By Dennis Clark
TERRE HAUTE — A lot of parallels were evident after Walter Ray Williams “finally” equaled the late legendary Hall of Fame bowler Earl Anthony — on his seventh attempt — with 41 Professional Bowlers Association Tour victories with his win at the PBA World Championship in Indianapolis last Sunday.
To be exact, one year, four months and 19 days. But who’s counting?
He will not break the record today, with Chris Barnes eliminating Williams Jr. 4-games-to-3 in the round of eight-match play late Friday night.
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A brief history lesson:
Anthony was often compared to pro golf’s Jack Nicklaus, as they both became icons in their sports after following in the footsteps of more-charismatic legends … Anthony following Dick Weber, Nicklaus following Arnold Palmer.
Ironically, Williams defeated Dick Weber’s son, Pete, 236-213 to win his elusive 41st Tour title and seventh major title. The younger Weber has 32 titles and also has seven majors. Anthony still leads Williams Jr. and Pete Weber with eight majors.
Anthony is even compared to basketball’s Michael Jordan in comebacks.
Both left their respective sports at the peak of their talent. Anthony “retired” in the late 1970s, then was inducted to the PBA Hall of Fame in 1981. But he got the itch to return and won Player of the Year titles in 1982 and 1983 before “retiring” a second time in 1984.
After a brief comeback failed in 1987, he later won seven PBA senior titles before retiring for keeps in 1991.
He almost didn’t become a star, failing in his first attempt at the PBA Tour in 1963. He returned home to Tacoma, Wash., where he worked the midnight shift in a grocery warehouse and practiced after work. He had a key to a local bowling house, allowing him to come and go at odd hours.
He also passed away in “odd” fashion, dying unexpectedly in 2001 from head injuries suffered during a fall down a flight of stairs at a friend’s house at the age of 63.
The odd hours brings me to a personal encounter with Anthony.
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My recollection occurred while I was working behind the counter at Imperial Lanes in 1973 in my early college years at Indiana State.
On a cold winter weeknight soon after the bowling area had just cleared out from the early leagues, a tallish man wearing glasses and sporting a flattop hairstyle (first clue, but it didn’t register at that moment) entered and quietly requested a couple of lanes to bowl.
No one else was bowling, the lights over the lanes were turned off over lanes 9-16, so I set him up on lanes 1 and 2. The only other sounds emanating inside were the occasional clicking of billiard balls from a handful of players occupying a couple of pool tables at the other end of the building.
The man’s repetitive left-handed (second clue, still no light coming on) booming strikes were the loudest strikes I had ever witnessed before and since as he methodically alternated between the two lanes.
It took a while, but my little gray cells came into alignment. I realized this man was the probably the greatest bowler of the time, Earl Anthony.
He bowled — lost in his own world — while I watched from behind the counter in awe. He bowled for about 45 minutes, and just as quietly as he had entered, strolled to the counter to pay his bill.
I introduced myself and ask him what brought him to Imperial Lanes, of all places, at such an odd hour.
He smiled and explained that he stopped to bowl, especially later at night when as few people as possible were around, while traveling between tournaments.
I talked with him a couple minutes longer, then he politely gathered up his gear and said he had to hit the road.
And just a quietly as he had entered, he slipped out and vanished into the night. Seconds later, it seemed as if he wasn’t there at all.
After a few moments passed following his departure, I suddenly remembered — being completely lost in the moment — that my late friend Dave Klueber, the night lane manager at the time, was behind the lanes performing repairs on the machinery.
I picked up the phone to the back, got Dave on the line, and informed him that Earl Anthony was just here. Being a bigger fan of professional bowling than even I was, he dropped the phone and seconds later burst open the door beside the pins on lane one.
He yelled, “Where is he?”
I said, “He just left.”
He quickly thought I was just pulling a practical joke on a slow night. I replied, he really was here. Dave harrumphed, turned around and retreated back behind the lanes, shutting the door behind him.
Over the next few weeks I tried to convince Dave, to no avail, that Anthony had indeed bowled at Imperial Lanes.
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n Men’s state tournament — Darrell Davis of Terre Haute is the early leader in Singles actual with a score of 740 at the Men’s State Tournament in Anderson. Davis is also 16th in All-Events actual and 28th in Singles handicap.
Other top performers from the Greater Terre Haute Men’s Association include Clay County Furnace (second place, team handicap), Brazilian Lanes (fifth place, team handicap) and U.S. Nails (sixth place, team actual).
Individual leaders include Troye Callahan (sixth place, all-events handicap) and Ryan Nichols (11th place, singles actual).
The tournament runs into May.
n Blazers win NJCAA tournament — At Buffalo, N.Y., the Vincennes University men’s team claimed its 14th National Junior College Athletic Association bowling championship March 11, defeating last year’s champion and host school, Erie Community College, by 352 pins in the two-day event.
It was the Blazers’, coached by Gary Sparks, third NJCAA title in the past four years.
VU freshman Kevin Andes and sophomore Chris Tomlinson both earned All-American honors.
Not resting on their laurels, VU qualified for the USBC Championships (including two- and four-year colleges) by finishing second in a qualifying tournament in Chattanooga, Tenn., last week.
VU’s 12,710 pins was third-highest of all 16 qualifiers from the four sectional sites throughout the country. Lindenwood University (St. Louis) with 13,040 pins won the Chattanooga tournament. Wichita State claimed the St. Louis sectional with 12,739 pins.
The USBC Championships are in Rockford, Ill. from April 26-29.
n Cox back in NCAA Tournament — The eight-team field competing for the third National Collegiate Women’s Bowling Championship on April 13-15 in Houston was announced this week.
One of the teams is Central Missouri State, national runner-up the past two seasons. Terre Haute bowler Sara Cox is a senior with the CMSU Jennies.
Also competing is the University of Nebraska, which defeated CMSU the past two seasons in the championship match.
Vigo County Bowling scores
Terre Haute Bowling Center
Prime Timers — High games: Samuel Scamihorn 278, Judy Meng 203. High series: Scamihorn 692, Jean Liggett 534.
Guarantee Roofing — High games: Mike Winemiller and David Paulin 300, Top Dawg’s 1,221. High series: Winemiller 803, Top Dawg’s 3,570
Affordable Awards Ladies — High games: Lori Martin 236, The Pro Shop 952. High series: Kim Peabody 577, The Pro Shop 2,705.
THBC Minors — High games: Cole Walker 167, Jaydon Myers 119. High series: Walker 406, Maria Walton 309.
THBC Majors — High games: C.J. Holt 234, Eryn Remley 258. High series: Patrick Bemis 665, Remley 726.
Toyota of Terre Haute — High games: Mysti Fisher 279, Gentlemen’s Club 1,137. High series: Eldon Blubaum Jr. 720, Gentlemen’s Club 3,271.
Gartland Foundry — High games: Matt Lugar 236, Therese Orman 231, Conley’s Wildcats 742. High series: Lugar 629, Orman 628, Conley’s Wildcats 1,979.
THBC Bantams — High games: Ben Dillion 154, Emily Hazelrigg 121. High series: Harrison Barnes 356, Hazelrigg 341.
THBC Preps — High games: Ross Lockman 165, Brittany Wence 151. High series: Lockman 427, Kelly Combs 370.
THBC Juniors — High games: Rodney Lockman 257, Lacey Auman 176. High series: Ian Bartlett 642, Megan Schmidt 482.
THBC Seniors — High games: Richard Danforth 255, Mackenzie Pepper 214. High series: Sean Pepper 709, M.Pepper 585.
Affordable Awards Mixed — High games: Jeff Alford 300, Melissa Dressler 236, Affordable Awards 827. High series: Alford and Bryan Barton 735, Dressler 648, Affordable Awards 2,313.
Chandler Construction — High games: John Verostko 257, Anya Fisher 214, Wasnidge Racing 810. High series: Chad Wasnidge 635, Letty Chandler 562, Wasnidge Racing 2,205.
THBC Prime Timers — High games: Richard Stephens 290, Pat Kays 224. High series: Stephens 739, Ruth Frey 542.
Ang Mixed — High games: John Chapman 238, Marsha Marcum 217, Shear Madness II 752. High series: George Meiners 660, Marcum 566, Shear Madness II 2,173.
C&E; Environmental — High games: Billy Furry 279, Brazil Auto Plex 1,087. High series: Furry 717, Brazil Auto Plex 3,091.
Wabash Valley Speed and Performance — High games: Troy Williams 298, Al’s Sports Bar 1,183. High series: Williams 771, Al’s Sports Bar 3,376.
Sunday Mixed — High games: Phil Cooper 279, Vicki Rich 236, Alley Cats 775. High series: Cooper 780, V.Rich 611, Alley Cats 2,247.
Austins Bar Thursday Mixed — High games: Jim Shepherd 247, Teresa Shepherd 210, Fitzpatrick Pearce 1,061. High series: J.Shepherd 667, Mandy Klopfenstein 578, Austins 2,910.
Tuesday Morning Ladies — High games: Eva Rigdon 192, Ole Ladies 483. High series: Rigdon 479, 2 Plus 1 1,292.
WIMS Lounge Monday Mixed — High games: Gary Figg 256, LaDonna Singleton 224, Left Overs 792. High series: Don Dalton and Gary Frazier 678, Singleton 598, Team Exxxtreme 2,247.
John Curry Lanes (Elks)
Thursday Mens — High games: Ray Sumner Jr. and Matt Stewart 256, Carosi’s 1,023. High series: Joe Trout 649, Carosi’2 2,873.
Tuesday Mens — High games: Wayne Loudermilk 268, Wallace Andrews 999. High series: J.C. Dressler 727, Wallace Andrews 2,867.
Monday Mens — High games: Bill Chance 248, Williams Plumbing and Heating 948. High series: Chance 698, Williams Plumbing and Heating 2,843.
Bush Restaurant Senior — High games: Tony Leturgez 247, Marilyn Daniel 214, Mike’s Stop and Shop 731. High series: John Musick 661, Beverly Deming 533, Good Ones 2,102.