A little of this, a little of that, a lot of pizza

Jack Hammill - Guest Columnist

I teased the Shaquille O’Neal commercial a few weeks ago!. I trust some of you have seen it. Shaq, the mighty purveyor of pizza had secured a bevy of pizzas for those who were craving the favorite ‘snack’ or even dinner of bowlers everywhere.

Please be aware that I am a fan of the big man, a much bigger fan than many professional athletes, but I must not digress. Shaq, as you recall in one of the commercials, actually delivered those pizzas to a bowling facility. I thought of the mighty Shaq again this past week when the topic of great bowling alley food came up in a conversation at Bluffton Family Recreation.

As I picked up my Tivity Health card we discussed the great food at Southgate Lanes. I mean for the second time the bowling cuisine had caught raves by those concerned about our overall health. Interestingly enough Southgate is one of the few bowling establishments where pizza is not on the menu.

Hence my challenges: first somewhat playfully to my buddies Derek and the Bean and get at least a small pizza oven. I can only imagine how great it would be coming from that mighty kitchen.

The second part of the challenge goes out to my local readers. If you are an individual that dines at our locally owned pizza emporiums feel free to stay the course or at least give bowling alley pizza a one time chance.

For those of you that are convinced that the franchise pizzas are indeed the best in the area – take a reality check and sometime over the next two weeks make a phone call to a local bowling venue and try some legitimate pizza. Historically in these parts, Westgate has been what people come back to town to eat during the holidays. With that being said, they have nothing on the pizza from 20th Century, Astro Lanes in Wapak, Highland Lanes in Ottawa and Speedway Lanes in New Bremen. This is finally the year that I will attempt to eat the 27 car pile-up at the latter venue. I assure you that nobody will be disappointed if they give ‘the pie’ at those locations a try.

To quote Cav’s announcer Austin Carr you may just decide to “get that weak stuff out of here.”

Many of you who have read this page over the last 20 or so years are well aware that the mega scoring of bowlers has long been a point of frustration for me – clearly the concern exists that in different ways it is not beneficial to the game.

Recently the point hit home even harder – are you listening Brad Kelly and David Gremling – when a bowler whom I respect a great deal stated boldly to me that ‘Bowling was no longer a sport!’ I may be paraphrasing this individual but it was clearly the centralizing theme of the statement.

One of the measuring sticks that was used in the conversation was that we currently have so many bowlers throughout our area that have incredible averages in fact averages that can practically be considered stratospheric without any accusation of such a statement being considered hyperbole – yet when it is time for a good share of those bowlers to roll in competitive events they balk at entering or if they do bowl there true averages are revealed.

Nationally it has gotten so bad that the USBC and several leagues throughout the nation carry a league average and a sports shot average for different events. We will not go into the definition of sports shot today – only that many bowlers say they want to roll in such a league but few actually come to play.

Many are convinced that the issue stems from Jason Belmonte – they buy signature balls like the “Timeless” and suddenly they feel that they have to bowl like Belmo! Belmonte throws with two hands and suddenly individuals want to by-step the process that the true elite bowlers of our area have done to be what some what call fake great. Little is done to cultivate their craft – they search for ball revolutions– the more revs the better.

In reality this is just another era. The desire to copy the great bowlers has always been present. Dick Weber, Don Carter and Earl Anthony and the equipment that they used and that people had to have. For that matter let our good friend Ike Boyd tell you his story of the L-T 48 and a chance meeting that he had with bowling legend Johnny Petraglia.

The difference from this corner is that in those days the bowlers seemed to buy the equipment to get better. If they were averaging 180 and went to 190 over the course of a year or so there was happiness. In this era if the averages are not 215-220 something is wrong with the lanes or the equipment – the Moreo family, Dick, Bob and Earl specifically would always call operator error – such a stance would be unheard of these days.

So my friends Brad and David I am leaning your way – the game as we see it in most cases from Sunday throughout the week is indeed that a game. The good news is that the high school season practice has started and in two weeks matches begin. There the game we love is still a sport as they do bowl on challenging patterns and they realize averages may nosedive. They are ready for it! – Maybe there is hope yet for the future.

The Lima District 600 Club will be rolled at High Noon at Southgate Lanes in Bluffton. As always I urge you to get your reservations in quickly. The entry blank that I am looking at does say that they will take walk-ins. The best paths in for this event is to contact Susan Wilson, Cathy Bugner, Elaine McBeth or mail your entry to Susan at 2593 Susan Ann Drive in Elida, 45807. Chances are that street was named after Susan.


Jack Hammill

Guest Columnist

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