Bob Ramsey Snares 1st 300 – at Age 86
by Fred Eisenhammer

Bob Ramsey, shown at Buena Lanes, is averaging 185. He bowls three times a week. Photo courtesy of Buena Lanes

VENTURA – Bob Ramsey acknowledges that he may have recently provided a little inspiration for senior bowlers.

Actually, he provided a lot of inspiration. Ramsey, a Korean War veteran, shot a perfect game during league play at Buena Lanes in Ventura. And he did it at the age of 86.

It was the first sanctioned perfect game for Ramsey, a right-hander who finally achieved his goal of rolling a 300. “It’s everybody’s goal,” said Ramsey, a Ventura resident. “I was elated. I’ve only taken up bowling since I retired at 65.”

Ramsey averages 185 and bowls three times a week. He said he rolled a 300 once before – “and that was in practice three or four years ago.”

Ramsey is not the oldest bowler to roll a 300, but he’s not far from it. Fran Lasee, of De Pere, Wis., blasted a perfect game in 2010 when he was 89. A Fullerton, Calif., bowler tops the United States Bowling Congress record list of oldest players with a 300 at age 90 years 9 months 13 days. That bowler’s name was “withheld by request,” according to the USBC record book.

Ramsey didn’t appear disappointed he didn’t get the record; he just seemed jubilant that he got a perfect game. “I’m not a kid for crying out loud,” joked Ramsey, who turns 87 in December and recorded his masterpiece July 5.

Ramsey’s bowling career was ignited when he joined the Pioneer League at Buena Lanes. He stayed with the league for 17 years. “My wife [Pippi] talked me into it,” said Ramsey about trying his hand at bowling. “I played golf and it got too expensive and I wasn’t that good anyway. I just fell in love with the game.”

He used a 15-pound ball for his 300 and has since gone down to a 14-pounder. What was his reaction to nailing a 300? “I think I was kind of shocked,” he said. “When I was doing it, I wasn’t nervous. I was pretty composed. When people started to congratulate me, I wondered what in the world I had done. Then it dawned on me. I didn’t realize that when you’re 86, people don’t expect this.”

Ramsey said he has bowled series in the 700s. His high, he believes, is 723. Even with the 300, Ramsey maintains a modest profile.

He marvels at the talent of professional Robert Smith, who bowls at Buena Lanes and has won seven Professional Bowlers Assn. Tour titles. “I feel very good about what I did, but it doesn’t make you a super bowler,” he said. “It doesn’t mean you’re going to rip everyone apart. I bowl with guys who are very good bowlers. One of them has five or six 300 rings.” What is Ramsey’s next goal? “I’m going to try to bowl another one if I can,” Ramsey said.