|| I think that in order to give
this story as much credibility as possible, I am going to have to
brag a little. I have been involved in doing the lanes with the
PBA for over 800 tournaments, which included the National Tour,
the Senior Tour and all seven Regions of the Regional Program. I
am the only person who has done lanes for every bowler that is in
the PBA Hall of Fame. In other words, I have seen them all. And,
perhaps, I am really the only person who knows exactly what they
bowled "on", as far as lane conditions go.
My personal All-Time Top-10, includes; Dick 'Water Walker' Ritger.
You talk about TALENT. Dick was unbelievable. He was a world-class
bowler, a world class guy, and later became a world-class coach.
Without question he was one of the coolest, smartest, shot-makers
in the history of our great sport. He could bowl on anything.
I have literally hundreds of stories of some of the tremendous feats
that were performed by the greatest bowlers in the world; those
that are in the PBA Hall of Fame.
This particular story took place in the early 70's. We (the Tour)
were at Cranston Bowl in Cranston, Rhode Island. The weather was
absolutely miserable as it had been snowing for about a week before
we got there. It was 10-degrees outside when I got off the plane.
Not only that, but my job as laneman was going to be a lot tougher
this week because we knew in advance that the place was in bad condition
because they hadn't resurfaced in a couple of years and all of the
league bowlers had been complaining. Not only that, it was an old,
drafty two-sided house and each side played drastically different
from each other - as well as each pair playing differently from
each other. I knew that I was going to hear about that.
After the first day of qualifying, Ritger was in the lead, which
wasn't unusual for this 20-time champion (at the time). Almost every
bowler was upset with the lanes and I had to hear about it.
That night at 2:00am I went in to do the lanes and it was now 19-below
zero. There was so much snow in the motel parking lot, that and
I couldn't find my car and had to walk about a mile to get to the
bowl. About 15-minutes after getting there, part of the roof on
the high-side (the real tough side) caved-in from the weight of
the snow. It was a disaster. The janitor called the head mechanic
who in turn called the Manager. He called everybody he knew to get
in there to help clean up the mess. I called Harry Golden (the Tournament
Director) to let him know what had happened. I cleaned and oiled
the low-side then went over to take a look at what was going on
over on the disaster side. There were about 20 people cleaning the
water, snow, ceiling tiles and other debris off of the lanes and
approaches. You could see the sky through the hole in the ceiling.
I remember thinking: "I'm sure that the guys will blame me for this,
There were buckets on the lanes that were still catching water from
the drippy roof. It was now 6:00am and the Pro's were scheduled
to bowl at 9:00am. At that point I thought that there was no way.
I started cleaning and oiling the part of that side that wasn't
under water. When I got to the part of the house that had caved
in, a "Miracle" happened. It had stopped raining and the dripping
over the lanes had stopped. I cleaned and oiled the rest of the
lanes. There were still some drips coming down over the lanes, but
"Miracle number 2" was that the drips were only over the gutter
gaps and the buckets that were placed there were catching all of
the drops. It was about 8:45am now, and I took the lane machine
to the back. The mechanic and all his helpers were back there huddled
next to a little heater he had, and they were all trying to dry
When I came out of the backend, I saw about 20-bowlers standing
in the settee on 31 and 32. I went over there to see what was going
on. The only drips that were still coming down were over the approach
on that pair and because of the full field, they had to use that
pair in the tournament. Harry made the decision to leave the three
buckets where they were on the approach. It was either that, or
put 5 on a pair, and none of the bowlers wanted that. The buckets
were to stay in place for BOTH squads.
I stayed around to watch the 1st squad bowl. After they bowled their
6-games that morning, the high game on the pair was 149. It was
impossible for the players to walk around the buckets that were
there to execute any type of normal shot.
Now the next squad came in to bowl. Ritger was scheduled to bowl
his 2nd game on 31 and 32. It would be interesting to see what he
could do there and not lose too much of the lead that he had enjoyed.
When he got there for game 2 of this second day, there was a huge
crowd in the bleachers, and standing behind the bleachers, as well.
I watched him (with no practice balls) alter his approach by snaking
his footwork around the three buckets in a serpentine manner. I
couldn't believe my eyes. He shot 279 like it was nothing. It was
ridiculous. From then on, every time I saw him, I called him: "Water
I had just seen "Miracle number 3".
(Editor's note: This story above is one of the stories that you
will find in my published book, "The Tour Would Be Great "IF" You
Didn't Have To Bowl". That 'book' is now in CD form and is "On-Sale"
here on the Bowlers Paradise web site. This popular (3), CD set
contains over 40-stories about the Pro-Bowlers Tour and many of
its Stars. Get
your copy today and enjoy.)