by Fred Eisenhammer
WINNETKA – Anthony Sharpsteen has a well-deserved nickname. He’s known as “Mr. 888,” or as elite bowler Johnnie Englehart calls him: “Triple 8.”
The monikers are a tribute to Sharpsteen’s majestic performance on Jan. 25, 2011. That was the night when Sharpsteen rifled the top series in Los Angeles-area history. He finished with scores of 289, 299 and 300 during competition in the Men’s Classic League at now-defunct Mission Hills Bowl. Those scores add up to an 888 and that figure has been challenged but not surpassed by any area bowler since then.
Sharpsteen, a right-hander from the San Fernando Valley, talked recently about that historic night while he was taking part in league action at Winnetka Bowl.
And he offered this shocker about his night for the ages. “I was not in a ‘zone.’ I was just relaxed and having fun,” said Sharpsteen, adding that he enjoyed animated conversations with such players as Rusty Bryant, one of his team’s opponents that night.
When Sharpsteen struck in the fifth frame of the final game, he said he felt really comfortable. “That’s when I knew I had the 800. I was more relaxed,” said Sharpsteen, who left only a packed 9-pin and two solid 7-pins that night.
Amazingly, it was Sharpsteen’s first 800 series. Since then, he has added a second 800. His perfect game was his 11th. He now has 13 300s. Sharpsteen’s previous best series was a 797. In fact, he had recorded that mark four times. “Each time, I got a split on my fill ball,” lamented Sharpsteen, whose powerful 888 avoided any chance he’d be known as “Mr. 797.”
Sharpsteen, who was filling in as a substitute that night for Mario Fiumara, remembers clearly that he used an Ebonite Mission ball for his record series. That history-making ball has since come and gone, he said. “It was all cracked out,” he said. As luck would have it, Sharpsteen’s team lost all three games that night. His team lost by one pin the first game, two pins the next game and one pin again in the finale.
Asked if becoming the first L.A.-area bowler to knock out a 900 series is his goal, he said it was. But Sharpsteen, who is averaging 214, said he has a more important mission when he bowls. “I just come down [to the lanes] to have fun,” he said.