I started bowling 5pin at the age of 2 years old. My Grandmother used to take me bowling. Funny thing she didn’t know how to keep score. She would come home and say “Bill bowled well today …. he bowled 20 or 25 or 30” …. but she didn’t know that the pins were worth 5 or 3 or 2 each ! All she was giving me for score was 1 point per pin … So I was actually scoring more …. who knows what I scored back then but better things were to come !!!
I started bowling 5 pin leagues at age 6. I bowled 5 pin till the age of 11 then I gave it up for 10 pin.
The reason why I gave up 5 pin was one day our family went 10 pin bowling back when Burlington Bowl first opened up ( around 1977 ) and I loved it so much more than 5 pin. I soon joined the Saturday Morning Junior League at Burlington Bowl.
My first year bowling 10 pin I averaged very “average” …. it was like 140 at Burlington Bowl.
My second year bowling I found out there was another Junior League on Sunday’s at Skyway Lanes I joined that one too.
I switched from Burlington Bowl on Saturday’s to Hamilton Mountain bowl.
My second year of Junior Bowling I averaged in the 160’s at Hamilton Mountain Bowl and in the 180’s at Skyway Lanes.
My third year of Junior Bowling at age 14 I averaged 208 at Skyway Lanes and this Association Record stood for almost 25 years ( keep in mind Jr bowlers now can be up to 21 )
Now the fun stuff begins !!!!
Adult League was a big transition for me. I turned 15 over the summer and bowling with the MEN was not easy … I bowled in the very prestigous Monday Night Classic League at Skyway Lanes where all the “Big Shots” bowled plus the Wednesday Night Mens Classic League at Hamilton Mountain Bowl with my DAD. Being a little guy I was more intimidated by the size of the guys more than anything. I always let the score do the talking.
By this time I had opened my first pro shop ( with my mother as my partner ) at Skyway Lanes called “The 11th Frame Pro Shop”. Danny Downs taught me how to drill bowling balls as we purchased the business from him.
I was beginning the venture into Scratch Tournaments …. locally and over the border … one problem ??? I could not drive yet !!! Many of the guys going would offer rides and it helped out quite a lot !!
I remember qualifying for my first “Beat the Champ” TV show in Buffalo, NY. I was 17 years old. This year I also joined the PBA. I bowled a handful of tournaments and went to the ever popular PBA Members School 1 in Indianapolis, IN. After completing members school I participated in my first PBA National Tournament at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis …. I say the word “participated” as I had no chance …. I was so green … it’s kind of funny to look back.
In the summer of 1985 I was offered a sponsorship to bowl the whole summer on the PBA Tour …. a little reluctant at first but I finally agreed to this.
My experience was sub par … and it shattered me. I bowled my last tournament in Buffalo in August of 1985 and threw my equipment in the closet for 18 months …. probably the smartest thing I ever did !!
Don’t ask me why …. but in early 1987 I started bowling again …. my first 3 games back were over 700 …. I had heard at the lanes that afternoon that there was a Beat the Champ qualifier the next week …. so I prepared and made the show once again !!