Finding a Home for an Old Bowling Ball
by Fred Eisenhammer

Russell Booth displays a very, very old bowling ball that
is not quite ready to expire. Photo by Fred Eisenhammer

WINNETKA – Notes, quotes and anecdotes:

Wonder where old bowling balls go when they’re past their prime and they’ve run out of time? Some are thrown out, some are sold (at whatever price the seller can get), some are lost and some are passed on to friends and relatives.

And then there are those that are donated to the local pro-shop. Such was the case last week with an AMF Amflite ball, which was definitely vintage (meaning really, really old, probably made in the 1950s or ’60s).

It was donated to Winnetka Bowl’s pro-shop. The ball came from a Thousand Oaks woman who could not sell it, not even at a $5 giveaway price at a yard sale. The ball was weighed by pro-shop and bowler extraordinaire Karl Kurtz at 12.5 pounds. Did you know that back then that some bowling balls came in at half-pounds? Bowling ace Russell Booth modeled the donated ball (shown in accompanying photo). Incidentally, there’s nothing old about the way Russell is bowling these days – still at the top of his game. He bowled a perfect game this year, his 12th to go with four 800 series.

Think that back-to-back perfect-game performance by Richard Perez III of Vista was a fluke? Think again.

Last week – two months after his 837 series (237, 300, 300) at AMF Eagle Lanes in San Marcos – Perez crushed a 780 series (246, 256, 278). A 900 may be not be too far away . . .

One of my favorite performances came three years ago and it was turned in by a 150-average straight-shot bowler.

This was Rosie Bates, who turned Winnetka Bowl upside down with an amazing effort. After grinding out scores of 124 and 189 in league play, Rosie began a string of thunderous shots that rattled the pins – both literally and figuratively. She struck on her first nine shots before sparing in the 10th and collecting a 10th strike on her final shot. Her 279 final score was 40 pins above her previous high. Ever modest, Rosie, a right-hander, said her strikes in the final game weren’t exactly textbook variety. “It looked like the worst strike hits,” said Rosie at the time. “It looked like [the pins] shouldn’t have all gone down.” But they did . . . and that’s the bottom line . . .

This month, a father and son – Kevin and Travis Webster –turned in a spectacular effort by bowling 300s in the same game while performing on the same league team. That performance at Forest Lanes in Lake Forest was reminiscent of my favorite father-and-son memory.

That event took place Oct. 13, 2014 as Johnnie Englehart, a superstar bowler, and his up-and-coming son, Scott, both banged out 300s and 800 series on the same night at the same bowling center. They were on different teams – bowling eight lanes apart at Winnetka Bowl.

If this wasn’t special enough, it was Scott’s first 300 game and his first 800 series. And Scott put the exclamation mark on his night with a Brooklyn strike on his last shot in his third game to claim both the 300 and the 800 (802: 245, 257, 300). It was pandemonium when Scott’s last shot knocked down all the pins. Johnnie had already finished with an 805 series with games of 300, 237 and 268.

It’s believed that it was the first time a father and son had both racked up a 300 and 800 on the same night at the same bowling center. Said Johnnie: “As a parent, that’s one of the things you live for.” . . .

It’s not easy being a league bowler when the World Series is being shown at monitors at the bowling centers. More than once around the L.A. area, a player was about to release a shot when a thunderous bout of noise shot up around the bowling house. Just the sounds of joy at another Dodger home run. Don’t be rattled by the unexpected noise. . .

Last week, it was mentioned that weddings at bowling centers are special events to be treasured for a long time. Carol Mancini, the editor/publisher of the California Bowling News, responded that she’s actually seen five weddings at bowling houses – three of them at Del Rio Lanes in Downey. “I’ve never seen one that ever lasted,” said Carol sadly.

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