The two bowling blockbuster series were rolled about 100 miles apart but were strikingly similar.
Scott Hatmaker of Winchester, Calif., crushed an 846 during league play on Dec. 4 at Brunswick Cal Oaks Bowl in the Riverside County city of Murrieta.
More than a year earlier, Charles Mandel of Woodland Hills blistered an 845 during league play on July 23, 2013, at AMF Woodlake Lanes in the Los Angeles County community of Woodland Hills.
Hatmaker put up scores of 278, 279 and 289. Mandel fashioned nearly identical scores of 277, 278 and 290. For series so high, it was extremely rare that both right-handed bowlers did not roll a perfect game.
Hatmaker nailed 30 strikes in 34 tries; Mandel struck 32 times in 36 tries. Hatmaker hit the pocket on all 34 of his strike attempts. Mandel missed just once – in the third frame of his first game.
With better luck, it’s not inconceivable that each bowler could have flirted with an unimaginable 900 series (300-300-300).
Both bowlers acknowledged that they were “in a zone” on their memorable nights and were carrying just about everything.
One more commonality: Both players said their mid-840 series represented the highlight of their bowling careers.
But here’s where the similarities end. The 52-year-old Hatmaker had already crushed two previous certified 800 series and his latest 800-plus series was 24 pins higher than his previous best. Mandel’s 845 represented his first certified 800 series and totaled a staggering 82 pins higher than his previous-best series.
Further, Mandel had not bowled an honors score (300 game or 800 series) before his breakout night, while Hatmaker also had eight sanctioned perfect games.
Still, both bowlers’ strike percentage was nearly identical, with Mandel getting the edge: .889 to .882.
Mandel, now 63, said he was aware of Hatmaker’s powerful series and the similarity with his own. He still looks back at his 845 from time to time with considerable satisfaction.
“The 800 was a dream,” Mandel said, “and to obliterate [the 800 barrier], that’s uncanny.
“All that time to be consistent [through three games] with every shot and be in a groove is ‘wow.’ ”
Bowling an 800 series is generally accepted in bowling circles as being more difficult than a perfect game.
“I always wish everyone the best. I’m still very proud of what I achieved. I can take it to the grave – hopefully not too soon,” said Mandel with a laugh.