by Randy Ooney
My Nickel’s Worth by Randy Ooney
If you’re throwing the dice at a crap table in Nevada, and the six and five show up together on the come out roll, that’s a good thing. I’ve always considered eleven a lucky number, especially since, in the history of bowling, I have never left the 11 pin. (Although I’ve left the one and the ten a few times, but usually also with the two pin, which makes the total thirteen, which we all know is unlucky.)
I really didn’t care much about the Ravens or the Patriots, so I tuned in to ESPN coverage of the Pepsi Red White and Blue tournament in Wichita. I’ve been a follower of Walter Ray Williams Jr since his pre beard days in the 1980’s. I guess I always liked him because he’s shown the world he can throw strikes without tossing the ball out 15 boards and hook back 20 in the last ten feet. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s something I could never do. But this past Sunday, Walter had his hands full with a 42 year old player making the TV finals for the first time. Wayne Garber, a typical journeyman player, matched up with Walter in the semi-finals, and after a 237 tie, went on to defeat him in the sudden victory roll off. Normally this upset wouldn’t be newsworthy, but Garber’s history is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. A few years ago, while competing in a US Open in Reno, Wayne fell in his hotel, carrying luggage, and ruptured the kneecap ligaments of both knees. It took months of four separate surgeries and rehab just to be able to walk again, let alone bowl. Then to add insult to injury, he encountered a back problem that required additional surgery.
Occasionally during open bowling, I will spot a 3 or 4 year old kid run the length of the approach with about 10 to 15 steps before using both hands to let the 6 pound day glow orange ball fly toward the pins. The only scratch bowler I know that takes the long walk to the foul line is Gary Ring, who manages to get there in 7 or 8 steps. But Wayne Garber is the first pro I’ve seen to break double figures - Eleven total steps on every shot. The first six resemble Al Jefferson in the paint, trying to find his way to the hoop around three defenders. Wayne must have learned playing “Captain May I” as a kid. Wayne, take six baby steps. “Captain may I?” “Yes you may.” Then there’s a few more longer steps leading to the grand finale giant step with no slide at the foul line while he unleashes a powerful shot that never missed the pocket in two games.
On this day, Wayne had to settle for second place because Mike Scroggins carried a little better in the title match. It’s probably just as well. If he would have won, there would be 20 people in my leagues trying the 11 step approach. But it would be good for the pro shops. You’ll wear out a pair of bowling shoes twice as fast.