by Dave Williams
As we take a look back with Carol Mancini in the California Bowling News at the year 1985, I am reminded of so many moments of glory and accomplishment, that I’m just not sure how I was able to do all those things during the course of one year.
In terms of bowling it was the highpoint of my career, culminating with a New York state record average (at the time) of 235 in a four member team mixed league. On one fateful evening in March of that year I rolled an 856 three game series, including my 18th sanctioned 300 game, placing me in a tie with Dick Weber, my childhood bowling idol, for 2nd on the all-time list.
Although not a state record (Allie Brandt of Lockport, New York, was the world record holder at that time with an 886 series rolled in 1939), the 856 was a Long Island record that catapulted me to Bowler of the Year honors among the more than 67,000 male members of the American Bowling Congress on Long Island.
Considering all of the traveling that I did for AMF at that time, I’m amazed that I was able to complete 75 games of competition in the league at the famous Deer Park Bowl in Deer Park, New York, with a history of action bowling that continues to this day.
While my bowling career had reached a peak in 1985, my business career in bowling was shifting into overdrive. In that year I was to make my inaugural trip to New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, China and Japan, in a program that AMF called “cross-training,” in which they would send individuals with the same duties to visit their counterparts in other countries to learn and share ideas.
First stop on my whirlwind trip would be a month long visit to Australia, where I would be hosted by Steve Mackie, Director of Marketing for the AMF Bowling Centres chain headquartered in the Sydney suburb of Chatswood. Steve is now the owner of Ten Pins and More in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, where he resides with his wife Dana Miller, and her famous family of bowling professionals.
After what seemed like an eternity of flights, I was anxious to get together with Steve and begin our exchange of ideas upon my arrival in Sydney. It was about Noon when I arrived, so I gave Steve a call to let him know that I was at the hotel and ready to go. Steve cautioned me to relax and go to my room, and he would pick me up on the following day.
As I tried to understand Steve’s cautious attitude about my visit, I adjourned to my room, and as I removed my coat and sat down on the bed to remove my shoes, I collapsed and awoke the next morning! This was my first experience with “jet lag,” something that world traveler Steve Mackie knew all about.
When Mackie met me the next day I learned that he had scheduled me for a series of clinics and exhibitions to promote the new Gold Angle Bowling Ball which I brought with me on my five nation tour. First stop was a complimentary entry into the Australian Grand Prix, the counterpart of the U.S. Open in the land down under.
Without so much as a practice game, I was whisked away to AMF Southgate Lanes in the suburb of Sylvania. Before the competition got underway I was interviewed by the most famous bowling writer in Australian history, Bob Cook of Pin Action Magazine. One of the questions that Bob asked me was how many 299’s I had to go with my eighteen 300’s? “None,” I replied.
As fate would have it, my first game out of the box was a 299! Although I never rolled another 300 game in sanctioned competition, I would go on to roll nine consecutive 299’s following the one in Australia. Years later Mr. Cook referred to me as the “ultimate streak player,” in a feature that he wrote about me in Pin Action.
After the 299 opener, I went on to roll a 1049 for the first four games, an all-time record in Australia at the time. It was all downhill from there, as I managed to make the cut but finished fifteenth in the final standings.
Mackie, seizing the opportunity to promote the Gold Angle Bowling Ball and Angle Winning Wear line of accessories, including bags, shoes and shirts that I wore during the competition, accomplished a marketing coup for the bowling products group in Australia with record sales in 1985.
Although I have seen Steve only once since his wedding to Dana in Albuquerque back in 1988, we have remained the best of friends. While Dana was touring the country in the 1990’s on the Professional Women’s Bowling Tour, I took time out from my duties at Sacramento-based American Recreation Centers to meet with Steve and Dana in nearby Yuba City, California.
I had all but retired from bowling by this time due to severe back problems, complicated by scoliosis and sciatica. As Steve, Dana and I reminisced in the parking lot following the event, Steve asked if I would like him to say a prayer about my back. It was an eventful moment in my life because the pain in my back and left leg were gone the next day!
My back has bothered me a couple of times since that eventful meeting, but whenever it does I think back to that moment in the parking lot at Nu Generation Lanes in Yuba City, and the promise that whenever two or more of us are gathered together, there’s someone else there that’s going to help us… along the way!