by Fred Eisenhammer
WINNETKA – Move over Bryan Alpert. You now have some company nearby in the world of
elite ambidextrous bowling in Rick Stine.
For background, Alpert is the undisputed ambidextrous kingpin. He set a national United States Bowling Congress ambidextrous record in the 1996-97 season that still stands by rolling a 299, 300 and 800 series with each hand.
Alpert, the manager of Corbin Bowl in Tarzana, remains noteworthy with his ambidextrous skills, which often overshadow the fact that he’s a former Professional Bowlers Assn. player who has lost nothing of his pocket precision. In 1988, Alpert won the $20,000 first-place prize in the PBA Kessler Open. Three decades later, he could be a great fit on the PBA50 Tour once he turns 50.
By no means is Rick Stine claiming to be the second coming of an ambidextrous Bryan Alpert, who Stine refers to in the most complimentary terms.
But the fact is that Rick Stine is definitely making his mark as a prolific ambidextrous bowler in his own right. He showed his ambidextrous skills last month by crushing a 290 game with his left hand in league play at Winnetka Bowl. That was a 33-pin jump from his previous left-handed high, which he set the month before.
Stine, a 52-year-old resident of Porter Ranch, has already established himself as a right-handed elite bowler with 18 perfect games and five 800 series.
“Rick was more excited about his 290 that I’ve ever seen him,” said teammate Ellie Koops, who has witnessed three of Stine’s perfect games. “He was like a little kid in a candy store. He never reacted like that on his 300 games.”
“That’s true,” said Stine, laughing. “I was really excited.” Stine’s 290 followed games of 185 and 185 so he finished with a sterling 660 series, 14 pins off his lefthanded best.
Stine surprisingly said that he still feels “really uncomfortable” as a lefthander. “But because I have been able to throw strikes, my confidence is higher. I’m still worried every time I go to the line that something bad will happen because I have less control with my left hand. I’m about half as confident with my left [compared to the right].”
This is just Stine’s second season as a left-hander – both times in the abbreviated three-month summer session.
But Stine disclosed that he will continue as a left-hander in the lengthy nine-month fall season at Winnetka Bowl. “Now that I bowled a 290, of course I want to bowl a 300 [as a left-hander],” said Stine who averaged 189 this season as a lefty.
“I want to give myself enough of an opportunity to do that.” Stine said this has been one of his favorite league seasons. which ends this week with the Sweepers competition.
“I really enjoyed it,” Stine said. “I enjoyed it because of the challenge. Giving my teammates an opportunity to compete with me made it more enjoyable for me. And watching me struggle made it more enjoyable for my teammates.”
Stine’s wife, Tracy, bowls on the same team with him and she said it was “so much fun” to see her husband uncork his 290, which was marred only by a 10 pin that he left on his first shot in his first frame. Stine then picked up the spare.
“He should go for it,” added Tracy about Rick’s pursuit of a left-handed 300. “It would be fun to watch.” Stine wanted to make it clear, though, that no one should confuse him with Bryan Alpert.
“Not a chance,” he said. “He is way outside my class.” Still, a USBC spokesman said while a lefty-righty career perfect game has been done by bowlers on occasion, it remains a “terrific accomplishment.”
Said Stine: “It would be very exciting to bowl a 300 on both sides.”