Bill Taylor and Mark Roth - Friends in Need, Friends Indeed

    07/07/09

    Column

    By Jim Goodwin of Stars & Strikes Magazine

    20090630CoachBillTaylor.jpgName any two people who had a bigger impact on the sport than Bill Taylor and Mark Roth.

    Maybe Dick Weber and a handful of others, but there is no question that Bill and Mark literally changed the sport; and we were, and are, lucky enough to call them good friends.

    There is an old tune by the pop-jazz group Blood, Sweat, and Tears with the lyric "The best you can hope for is to die in your sleep." And that's what Bill Taylor did on his 84th birthday, June 30 in California. He is survived by his wife Margaret, eight children, and bunches of grandchildren.

    His granddaughter Amy Herring told us that although he suffered with Alzheimer's disease the past couple of years, he died peacefully and without pain. For a man who fought for bowling's credibility for over 40 years, that seems like an appropriate reward from above.

    In the 1970's, we had heard of "the crazy guru guy from California who was out to change the bowling world," but we didn't get the chance to meet him face-to-face until the autumn of 1982. After Bill's friend Glenn Allison rolled that incredible 900 in July of '82, Bill took him on the road for a series of appearances at his Shotmaker Tournaments.

    We were running three bowling centers in Dallas then, and we booked an event in one of them. Bill came, and brought with him Glenn, Bob Johnson, (now editor of Bowlers Journal) and John Fantini (now one of the world's best coaches). We had a very successful event using Bill's heavy pins, and with the help of Dallas friends Bob Strickland and Pete Moore, we also had a well-attended bowling clinic in a local theater.

    For the next 20+ years, we valued our friendship with Bill. We didn't always understand his methods, but we never doubted his desire to make bowling better. He shook the hallways of bowling's hierarchy, he questioned the status quo, and right or wrong, he spent tons of his own time and money offering solutions, most of which, unfortunately, went unheeded by bowling's leaders.

    But in death, Bill gets the satisfaction of knowing that his crusade to save the sport was not in vain. We sincerely believe that many of the changes that are happening today to restore the integrity of the sport would not be happening if not for the bulldog tenacity of Bill Taylor in sounding the alarm around the globe for more than 40 years.

    Rest in peace, Warrior Bill. The battle is over, and you fought very, very well.


    Roth Needs Our Help


    MarkRothSupportFund.jpgIronically, the man who inadvertently helped Bill Taylor expose some of the sport's flaws was a brash young man from Brooklyn. In the 1970's and 80's, Mark Roth did things with a plastic bowling ball that no one, except perhaps Bill Taylor, dreamed possible.

    Bill's crusade was to save the sport. Roth's was to conquer it; and he did, winning 34 PBA titles and being named Player of the Year four times, Senior Player of the Year in '02, six time High Average Award winner; a Hall of Fame career of the highest caliber.

    One of the most remarkable records in all of sports history was Roth's domination of the tour in the late 1970's. In '77, '78, and '79, he won 19 of his 34 titles, but hidden in the stats is the incredible achievement of bowling for a title 33 times during those three years. It is not a stretch to say he was Bowling's 'Tiger' during those years.

    Today, however, he is fighting a new, even tougher battle. On May 31, Mark suffered a severe stroke, paralyzing the entire left side of his 58 years-young body. In the past month, he has begun the long, slow road to recovery. Will he ever bowl again? Will he ever walk again? We are praying that he will do both. He says he will.

    Sadly, Mark never came close to 'tiger' money in his long career, and like many athletes of his era, finds himself unprepared for the huge financial crisis he and his beautiful wife Denise now face. They need our help, and we are hopeful you will respond.

    How? By donating whatever you can to the Mark Roth Support Fund established through The Bowling Foundation. All donations are tax deductible, and will go directly to Mark and Denise to help defray the enormous costs of rehab and every day living expenses.

    How many thousands, perhaps millions of young bowlers imagined that they would become "Mark Roth" early in their career? We know of at least one who idolized Mark who also went on to win 34 PBA titles. A fellow named Pete Weber. Pete has often said, "I love my dad, but Mark was my favorite bowler."

    If you were one of those Mark Roth 'wannabees', like PDW, or even if you were not, send a donation today. We have often said that bowlers are some of the most generous people in the world – now is the time to prove it once again.

    For info on how to donate by mail, phone, or credit card, please go the The Bowling Foundation website www.bowlingfoundation.org. Or call BF Executive Director Troy Greisen or assistant Tennelle Milligan at the International Bowling Campus 817 649-5105 or toll free 800 343-1329.