by Fred Eisenhammer
WINNETKA – Seconds after it was over, Chris Ivey addressed the approaching throng of onlookers.
“Thanks everyone for not crowding behind me,” said Chris triumphantly. He was beaming after completing his first perfect game in dramatic fashion.
Chris appreciated that he wasn’t distracted by a swarm of people huddled behind him for his final shot. “I really think it made the pressure less,” Chris said. “It really helped there wasn’t a big crowd behind me.”
A powerful right-hander, Chris easily ripped through his first 11 shots with explosive strikes in his first game of “Guys and Dolls” league play last week at Winnetka Bowl. His final shot – and his bid for a 300 – was an absolutely hold-your-breath moment.
“I really felt nervous and tried to bottle it up,” said Chris about his 12th shot. “I threw it as hard as I could and hoped for the best and I got a good result.”
What Chris got was a shot that seemed to leave what he called a “spinning-drunk 6’’ pin. “I thought I had a 299,” said Chris, whose previous best was a 296. “I was ready to cry and then it fell over for a perfect game.”
Ace bowler Joe Curry was watching nearby and said Chris’ final shot “came in a little high, but it still carried and that’s all that mattered.”
Chris, 31, said he had been “striving religiously” for a perfect game for the last two years. He’s averaging 209 and has blasted games of 278, 279 and 288.
He got a huge cheer after finishing his perfect game and the noise reverberated throughout the bowling center for nearly a minute. “I loved the ovation from the entire bowling alley. It gave me chills up and down my spine,” he said.
Chris added games of 189 and 217 for a flashy 748 series. That put him 10 pins below his best-ever series. He said bowling an 800 series was his next order of business.
Chris said he had no premonition or inclination that he was about to record his most memorable bowling feat. But his girlfriend, Michelle Resnik, believed it was just a matter of time.
“I told him that when he least expects it, he will get a 300. And he did,” Michelle said.
Curry, who bowled his first two perfect games a month apart last year, said Chris may just be getting started.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Chris gets another  next month,” Curry said. “They come in spurts.”