Kindred Spirits from Different Generations 

by Dave Williams

(Don’t) Blame the Ball: Earl Anthony, the calm and methodical PBA Hall of Fame bowler on the lanes, was quite the opposite in the locker room, where he once threw a bowling ball onto a temporary shelf and through the adjoining wall. Photo courtesy of Professional Bowlers Association, LLC.

When you look up kindred spirits in the Webster’s Dictionary of the 21st century, Google Search, you find the following definition: “a person whose interests or attitudes are similar to one’s own interests.”

Although I have never met Jef Goodger, I often find myself referring to his “The One Board” column that appears each month in Bowlers Journal International. This month was no different, as Goodger’s latest diatribe focused on bowling balls.

“(Don’t) Blame the Ball” started out innocently enough by commenting on a bowling ball that had been left in the trash at the USBC Championships in Syracuse.

“A ball in the trash is relatively tame,” quotes young Goodger, as he goes on to talk about balls being chucked in large bodies of water, heaved off of buildings, and kicked into oblivion with a particular disdain.

This reminded me of an incident that occurred early in my adult bowling career, when our local group of youth bowling graduates had ventured to Sports Center Bowl in South San Francisco to bowl in the famous Washington’s Birthday Singles event, hosted each year by proprietor Dan O’Glove.

Ironically, the shot at Sports Center Bowl was off the one board, the title of Mr. Goodger’s monthly column. It was virtually impossible to throw a gutter ball, and if you hit the number three board, it resulted in a bucket (2-4-5-8 spare shot).

One of my friends, who we will call Mr. Anon, did not bowl very well on the one board shot at Sports Center, so on the way back to Sebastopol, in Northern California, our caravan of cars stopped on the majestic Golden Gate Bridge at about 3AM.

Everyone was wondering what was going on. Apparently, Mr. Anon was so disgusted with his performance on the one board shot, that he jumped out of the car and threw his bowling ball over the side of the bridge!

It was very foggy that evening, so I can neither deny or admit to the claim, although I never again saw that particular bowling ball in the hands of Mr. Anon.

Goodger goes on to comment about bowling balls being heaved off of buildings, and while this is a practice you would not want to make common in your neighborhood, it did serve David Letterman quite well over the years.

Letterman’s use of Dick Weber bowling outside of the Ed Sullivan Theater in Manhattan on a lane provided by AMF was a stoke of genius for the promoters at the former Fortune 500 company. Weber rolled bowling balls at everything from television sets to eggs in an aquarium.

But when it came to throwing bowling balls off of a building, nothing could compare to “Bob Borden’s Bowling Ball Demolition,” in which members of David Letterman’s audience destroyed a used automobile by dropping balls from a 5 story building. In another episode, Letterman had contestants drop bowling balls from the top of a building into a bathtub full of chocolate pudding.

And what about kicking a bowling ball into oblivion with disdain? This brought back memories of Eagle Rock Lanes in West Orange, New Jersey, the site of one of my perfectos way back in 1984. The locals and regional professionals called it “Easy Rock,” because the lanes were meticulously cared for by general manager Tony Cerrato.

But in the rare event that you did not perform well at Eagle Rock, you could find redemption on the other side of the parking lot, where you can still kick your ball into oblivion at Crystal Lake. During the winter months it’s fun to count the number of balls on the frozen lake, and find out just how far some individuals can kick (or roll) their once trusted bowling ball!

Another reference to kindred spirits found in the annals of Google Search was a quote from Mimi Novic, a new age musical artist. She writes, “Throughout this journey of life we meet many people along the way. Each one has a purpose in our life. No one we meet is ever a coincidence.”

Perhaps one day Mr. Goodger and I will meet in person, but until that time I already feel that I know him through his most entertaining and thought provoking journalism. His unique style reminds me of all the meaningful (and useless) moments during my 58 year involvement with this crazy game we call bowling.