Elite Bowler Rick Stine Rolls a Powerful Number but There’s a Surprise to It

by Fred Eisenhammer

Ellie Koops helps Rick Stine celebrate his 257 as a left-hander at Winnetka Bowl. Photo by Fred Eisenhammer

Ellie Koops helps Rick Stine celebrate his 257 as a left-hander at Winnetka Bowl. Photo by Fred Eisenhammer

WINNETKA – After Rick Stine blasted seven straight strikes to begin his first game last Tuesday, he called his hot start “unexpected” and “abnormal.” Unexpected and abnormal?

Isn’t this the Rick Stine who has clocked 18 perfect games and five 800 series?

Isn’t this the Rick Stine who has crushed an 845 series?

Isn’t this the Rick Stine who blasted a perfect game at age 18 just six months after taking up the game? Well, yes, but he accomplished all those feats right-handed.

Stine changed things up last week in the “Guys and Dolls” league at Winnetka Bowl by bowling with his off hand. Stine, a 53-year-old Porter Ranch resident, does this from time to time to increase the enjoyment of the game – though his teammates sometimes encourage him to stay right-handed where they surmise he can bolster his team best with his stratospheric 230 average.

So Stine, who is uncommonly modest, will be bowling the “Guys and Dolls” summer session as a left-hander.

And he provided a thrill last week by scoring a left-handed personal best 257 in his first game. Stine, a smooth-rolling machine as a righty, finished with a stirring 615 series left handed by tacking on games of 203 and 155.

Marveled teammate Ellie Koops: “He does the same thing but as a left-hander. He’s a mirror image of what he does as a right-hander.” Stine, who also bowls with teammates Marc Jay and wife Tracy Stine, rolled a rather pedestrian 465 series (left-handed) the previous week – the league’s opening week of the summer. So his series improved exactly 150 pins as he boosted his team to three of four points for the week.

“It’s for fun now,” Stine said. “I know what I can do right-handed and sometimes I just want to find out what I can do left-handed. It’s an excitement generator for me. It’s fun when you do well. I want to see if I can bowl above 185 [for an average] and use my knowledge as a right-hander and transfer it left-handed.”

Told he did a pretty good impersonation of Bryan Alpert, the national United States Bowling Congress ambidextrous record holder and manager of Corbin Bowl, Stine laughed.

“He’s crazy [good]. He’s skilled,” Stine said. “He can absolutely roll the ball. It would take me years to impersonate that. It’s part of his blood. You have to have a passion to be as good as he is.”

Stine, a “Guys and Dolls” favorite because of his low profile despite a high average, makes it clear he is definitely not ambidextrous. He’s just out to have a good time.

“My fear is embarrassment – on the way to the line, I’ll drop the ball or roll it in the gutter,” he said. Stine added that scoring a 257 left-handed was a definite highlight for him.

“I just felt like I had a lot of luck,” he said. “I felt really fortunate. That’s what makes it exciting. A 257 is really a big number for me. I likely won’t achieve that again. “I was doing my best not to fall down at the line. It was fun to watch the ball travel to the pocket. Every single ball was an adventure. Getting the first seven [strikes] was like winning the lottery. As much as I’d like to attribute it to skill, it was not quite that.”

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