyllis Hyde 459.

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

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