by Randy Ooney
My Nickel’s Worth by Randy Ooney
The Buds of Spring
I’ve never cared for the taste of beer, but I have respect for the Anhauser Busch brewers of Budweiser. They sponsor many sporting events on TV that I like to watch, but they are also known by some as the sponsors of five prestigious bowlers from St. Louis, Missouri. Fifty years ago, these keglers set a bowling record for the ages. I remember page one of the Minneapolis Tribune sports section touting the events of March 12, 1958. There were no Vikings or Twins. The Lakers had moved to Los Angeles, it was too early for Millers baseball, so the Ken Yackel hockey Millers, high school tournaments, and bowling consumed the local sports scene.
The Budweiser team of St. Louis shocked the bowling world by recording a five man team series of 3858. The series was shot at Floriss Lanes in St. Louis. Floriss was a typical bowling center of the times. The ground floor was a convenience grocery, then up one floor to lanes 9-16, up another flight of stairs to lanes 1-8. The big series was shot on lanes 7-8. Each player used one 16 pound black rubber ball. If you had to lug equipment up two flights of stairs, you might consider using one ball also.
The players and the scores:
Don Carter 266 - 253 - 235 754
Ray Bluth 267 - 267 - 300 834
Pat Patterson 246 - 222 - 268 736
Tom Hennessey 228 - 300 - 231 759
Dick Weber 258 - 258 - 259 775
There were four opens in the set. Bluth and Hennessey each missed a ten pin, Carter and Patterson each failed to convert a split. The record stood for over 36 years, but in my mind, it will stand forever. This record is on the same order as Babe Ruth hitting 714 home runs in an era when the next best was not even half of the total. When you consider the upper floor atmosphere, hard rubber equipment, maple hardwood lanes treated with linseed oil, and who knows what kind of pins, this was simply astounding. The playing styles of these teammates was also remarkable. Don Carter was earmarked as the most unorthodox player, but he was a leading scorer of his time, so maybe he was right and the rest were wrong! Don would shuffle up to the foul line with his right elbow almost 90 degrees and seem to push the ball out from his body at the pins. Ray Bluth would cradle his ball with both hands in a reverse yin yang position and peer out at his target down the lanes. Dick Weber would flare his right arm out to the right on nearly every shot, a habit he continued his entire bowling life. I’m not criticizing their styles. I have always a member of the WW club. Whatever Works for you.
They say records are made to be broken, and this one indeed has been eclipsed a handful of times, mostly in the 21st century, by various teams around the country But in view of the changes in bowling technology in this new era, this record stands as one of the seven wonders of bowling, and I don’t know the other six. What’s more, none of the league members blogged into their laptop, or a bowling forum and complained that the scores were getting too high.