Chris Barnes has had an incredible professional bowling career, amassing 18 titles (3 of which are majors), winning both PBA Rookie of the Year (1998) and Player of the Year (2007-2008) honors, bowling a 300 game on TV (Geico Shark Open 2013), and being a consistent title contender week-in and week-out for more than a decade. The 1999 Eerie Flagship Open was Barnes’ second career TV show, and it was a high-energy finals that culminated in what would turn out to be the first of many championships for Barnes. Let’s go back in time to that memorable day now!
The crowd at the Eerie Civic Center was electric before the first ball was even thrown. This could be because there had been high scores all week, with bowlers averaging in the 230s and some even in the 240s, and the tournaments held in this venue in previous years had also yielded high scores. It could also be due to the fact that a basketball game which was airing on the same TV station that day went into double overtime, so the start of the bowling was delayed by a significant length of time. The first match featured Parker Bohn III going up against Rick Steelsmith. Bohn III was making his third consecutive TV finals appearance (and would eventually end up winning Player of the Year honors that year) and Steelsmith had incredible bowling talent but did not have a more accomplished career due to a shoulder injury he suffered earlier in his career. Bohn III had a lot of momentum going into the match, but after the first few frames it was apparent his ball reaction was not good. Bohn III, who was playing up the gutter, would go light on one shot and high on the next. He wasn’t missing by much, but he did not have much room to miss if he was to get a strike. Bohn III left a split early, which resulted in an open frame, and fell behind by a large number of pins when Steelsmith began the game with 3 straight strikes. Even though Steelsmith cooled off in the middle portion of the game, leaving 3 single pin spares that resulted in spares, Bohn III could not string enough strikes together to climb back into the match, or even make it close. When Steelsmith, who was playing a slight swing around the second arrow, threw 3 more strikes in a row the match was his. He defeated Bohn III by a score of 235 – 197.
Steelsmith now faced Chris Barnes who was making just his second TV finals appearance. Continue reading