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Though Diminished, 300 Game Remains a Goal for Local Bowlers
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2022-07-27

            Rolling a 300 game remains a challenge, but it's not considered as much of an accomplishment as it used to be. Equipment upgrades have played a significant role in the devaluing of the perfect game, according to several bowlers who compete at the East Greenville Fire Company.

            Every year, the quality of the balls being produced improves, according to Eric Schantz, a

Palm resident and a veteran of leagues at the company, located at 401 Washington

St. He says that no matter what brand you roll, your scores are likely to increase.

            Improved lane maintenance has led to more repeatable shots, according to Ken Pugh, a Quakertown resident. He said bowlers are more likely to adjust to oil discrepancies on lanes by changing balls than altering their approach.

            Still, rolling 12 consecutive strikes requires significant skill, according to Dave Pellegrino.  He says some novice bowlers he tutors find the sport difficult.  "It's just like anything else," Pellegrino said. "You have to practice."

            In late August, the company's nine leagues – for men, women, couples and children – will resume. Approximately 230 bowlers are expected to participate.

During the 2021-22 winter season, members collected 31 perfect games and eleven 800

series. Joe Adam, Sr., secretary of the Wednesday Night Men's League, described both those totals as the highest yearly figures by a wide margin.

 

Andy Hawkins

            Hawkins says he surprised himself when he rolled his first 300 game. Once he figured it out, the Upper Perkiomen High School graduate added 15 more.  "I never thought I would actually do that," he said.

            When Hawkins started bowling, he says he never expected to accomplish the feat. The odds seemed long to him.  "It's not very often that you can roll 12 consecutive strikes," he said. "But once you get the first one, you know in your mind what it takes to do it again."

            Hawkins, a plant controller for a specialty chemical company in Ambler, posted three

perfect games last season during the 2021-22 winter league at the fire company. This season

will mark his 25th season bowling at the facility.

            The Red Hill resident, who formerly played baseball for the Indians and Perkiomen's

American Legion baseball team, utilizes the sport as a method to fulfill a desire to compete.

Hawkins says he no longer gets upset about losing a perfect game in the later frames.

            "When I was younger, and that would happen, I would think about it for a day," he said. "Now I don't dwell on it. Bowling is about having fun and enjoying your teammates."

 

Ken Pugh

Pugh described the memories of his first 300 games, in 1985, as surreal. Serving in the

U.S. Marine Corps in Okinawa, he was mobbed at a U.S. Air Force alley after completing the feat.  "Everyone was very exuberant," said Pugh, an electrical engineer who used to live in Pennsburg. "In those days, it was not that common."

            By the seventh or eighth frame, people in the alley began to notice the streak of consecutive strikes, according to Pugh. He said by the 10th frame, everyone – including his commanding officer – was watching intently.  "I could feel the anxiety," said Pugh, who had to wait until the following day to call his mom, who taught him the game.

            Since then, he has collected 147 career perfect games. Pugh said he received several commemorative rings from the United States Bowling Congress.

            The Blandon resident captured two 300 games during the 2021-22 winter season at the fire company. This fall, Pugh will begin his seventh season in the league.

            According to Pugh, perfect games during league play carry less significance than they used to. He said keeping track of them is difficult due to its manual scoring.  "We normally don't find out if someone has one until they are in the ninth or 10th frames,"  Pugh said. "You begin to hear the whispers. Not everyone stops to watch."

 

Dave Pellegrino

            Pellegrino waited 30 minutes to complete his first 300 game. In 1995, after throwing nine

strikes at a Delaware County bowling alley, mechanical issues closed his lane.

            During the delay, Pellegrino said his friends did a good job keeping him calm and relaxed.

            After the repairs were made, he struck out in the 10th inning to complete the perfect game.  Pellegrino felt a combination of relief and satisfaction. He said a coach in his youth told him he didn't have the proper mindset to roll a 300.

            "Once you get the first one, your confidence level jumps exponentially," Pellegrino said. "I now believe I can accomplish almost anything."

            The Quakertown resident entered the upcoming season with 16 perfect games. Four came during the 2021-22 winter season. According to Pellegrino, his mindset is to approach

every frame like it's the first one. "The key is becoming consistent with your shot," said Pellegrino, a self-employed mortgage and insurance broker. "They should all be the same."

            A 12-year league member, Pellegrino has learned to focus on the entire three-game series rather than one at a time. He has rolled ten 800 series, including an 855 on Feb. 8.  "Posting an 800 series is tougher than getting a perfect game," Pellegrino said.

 

Eric Schantz

            After earning 11 of them, Schantz says 300 games are not expected. However, the Palm resident described them as a pleasant surprise.  "They are nice when they happen," said Schantz, who works at the Upper Hanover Municipal Authority.

            More often than not, the left-hander is forced to settle for a less than a perfect game. Schantz says a stray No. 7 pin has prevented him from celebrating.  "That's my nemesis," he said. "Make your spare and move on."

            According to Schantz, his first 300 game in 2005 created significant anxiety. He said the last one – completed March 22, six days after his 10th perfect game – felt routine.  "I knew what to expect," said Schantz, who will be competing in a league at the fire company for the 16th consecutive season. "I knew what had to be done."

            The key to success during a 300 game is maintaining the proper back swing and a consistent approach, along with hitting the same mark on the lane, according to Schantz. He said overthinking is not conducive to success.

            "If you're bowling well, you've got the ability to help your team, even if you don't roll a perfect game," Schantz said.

 

Renee Talkington

            Consistency is more important than utilizing ideal form in the quest to roll a perfect game, according to Talkington. Last fall, the Douglass Township resident earned her fifth 300 game.

            During the same season, she came one strike short of her sixth perfect game. Talkington said he went home feeling a little disappointed and a little upset that she was unable to execute the final shot.  "I've had quite a few games where I rolled 11 consecutive strikes," said Talkington, who claims not to practice any bowling-related superstitions. "I always get a little nervous. I feel like I need to kick myself in the butt."

            Despite owning a bowling alley in Berks County, Talkington will be competing in the East Greenville Women's League for the ninth season. She called it an opportunity to have fun.  "I just love to bowl," said Talkington, who has owned and operated Jay Lanes, located at 1428 Benjamin Franklin Hwy, in Douglass (Berks) Township, with her husband Chuck since 2012.  "When you own a business, you have to be worried about equipment breaking down or customer complaints."

 

Jeff Wied

            Wied considers each of his eight career 300 games a significant achievement. He became emotional discussing the first one, completed on a Thursday night in 2004 in Quakertown.  "I have bowled since I was a kid, and I didn't think it was possible," Wied said.

            The Green Lane resident credited a former teammate for trying to keep him relaxed.  According to Wied, the teammate's words kept him from getting too worked up. He compared it to a pitcher trying to throw a no-hitter.  "You don't want to think about it too much," said Wied, an 18-year veteran of the fire company leagues.

            Wied, who rolled perfect games last season on Oct. 5 and Dec. 2, chooses not to diminish the achievement. He describes each 300 game as a magical experience. "A perfect game is never easy," said Wied, who works as a mechanic in Hatfield Township. "Everyone is an achievement. Everyone is absolutely special."


 

 

 

 

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