by Fred Eisenhammer
WINNETKA – Six years ago, Mike Hahn turned in the game of his life by stringing 11 strikes after an opening spare to finish with an oh-so-close-to-a-perfect-game 290.
At least that was the game of his life – until last Tuesday night. That’s when the 61-year-old right-hander from Reseda blasted a 300 in the second game of a sizzling 720 series (226-300- 194) during league play at Winnetka Bowl. It also marked Hahn’s first 700 series.
“When he got his third strike, I told him he was going to bowl a 300 game,” said Ellie Koops, a member of Hahn’s opposing team that night. “He said, ‘I’ve been close, but it’s never happened.’
“Now it happened. I willed it on him.” Hahn finished his perfecto with a no-doubt-about-it rocket in the pocket before being mobbed by a 50-person throng that included teammates Carol Tucker, John de la Rionda and Joe Curry and opposing teammates Rick Stine, Tracy Stine, Marc Jay and Koops.
Hahn tacked on a strike in the first frame of his third game to wind up with a streak of 17 strikes, which included strikes in the final four frames of his first game. “In the second game, he was in a zone,” Curry said.
Coincidentally, Curry has bowled two perfect games and both came on the same pair of lanes (23 and 24) as Hahn’s perfecto. “That’s a magical pair of lanes,” Curry said. “It’s got good karma for us.”
Hahn admitted that he found inspiration from the opposing team. “Going in, I knew I had to bowl well,” Hahn said. “When you bowl against the Stines, they push you to a higher level. I had to keep up with the Stines.”
Rick Stine is an elite bowler with 22 perfect games. Tracy Stine, Rick’s wife, is another formidable bowler who blistered a 267 in the fall season.
Hahn engaged in a gun-slinging duel with Rick Stine in the magical second game. Rick matched Hahn strike for strike for the first seven frames before losing his shot at his own perfecto by leaving a split in the eighth frame. Rick, who rolled a 300 the previous week, finished with a powerful 711 series.
One thing lost in the 300 is that Hahn was uncertain whether he actually was going to bowl that night. He arrived at Winnetka Bowl sporting a sore knuckle in his right hand and told Curry he had doubts he could bowl. But after consulting with Rick Stine, Hahn went ahead, moving his approach to the right. “Rick gave me directions on how to bowl that night to accommodate my sore knuckle,” Hahn said.
How excited was Hahn after he finished his perfecto? “It was a great experience. Are you kidding?” he said. “It was like a grand slam in the World Series.” Hahn, a 175-average bowler, is one of the favorites around his league because of his fun-loving and approachable style. Even though he received an endless stream of congratulations, Hahn still needed a few hours for it to sink in as to what he had accomplished. “I woke up at 2 in the morning, and I thought, ‘I really got a 300.’ ’’ he said. “It really happened.”