Glenn Allison, for many people still the original Mr. 900

    07/11/06

    Column

    By Joe Lyou

    2007BowlExpoJoeLyou.jpgI've known Glenn Allison for a long time. Like, since 1955. That's when Allison was voted the Southern California Bowler of the Year, and I was a sports writer writing about bowling for the old Los Angeles Mirror.

    That same year Allison took off for Chicago, where he joined the famed Pabst team. A couple of years later he hooked up with Steve Nagy's Falstaffs in St. Louis. After Nagy's death, Billy Welu became the new captain.

    Allison's career really took off at that point. He became a PBA charter member in 1958 and went on to capture six titles. Allison also collected four ABC eagles plus 10 other top-10 finishes. This past March 18-19, in the USBC Open Championships Tournament in Corpus Christi, the smooth-stroking right-hander became only the ninth bowler to eclipse the 100,000 pinfall mark.

    His crowning achievement on the lanes, however, came on the night of July 1, 1982, when Allison recorded his remarkable 900 series. It was the first time any bowler had rolled three consecutive 300 games in sanctioned league play.

    The news traveled fast. The next day the ABC's Burt Kellerman, Orange County Bowling Assn. secretary Bob Ramirez and western regional ABC Director Ken Knapp were all at La Habra "300" Bowl in La Habra, Calif. - just east of Whittier - to check the lanes. I was also there.

    As every bowling aficionado knows, Allison's 900 was not approved by the ABC because of non-complying lane conditions. The three officials - Kellerman, Ramirez and Knapp - all agreed that "under ABC Article 7, Section 3 of the ABC Rule Book, the lanes were not dressed in accordance with rules established by the delegates who attend the annual ABC Convention."

    It didn't matter that Allison - widely known now as "Mr. 900" - was bowling in an ABC-sanctioned center, on sanctioned lanes and against sanctioned pins while using a sanctioned Columbia bowling ball.

    Nor did it matter that three years earlier, in 1979, Allison had been inducted into the ABC Hall of Fame. (In 1984, Allison was voted into the PBA Hall of Fame.)

    Everything was sanctioned at La Habra "300" Bowl except for Allison's 900. A lot of Southern Californians - and others across the country - were very upset by the ABC's decision. I still am.

    Allison appealed…but it was to no avail, for it was like spitting against the wind.

    All this was brought to the forefront recently when a Milwaukee-area bowler named Mark Wukoman rolled the ninth 900 series - which was quickly approved by the USBC. Wukoman, 50, also was recognized by the USBC as "the oldest bowler to shoot a 900 series."

    Wrong!

    Allison, who was born on May 22, 1930 was exactly 52 years and 40 days old when he fired his 900 at La Habra. But, unfortunately, it's another record that won't be recognized by the USBC. Shafted again!

    The Glenn Allison story continues: The influential Bowlers Journal International magazine recently came up with a new award. The first recipient was Allison, who was presented the award by BJI editor Jim Dressel at the swank Columbia Dinner during the 2006 BWAA (Bowling Writers Assn. of America) Convention at the Las Vegas Hilton.

    Henceforth, the award will be known as the BJI Glenn Allison Award. It will not be presented annually, only when a bowler accomplishes something extraordinary on the lanes. (The SoCal Bowling Writers Assn. had a similar award - the Merle Matthews Award.)

    After the Columbia Dinner, I had a chance to talk with the likable Allison. The first thing I asked him was, "How do you feel about the two 900 series that were prebowled by teenager Robert Mushtare of Carthage, N.Y. and approved by the USBC?"

    "It doesn't bother me as long as I have this," Allison said, as he pointed to the USBC Hall of Fame patch on his Navy blue sports coat.

    Allison, one of the most popular bowlers to come out of Southern California, holds no grudges against the ABC or USBC. As a matter of fact, he has been - and still is - a Bowling Ambassador for the USBC.

    He says, "I've gotten a lot more publicity because the ABC turned down my 900 than if they had approved it."

    Here's an interesting statistic: In the past nine years, the ABC/USBC has approved eleven 900 series. Yet, in the previous 111 years of organized bowling, there were none … zero … zilch … nada. You'd think the USBC would give Allison credit for his 900 and put an asterisk next to it, at least.

    You know what I'd pay to see? An old-fashioned home-and-home match between the 73-year-old Glenn Allison and 17-year-old Robert Mushtare.

    My money would be on "Mr. 900." The original one, that is.

    By the way, did you know that when Allison rolled his 900, the league ("Anchor Girl Trios") didn't even shoot its average that night? Allison also competed in an earlier league that same evening - and failed to shoot 600. So he went out to his car and got out his Columbia ball. And, as they say, the rest is history.

    Final Item: Glenn Allison's skill with a bowling ball may have diminished some over the years, but you couldn't prove it by the way the talented septuagenarian performed in Corpus Christi last March. All he did was roll a splendid 1882 all-events score.

    Allison rolled 569 in the team event, 673 in singles and 640 in doubles. It was his 55th ABC/USBC tournament appearance. Absolutely amazing!

    "I've joined many of my friends on the (100,000) pinfall list, and it's nice to be in such good company," Allison said.

    They'd say the same thing about him.


    Email: tenpinslants710@aol.com