Memorable Matches: Chris Barnes wins his first title

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

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Memorable Matches: Duke vs. Hoskins

The championship match of the 1998 Greater Rochester Open came down to Norm Duke, the top seed, and Steve Hoskins, the #2 seed. Hoskins, a powerful cranker, had thrown a lot of strikes in the semi-final match against Tim Criss, shooting 224, and appeared to be locked-in. Hoskins was the defending champion of the event, and he actually bowled a 300 in the same bowling alley on the TV finals of another bowling event that year. So, during the 1998 Greater Rochester Open, whenever Hoskins started a game with a strike, there was electricity in the air with the possibility Hoskins would attain perfection in consecutive years. The crowd was going nuts whenever Hoskins threw the ball, especially so if he struck.

Dressed all in black, Hoskins started the final match with the first 3 strikes in a row and it seemed as though it was going to be his day, Continue reading

Jason Belmonte repeats as Masters champion!

Jason Belmonte became the first player to come from the #5 seed to win the Masters tournament, and is only the third bowler to win back-to-back Masters titles, along with Dick Hoover (1956-57) and Billy Welu (1964-65). Belmonte defeated EJ Tackett 221-177 to defend his Masters title on Sunday. Nearly all of the matches came down to the wire for Belmonte, but the ball was always in his hands.

In the first match, Belmonte got off to a red-hot start against #4 seed Ryan Ciminelli, throwing a swisher 7-pin in the first frame followed by six consecutive strikes. It looked like Ciminelli was done for Continue reading

Spare thoughts: The greatest telecast

Pete Weber, with the “Frantic” in hand, stepped onto the approach and took a deep breath. The 69th U.S. Open title was on the line, but for Weber, a strike would also mean his ninth major title and a record fifth Open title. Weber threw a great shot the frame before, and if the 10-pin had fallen, the title would already have been his. Instead, he picked up the spare (a spare he had missed earlier that day) and was now tasked with needing a strike on this shot to win by one pin. It had been a grueling three games up to this point, and this was it. Weber threw the ball. It looked exactly like the previous shot. Would the 10-pin fall? Yes, it did, and Weber was ecstatic.

There have been many great moments and tournaments in PBA history. Continue reading

Opinion: Bowling needs to be more serious

I was watching the PBA World Series of Bowling: Chameleon Championship this afternoon, and I said to my dad, “You know, I don’t know exactly why, but watching the pro bowling telecasts isn’t exciting to me anymore.”

We talked about why this was the case over dinner, and there were two main issues we came up with. The first one I brought up, and that was the commentating needs to be more informative. For example, a graphic always comes up listing the three bowling balls players brought with them (although I seriously doubt that’s all they have), and next to the ball names is a number, representing the ball’s hook rating. The problem is we don’t know what the difference between a 9.0, a 9.5, and a 10.0 hook rating is. Each one of the bowlers has different bowling balls they are using, yet they all have the same hook ratings, between a 7.5 and a 10. That’s confusing. If I were a person not familiar with the bowling world, I would be wondering Continue reading