Why Bowling Is So Special

California Bowling News
by Fred Eisenhammer

Johnnie and Scott Englehart racked up a memorable feat in October 2014. They each racked up a 300 game and 800 series on the same night and at the same bowling center. It was the first 300 and 800 series for Scott, who provided a climactic finish. Photo by Fred Eisenhammer

Johnnie and Scott Englehart racked up a memorable feat in October 2014. They each racked up a 300 game and 800 series on the same night and at the same bowling center. It was the first 300 and 800 series for Scott, who provided a climactic finish.
Photo by Fred Eisenhammer

Take-your-breath-away moments.

Bowlers often experience these special events when they produce results that few believe were possible.  These feats could be remembered for minutes or months. Or years or decades. It all depends on how memorable they are.  And that’s what makes bowling so special.

Bowling is filled with special moments, which include highlight games or highlight series that are unforgettable. Each week bowlers are hopeful they can produce take-your-breath-away moments. Typically, they don’t come. But just when bowlers least expect it – poof. Something magical appears. They find themselves in a “zone” and can’t miss. The rhythm is there and everything is in synch. Best of all, the pins are obliging. Those seven and 10 pins that wiggle actually fall. Messenger pins come from nowhere to make improbable knockdowns.

It happens.

And that’s what makes bowling so special. That’s because one doesn’t have to be Pete Weber or Jason Belmonte or Kelly Kulick to do something extraordinary.

For one game – or one series – one can bowl just as well as Weber, Belmonte and Kulick. Or even better. It can be a mystery how it happens. But it’s fun when it does It’s also nice when a reporter documents these feats so the stories can be passed around the social media loop and seen by dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of friends and family.

There were two take-your-breath-away bowling moments last month – both from out of state. They both eclipsed United States Bowling Congress records.

The reaction from the principals was as expected – it was, “Wow. Look what I did. And what a great feeling it is.” Chuck Foudray of Green Bay, Wis., carved out his take-your-breath-away moment by bowling an 810 series with games of 254, 278 and 278. Foudray, at 84 years, 3 months and 28 days, was the oldest bowler to roll an 800 series and he did it in the Manhattan Fun League at Manhattan Lanes in De Pere, Wis. Foudray had bowled one previous USBC-certified 800 – that coming in 2010 with an 815 series. Foudray was ecstatic about his record-breaking effort. It was, after all, a take-your-breath-away moment in the life of Chuck Foudray.

Said Foudray: “This is something I never expected to do, but it was one of those days where everything just went right. I had 532 after two games and really just wanted to shoot 700. Getting to 800 never was a thought, and I don’t think anyone even realized it was happening.”

And he added: “I’m still trying to get used to the idea of being a record holder. I was as amazed as anyone else. I’ve been bowling well this year, and that’s my main goal when I go out there. I’m definitely not out to break any records, which makes this even better.”

Foudray shared the spotlight last month with three bowlers who combined to set a USBC record for a team score for one game while competing at Candlelite Bowl in Bridgeport, Mich. The team of Bobby Sanch, Brian McMahon and Steve Novak rolled games of 300, 299 and 300 for an amazing 899 score. That one-game total broke the previous mark of 897.  Novak, like Foudray, was quite touched. It was probably a once-in-a-lifetime event and Novak knew it.

“This definitely by far is the best accomplishment I’ve been a part of in a league setting, and it was a lot of fun. The whole league stopped and watched our 10th frame, and that was really cool,” he said.

“Any of us could shoot 300 on a given night, but for all of us to have a chance at the same time was something we’ve never experienced. Even though we didn’t get the 900, we did do something that’s never been done, and that’s special.”

Those special moments appear in the L.A. area from time to time. And there have been many of them. Perhaps my favorite emotional moment in my five years as a bowling reporter took place Oct. 13, 2014 at Winnetka Bowl.

A father and a son turned in a feat that sent a buzz racing through the entire Los Angeles area. Johnnie Englehart, a superstar bowler, and his up-and-coming son, Scott, both knocked out 300 games and an 800 series on the same night at the same bowling center. They were on different teams – bowling eight lanes away.

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 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.

USBC spokesman Terry Bigham said he could not find any instances of a father and son both pulling off a 300 and 800 on the same night at the same bowling center. “Exceptional,” is how he put it.

For Johnnie, it was a take-your-breath-away moment that literally took his breath away. Johnnie, seemingly never at a loss for words, was left somewhat speechless after it all happened. “This will stay with me a long time – only because of my son. Words can’t describe it,” he said.

For Johnnie, who has accrued dozens of good friends through the years because of his classy persona, it was his 63rd perfect game and 66th 800 series.

But those personal achievements paled to what really meant something to him. It was watching his son put the finishing touches on an unbelievable night with a clutch, so-memorable ending.

Said Johnnie: “As a parent, that’s one of the things you live for. It was great to be part of it.”

Yes, this was definitely a great take-your-breath-away moment in the world of bowling. Difficult to find anything better.

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