Taking a stroll down Memory Lane — from baseball to bowling

Last Saturday I spent most of the day at Hiram College, my alma mater. It was homecoming weekend, but I was there for a dedication ceremony. It seems Hiram is in the process of sprucing up its baseball facility and chose to rename it in honor of my former coach.

Bill Proverbs was a 1958 graduate of Hiram. Following a two-year stint in the minor leagues, he returned to take over the baseball program. From 1960 until he retired in 1991, coach was in charge of some very competitive teams. Proverbs was an outstanding baseball coach, but an even better person. A very deserving choice, I wanted to share the moment with him and his wife Pat.

The dedication ceremony took place near the first base dugout at halftime of the football game and was well attended. When it ended, I said my goodbyes to the Proverbs and walked around the baseball field. I sat on a bench behind home plate and the memories came flooding back.

I recalled a home run I hit against Heidelberg here in Tiffin. I remembered getting spiked in the knee in the first game of a doubleheader and having to go up to the field house for stitches. I returned to some cheering students before the game was over, determined to play in the nightcap. Coach decided we should wait and see; perhaps I could come off the bench.

He knew better. By the time the second game started I could barely walk. I also remembered making an error in my final game — played in the rain at Allegheny — that cost us the league championship.

I said the memories came flooding back. I didn’t say they were all good ones!

As I drove home, my mind turned to this column. I had promised to switch from golf to bowling (apparently more than once!) and was thinking about what my topic would be.

It has been 45 years since I graduated from college and 40 years since I first participated in a bowling league. Four decades of throwing the rock has produced a lot of memories as well. I’d like to share some of them with you and take a look at where the sport of bowling is headed.

There are similarities between the two sports. Just look at the heading for my bowling columns. Striking out occurs in both baseball and bowling. Striking out in bowling is a good thing. Doing the same thing in baseball depends on the situation. As a hitter, striking out is a bad thing. If you are the pitcher however, striking out your opponent is a good thing.

For me personally, bowling began when baseball playing days ended. In 1976 I was still playing baseball for the Tiffin Elks. When I chose to stop playing baseball I was asked to play softball. It turns out one of the guys on my softball team was a bowler and his team needed another body. I agreed to give it a try though I knew very little about bowling.

He said that really didn’t matter. I could learn on the fly and that’s exactly what I did. I found a house ball that did not really fit my hand, but I liked it and used it for a couple of years. I bought my first pair of bowling shoes long before I got my own bowling ball.

I remember my first set of teammates. Over the years I have had many different teammates, but there is something special about your first ones. I remember many of my opponents during those first seasons. Some were great guys; a few were gruff and I chose not to cross them.

I remember how much fun I had. It was like playing college baseball all over again. The competition. The friendships. The good times. I don’t have to think very hard to remember all of those things.

As is usually the case, I have rambled on and this column will have to be continued next week. Tune in then and see if you recognize some of the names I will throw at you.

Here’s a look at this week’s bowling honor roll.

Tuesday Night: Scott Ferguson 633, Joe Lord 620, Steve Depinet 620, Doug Snyder 619, James Lord 604, Chris Johnson 597, Jason Ball 589, Bret Flechtner 580 and Matt Moore 550.

Lady Knights: Carol Burmeister 473, Nerita Streacker 434 and Linda Kimmet 406.

55 Plus: Jim Ruess 587, Jim Donaldson 539, Bob Cleveland 539, Bob Reinhart 536, John Ferstler 504, Bill Mizen 498, Rick Hanna 488, Paul Gosche 487, Jerry Coleman 486, Dave Everhart 454, Al Thomas 445 and Jim Ferstler 428.

Rocket: Tom Tiell 596, Dave Coppus 584, Jason Ball 575, Mike Distel 559 and Tyson Shope 554.

Allen Eiry: Harry Smith 327, Bob Reinhart 305, Bill Steinmetz 302, Jim Donaldson 299, Robin Brownell 286, Mary Cobb 278, Dave Everhart 271, Joanne Elchert 270, Phil Miller 259 and Sally VanBuskirk 248.

Senior: Doug Snyder 610, Bennett Paulus 590, Dan Roessner 561 and Ken Ritzler 508.

Al Stephenson is the bowling columnist for The Advertiser-tribune.com

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