Legends: The Shot Heard Around the World

It was March 11, 2006, a Saturday morning, on lanes 31 and 32 at Sea Bowl in Pacifica, CA, and 10-year, 3-month, and 16-day-old Michael Tang showed up for his 10 o’clock league sporting an orange and black polo shirt, a color combination soon to become his signature.

“Leading up to that day of league, it was a pretty normal Saturday morning,” Tang said. “Saturdays were the only times I was actually excited to wake up that early because, like every aspiring child bowler, going to league and trying to put up your highest score is what you always looked for after a week of school.”

It was only Tang’s second time ever bowling at Sea Bowl, having just relocated from Serra Bowl because his mom, Tracie Tang, had just started a job as the special events director at Sea Bowl. When all was said and done on that day, Michael Tang had bowled a 656 series, his first 600 series, which is nothing to sneeze at, especially for a bowler averaging 167. But, that’s not what makes this day remarkable.

“During practice, I just stood where I normally stood for my shots, and I was just striking,” Tang said. “I guess I was just feeling it that day.”

A lot of times, when a bowler is throwing a lot of strikes in practice, as soon as play starts they all of a sudden can’t strike at all. That’s why there’s a joke or superstition among bowlers, when somebody is striking a lot in practice, someone will say to them “don’t use up all your strikes.” But on March 11, 2006, Michael Tang did not use up all his strikes during practice. Continue reading

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Legends: A Feverish Performance

“By all means, I was set up to fail that day,” Scott McMullin of Pacifica, CA said of a Sunday in January, 2009. “I didn’t get any sleep the previous night, I was hallucinating, my nose was running constantly, I was coughing up a storm, I had a 104.5 degree fever, I had no medication and I ate barely any breakfast.”

This is the ball Scott McMullin won the Yuba City tournament with. As you can see, the thumb hole is packed with tape.

This is the ball McMullin won the Yuba City tournament with. As you can see, the thumb hole is packed with tape. Photo courtesy of Scott McMullin.

On top of all that, McMullin was using a plastic spare ball for his strike shots, a ball that was designed to go straight and wasn’t even fitted to him. The ball was nearly a pound heavier than he was used to throwing, the thumb hole was filled all around with five pieces of tape, and his fingers slid into the finger holes halfway between the first and second knuckles. The story of this spare ball goes back to the summer of 2008, when McMullin was competing at the Junior Gold Championship tournament in Detroit, MI.

“I threw a Columbia White Dot at a 10 pin in Detroit,” McMullin said. “I picked it up clean, but then you could hear a really loud grinding sound coming from behind the pin deck. Continue reading