Anyone with even limited knowledge of bowling is aware that scoring levels have increased big-time over the years. But few likely realize the extent of the difference between modern-day scoring compared with that of yesteryear.
It’s almost beyond belief how scores have exploded over the years, and by examining scores from a half-century ago in 1965, a casual observer could logically conclude that it wasn’t even the same game back then. So just how low were those 1965 scoring levels? This column takes a look at how scores stacked up 50 years ago on the local, state and national scene.
Flashback to 1965: Sarasota-Manatee County Bowling Association
- Young lefthander Jerry Steere blasted an all-time association record 768 series on scores of 259, 232 and 277 at Rip Van Winkle Lanes — breaking Ed Miller’s previous mark of 744 — and at 201, he was the only area player to average 200 or better that season. Second-high average was Fred Simerly’s 198 at Myakka Lanes, and third was Harmon Brown’s 196 at Sarasota Lanes.
- In addition to Steere’s 768, the only other 700-plus series for the entire season were posted by Don Stephens (710) and Vic McClain (702), and the highest single-game scores shot by SMCBA bowlers were by John Spoloric (298), Bob Gallo (287), Ken Anderson (287) and Walt Brustlin (286).
- Steere’s 768 also enabled his Northside Bicycle team to shatter the association’s five-player series mark with 3,166. His teammates were Bob Wilson (637), Matt Erny (599), Dave Erny (581) and Herb Cooley (581). And the top all-time team game to that point was 1,144, shot by Pabst Blue Ribbon at Rip Van Winkle two seasons earlier.
- Only four perfect games had been rolled in the history of the SMCBA, by Ted Gallo (1959), Bob Kubes (1962), Paul Carson (1963) and Bill DuBois (1965), and there wouldn’t be another 300 game until Jerry Klawitter rolled one in 1973.
- Gallo and Andy Rapone had the only 299s in association history, both coming in 1958, and there wouldn’t be another 299 until Joe Schwartzkopf turned the trick in 1977. As for 800 series, the first one — by Al Cerully, an 823 — wouldn’t come until 1979.
- In the SMCBA championships, the winning scratch team score of 2,936 was the highest in tournament history, and Lee Frye’s 1,845 scratch all-events score was the highest in five years. And to that point, the SMCBA tourney single-game record was shared by Herb Cooley (1958) and Don Benson (1962) with scores of 279.
Flashback to 1965: Top Florida state and American Bowling Congress national averages
- The highest average in the entire state of Florida for the 1964-65 season was 214 by Glenn Pierce of Jacksonville, and only three other statewide bowlers managed to surpass 205: Acie Vickers of Jacksonville (211), Tony Macina of Miami (210) and Everett Mitchell of Jacksonville (208). And believe it or not, only 21 Florida bowlers managed to carry averages of 200 or better.
- Bobby Cooper of Dallas, Texas, carried the nation’s high average at 233, and only six other bowlers topped the 220-average mark: Tim Harahan of Los Angeles (228), Jim Hanke of Milwaukee, Wis. (225), Doug Peek of Everett, Wash. (223), Jake Charter of Newburgh, N.Y. (223), D.R. Vaughn of Los Angeles (221) and Jerry Ross of Everett, Wash. (221). And yes, that’s for the entire nation, and by the way, only 166 Americans averaged 210-plus.
- Allie Brandt’s 886 series in Lockport, N.Y., in 1939 continued its long run as highest-ever certified series, and no one had matched the half-dozen 800-plus sets rolled by Elvin Mesger of St. Louis. Jim Schroeder of Ottawa, Ohio, had the 1964-65 season’s high series of 837, and there was an all-time high of 54 800s rolled throughout the U.S. that season.
- The lifetime leader in number of perfect games was George Billick of Old Forge, Pa., with 17, while Al Faragalli of Wayne, N.J., Walter Ward of Cleveland and Dick Weber of St. Louis were next in line with 12 each.
Fast-forward to the present, where a modern-day junior bowler rolled three perfect 900 series — two of them USBC-certified — in a single league season, and Brandt’s 886 series, which was the all-time standard for nearly five decades, has been repeatedly obliterated.
And when you consider a top statewide (Florida) average of 214 and only 21 averages of 200 or better in the entire state, is there any doubt that many modern-day league rosters contain more “high rollers”?
Is it just a matter of time until all members of a five-player team rolls 900 series for an impossible-to-surpass 4,500 series?
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