I’m a little bit late to the party here, as the season is now well under way but there has certainly been a lot of discussion about the game, whether it’s been about membership, tournaments, or the East-West challenge on CBC. There has also been much discussion focused on scoring conditions.
Scoring, and what can been done to improve or maximize it, is a topic all on it’s own and will be an ongoing and in-depth debate, as we want to see conditions fair and rewarding to the competitive players, but also want to ensure the game remains fun for kids, older players and the public bowlers. Remember, the more business proprietors can get from parties and public bowling, the more they should be able to invest back into the centre in terms of maintaining the lanes and equipment.
All of this being said, let’s focus on something positive. I believe that 5-Pin has the “perfect” number of perfect games.
Our game is constantly compared to the other bowling games out there, but in Duckpin perfect games are impossible. In 10-Pin, PBA pros have each thrown dozens of 300 games. In 5-Pin, 450 games are rare enough that a good portion of us are still looking for our first.
According to the C5 website, there have been 134 reported/sanctioned 450 games in the last ten years. The most in any recent season was 20 perfect games in 2006-07. The most recorded in any year was 29 in 1986-87. Again, these only included 450’s thrown in sanctioned league and tournament play. Keeping this in mind, many events do not apply for sanctioning and with provincial memberships on the decline, some leagues are opting out of affiliation. My personal rule-of-thumb as far as whether individuals should count their 450’s, is as long as it is played in a certified centre under normal league or tournament conditions using traditional scoring, you may count it. Witnesses, of course, sure help!
I wanted to see approximately what percentage of players out there has thrown a 450, so I checked our O5 Coaches Manual (still online at o5pba.ca) from last year. Even though some players enter false stats (don’t get me started on THAT), I assumed that the high games would be accurate, or at least people who had perfect games would enter them. I discovered that, of the 126 men on the Mens or Mixed teams, 23 of them had thrown a perfect game. Of the 126 women competing in the Ladies or Mixed divisions, 5 had thrown 450’s. In the Seniors division, 7 of the 65 competitors had listed a perfect game to their credit. Based on this sample, my “guesstimate” would have been pretty close, with 20-25% of tournament players (245 average and up) having thrown a perfect game.
So, for those who have thrown a 450, the challenge is still there to get another one. And for those of us who haven’t, the allure of achieving the 12th strike keeps us coming back.
So far this season I have heard about five 450 games, two of which came from the same tournament.
For Oshawa’s Christina Herbert, some of us were surprised to hear that she was even playing in the Pla-Mor Open on August 13th in Port Dalhousie, as she’d just given birth to her (and bowling husband Mike’s) second son Dylan a month earlier. Christina hadn’t played a tournament since May, and had only thrown a few balls earlier that week to try to adjust to “not having the beach ball belly” that she’d carried around for many months previously. With her previous high of 425 (10 in-a-row, chop-off), the thought of a 450 didn’t enter her mind until the 10th strike. This time, she didn’t stop at 10 and went on to join the elusive 450 club!
Not too long after Christina’s perfect game, and never the one to avoid the spotlight, Mitch Davies made it a double-header as he too threw a 450. A star in YBC, Mitch burst onto the adult scene and quickly made a name for himself with an incredible debut in the Masters and in the Open where he averaged over 290 to win Rookie of the Year and help lead (along with Jeff Young who averaged 304) the Hamilton men to a Provincial Championship. An extremely talented competitor, Mitch’s passion for the history, current state and future of the game cannot be questioned. As an example of his drive, when I asked where his 450 ranked personally, Mitch stated “I don’t rank this particularly high, as 450 is still one game. I’m definitely proud of it, but longevity and consistency is the key for this game and for my personal gratification”. Yeah, he might just throw another one sometime!
As one of the game’s young superstars, 18 year-old Jennifer Baker of Edmonton didn’t waste any time getting this season off to a great start by throwing a 450 in her first week of YBC. Prior to her perfect game, Jennifer already had an impressive resume in the sport with a previous high single of 420 and high triple of 964. Her highest ever league average is an impressive 259! Again, just 18, Jennifer has already won the Ladies City High Average twice. Her YBC career includes appearances at 6 Nationals, including a Bantam Girls Singles Silver and back-to-back National Singles titles in ’06 as a Junior and in ’07 as a first year Senior!! Jennifer has also competed in 3 Alberta Winter Games and has an incredible Youth Challenge record, qualifying 6 times for Provincials where she had tremendous team success as well as qualifying for 3 Youth Challenge Nationals. At the YC Nationals, Jennifer has twice won scholarships for making the All-Star Team. In fact, Jennifer has amassed a whopping $7500 through bowling to use toward her post secondary education! With great young stars such as Jennifer, the future of the sport is in good hands!
Just prior to forwarding this article to my boss two weeks ago, I heard of another 450 game. This one came from Barry Byrne from Dickson Bowl in Cambridge, Ontario. Incidentally, Barry threw the first 400 game of the season last year at Dickson. A relative newcomer to the Open qualifying experience, Barry just missed making it out of the powerhouse Tri-County zone at last year’s qualifying round. Certainly that experience, as well as confidence gained from his 450 will help propel Barry’s game to the next level.
And wouldn’t you know it, as I was about to post this once again, I heard through Fraser Hambly (who knows a bit about perfect games) that Andrew Speers had thrown 450 on Monday night at North Park Bowl in Toronto. I met Andrew several years ago when he was a student at our Bowling School and I was thrilled to hear the news, as he is a great young man with a tremendous attitude who works hard at his game and is always willing to learn!!
Once again, congratulations go out to the five newest members of the coveted 450 Club! The rest of us will keep trying.
*Just a note that we do have some other articles in the works including a look at the Bowling Schools around the country and some “23 Questions”. As always, we encourage feedback and ideas, as well as prospective “23 Questions” victims.
I can be reached here, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook or Twitter @23barker
Take care, and enjoy the game you love!