Sunday, July 27, 2014


On July 26, 2014, I was honored to be inducted into the Alabama USBC Hall of Fame.  I wish to the thank the AUSBC for selecting me and for the pageantry and locale of the awards celebration.  I've received many congratulatory well wishes.  Below, I have included the transcript from my acceptance speech.

Hall of Fame members who attended the 2014 awards banquet at Lake Guntersville State Park Lodge. How many can you recognize?

In bowling, work, sports or activities, the real honor is being recognized by your peers and competitors for your superior achievements.  When my friends and I discuss what constitutes hall of fame qualifications, I always thought that, whatever those may be, I fell short.  I did not warrant consideration to be included in the group with Jimmy Certain, Nicky McLantoc, and Tony Churchey.  So, I humbly thank the Alabama USBC for my induction into the state bowling hall of fame.  Bowling has been a large part of my life for the past 40 years.  My grandfather and father were both champion bowlers in the Memphis area.  I’m proud that I could carry on that tradition.  My first perfect game was bowled in 1986 in the Memphis Italian Sportsmen League, one of the oldest leagues in Memphis.  I was privileged to have my dad, my brother, and my uncle on that team to witness the first perfect game in the history of that league.  Those were the golden times of league bowling.  I welcome my family here, and thank them for all the support over the years, which included dropping me off at the bowling center, driving me to youth tournaments, listening to me brag and complain when I couldn’t in front of anyone else.  You provided me advice and coaching.  And thank you for that one tournament in Memphis just a few years ago, where you were the only ones cheering for me while the whole house was rooting for my opponent in the stepladder finals.  I just needed some entrance music so I could complete the picture of being the WWE villain. 

I would also like to thank Jeff McCorvey for your friendship, expertise, coaching, and the knowledge of the game that you imparted.  As a pro shop owner, your wisdom to know that I cannot just buy a game was refreshing.  It still comes down to me.  Introducing me to the area’s top bowlers, tougher tournaments, including the ABC/USBC national tournament and allowing me to earn my spot on some of your top teams has led me to this moment tonight.  If I had not walked into your only pro shop in 1986, I would have only been a two-time a week league bowler, who occasionally bowled a city or state tournament.  Some of my best tournament experiences have been the successes and near-successes at the ABC and USBC Open tournaments.  I have been honored to have worn a McCorvey’s Pro Shop shirt during every competitive game I have bowled for the past 28 years.

It is painfully obvious that bowling has changed over the years.   The number of participants has dramatically decreased while the number of honor scores has dramatically increased.  I have tried to adapt to these changing times.  While I have not bowled anywhere near 30 perfect games in a 3 year period, my successes have spanned decades.  I have bowled perfect games in the past 4 decades, and I look forward to trying to increase that number.  Of the perfect games I have bowled, only three have much meaning to me.  I have already mentioned the first.  The second one occurred a month later where I bowled the first ever perfect game in Memphis State history at my last collegiate tournament.  The rarity of that experience was that I was awarded for an AJBC perfect game after I was awarded for an ABC perfect game.  The third one occurred during the 2006 USBC Open in Corpus Christi, TX.  In this day and age, where perfect scores are rarely announced, nor even congratulated, the USBC Open tournament still recognizes that a perfect game at their event is a significant accomplishment.  That perfect game will cost me dearly, as I will now travel to all future tournaments to hear my name announced before my team event, no matter my age or ability.  Some people bowl for money, I bowl for the sense of accomplishment and achievement.  It is a wonderful memory of having PBA and USBC Open champions, Marc McDowell, Mike Shady, and Jeff Richgels shake my hand and congratulate me after the completion of the squad.

Honor scores should not be the only way to get into the Hall of Fame.  Tournament victories should be the major component.  In bowling, par is no longer 200.  In 2014, it is 230.  Now compare the all-stars of today with the all-stars of the 1980’s and 1990’s.  In a tournament, it doesn’t matter if you averaged 200 or 230, as long as it is more than the field, or more than your opponent in the championship match.  A few years ago, I was disheartened about the sport of bowling.  League bowling was shrinking.  It was no longer enjoyable, as friends were quitting the game, and complaints of ‘inconsistent’ lane conditions increased.   There was a loss of camaraderie in the spirit of true sportsmanship.  Play the same golf course in February, May, July, and October and tell me if the conditions were consistent.  I was getting older, not yet a senior player, but it was getting difficult to compete with younger high speed, high revolution players in leagues and local tournaments.  Just this past year, I decided not to worry about it.  Time waits for no man, and tournament bowling was still an outlet that I enjoyed.  Putting no pressure on myself, I finished third in season points in an overall scratch tournament series that bowls on challenging lane conditions in the greater Nashville and Huntsville areas.  I was much older than the many of the bowlers in the top 10.  It was a great feeling knowing that, maybe, I did learn something over the years that still apply; consistency, accuracy, physical game adjustments, and experience.  Sometimes this trumps the young guy trying to overpower the pins.  Just recently, a fellow bowler came to me, and congratulated me on last season’s success.  “It was great to see one of us old guys up there,” he said.  I said thanks and then hesitated.  “That was a compliment, right?”

I am probably the last of my kind to be inducted into this hall; the more classic style with less speed and stroker delivery. I’m sure the ones that follow me will throw the ball harder, impart many revolutions on the ball, and possibly even use two hands to make a delivery.  However, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Success is also measured over time, and I look forward to more personal triumphs as I start my 5th decade of bowling competition.  Thank you once again for this great honor.  I will strive to represent myself worthy of hall of fame membership.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Picking Lillies

Bowling as a participation and spectator sport has changed greatly over the decades.  In your league,  does anyone stop and watch a bowler throw the final three shots for a perfect game?  Does any one clap when it occurs?  Is it even announced over the loudspeaker anymore?

Compare that event to another bowling situation.  An unlucky bowler is embarrassed as he has left the 5-7-10 split, otherwise known as 'the lilly.'  Now, how much noise is generated?  How many people now gawk?

On January 30, 2014, during the Monday Night Men's league at Madison Bowling Center, Kevin Ralston left the 5-7-10.  Hey, there is no crying in bowling!  He approached his second shot and converted the spare!!  This has to be one of the rarer feats in bowling.  There was no 6 pound ball involved or deliveries approaching 30 mph speeds.  While this is not Kevin's second shot, see if you can guess the weight of this bowling ball in how the lilly is typically converted, if at all:

Now, can we see how it is converted by real men with real bowling balls? There happens to be a video of Kevin's spare conversion, well, sort of.  While no one had their phone out thinking they would record a 5-7-10 spare conversion, the automatic scorer camera system can do a replay.
Now, a camera phone can record the replay.  Here is how it is done.

Congratulations Kevin.  You have probably set a record or accomplished something very few people have ever done in actual competition.  However, is it something you feel comfortable bragging about?