World’s first 300 game bowled by a Hamiltonian


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The ball used by Frank Young, in Hamilton, to bowl the world’s first perfect game. (Photo: Jim Margueratt)

Over 60 years ago, the late Bill Bailey discover that the first 300 game in the world was bowled by Frank Young in Hamilton on February 1, 1881, a fact confirmed by the United States Bowling Congress. The first 300 in the United States was by George Wadleight in Jersey City N.J., on Jan. 8, 1890, almost nine years after Young’s ace.

Exactly where in Hamilton Young achieved the honour remains unknown, although two places in operation then were at Dundurn Castle, and the Ocean House on the Beach Strip which was opened from 1875 to 1895 and is the most likely location.

After Young’s perfect game, alleys were also located in the Brant Hotel (1900-17) and Royal Hamilton Yacht Club (1891-1915). There are incomplete records of alleys in downtown Hamilton locations as early as the 1840’s. For many years the bowling ball that Young used was in the procession of Bob Turner of Toronto, who recently passed away.

It is now prominently displayed in the USBC Hall of Fame at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nevada. For a ball over 130 years old, it is in remarkably good condition. The plaque beside the ball reads: ”In 1881, Frank Young bowled his first 300 in Hamilton Ontario Canada, with this ball, which is also the oldest known lignum vitae (a dense hard wood) tenpin ball”. The first part about “his first 300” will be changed to “the first 300 in the world” shortly, according to the Hall of Fame. The ball has two finger holes and is a light brown colour.

Hamilton was also in the news on the same day as Young’s 300. On that date, the first public telephone was installed in Lancefield’s stationary store. There were no coin slots and you paid the storekeeper for your call. Because telephone service was still in its infancy, there were not too many people to call about the 300. Today, of course, we would use a cell phone and send a text message.

Professional tenpin bowling history was made in Reno when the recent U.S. Women’s Open was held outside under the famed Reno Arch. After the top 100 women averaged over 200 in qualifying indoors at the National Bowling Stadium, the five finalists had to overcome dust, the setting sun, and wind gusting between 18 to 24 mph. The dust on the lanes drastically affected the scoring as there were only three doubles achieved during the eight games. Top seated Kelly Kulick said it was like “bowling in the desert”.

In the first match, Stefanie Nation upset Lynda Barnes, 166-158. Then, Nation lost to Shannon O’Keefe, 182-165. In the semi-final match, O’Keefe was defeated by Missy Parkin, 150-148. For the $40,000 first place prize, Kulick rolled past Parkin, 170-160 and let out a scream as she clinched her third U.S. Women’s Open title. After many high scores indoors during qualifying, including a 300, 299 and 298, the top five women bowlers in the world, averaged only 162 outdoors. With a $1-million prize offered for a 300 game in the final match, it was obvious after the first game that a 300 was a very long shot.

Conditions were better during the Senior U.S. Women’s Open, held indoors, as Robin Romeo defeated Lucy Sandelin 225-188. During the annual Bowl Expo in Reno, the Bowling Writers Association of America and World Bowling Writers voted to merge under a still to be determined new name. The keynote address was given by Captain Mark Kelly, famed astronaut and Commander of the Space Shuttle Endeavour’s final mission, and husband of former Congresswomen Gabrielle Gifford who was shot in Arizona early in 2011. He mentioned how Gifford, despite physical limitations, went bowling recently and rolled a 39 over five frames beating U.S. President Barack Obama’s 37 over seven frames.

Back in Hamilton, John Conti reports these five-pin finals from Sherwood’s Wednesday Night Mixed. The top team members were Kassie Blesses, Brian Nicholson and Francois and Martin Talbot. Superior averages were Mitch Davies, 264, and Marc Goulet, 259.

The best triples were Norton Sims, 989, and Brian Sillett, 974, while super singles were Eric Ridgeway, 417, and Dave Bentley, 395. In a future column there will be a list of known 450 perfect games.

TENPIN TRIVIA

Having the most sanctioned 300 games in the U.S. is Jim Hosier with 133 while Parker Bohn has the most 300s on the PBA Tour at 88. In Hamilton, Art Oliver Jr. is high at 15. The oldest record in Hamilton is Troy Demers 1,090 (289, 299,234, 268) set on Feb.26, 1995.

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