By John Burbridge firstname.lastname@example.org
CHARLES CITY — When Ron Crooks bowled his first 300 game, Richard Milhous Nixon was still in the White House, The Beatles had yet to officially break up, and gasoline was 36 cents a gallon.
In other words, it was a long, long time ago.
“It was back in 1970,” the 73-year-old Charles City resident said. “I just got into the groove.”
Perfect games in bowling were a little less frequent back then. Often, the pair of lanes from which the score was recorded had to be cordoned off with tape similar to a crime scene so national bowling representatives can inspect the conditions before sanctioning approval.
Yet Crooks had a goal of recording at least five 300 games in his lifetime, and he finally achieve it 41 years later in 2011.
“I was glad that I got it,” said Crooks, whose first four came within about five years another. “After the fifth one, I wasn’t sure I was going to get another.”
On Oct. 2 during Tuesday afternoon Senior League action at Comet Bowl, Crooks once again was able to string 12 in a row for his sixth perfect game.
Comet Bowl’s Senior League is not like the other sanctioned leagues at the house. Bowlers meet on Tuesday and Friday afternoons primarily for a chance to stay active and socialize.
“We don’t even have teams,” Crooks said. “We just come out and bowl when we can make it out here.”
Though there have been older bowlers to have rolled 300 games, Comet Bowl owners Mark Barry and Peggy Sweet said they can’t recall if there was anyone senior of Crooks to have bowled one at Comet Bowl.
Crooks’s approach is simple … “old school” if you will.
“I go straight up the second arrow and hook it in,” said the right-hander.
But what about the mental approach — especially when going for that often elusive 12th strike?
“It’s best not to think too much about it,” Crooks said. “When you think too much, it can mess up your game.”
Though Crooks has six perfect games in league play, he’s been a tap here and a tap there from recording more.
“I’ve bowled a lot of 299s … 298s,” said Crooks, who once carried an average as high as 223 circa 2001.
Of all the trophies and awards Crooks has earned over his bowling lifetime, he’s most proud of the plaque he received honoring his participation in 50-straight Iowa State Bowling Tournaments.
“Now it’s up to 52,” Crooks said. “I may try to keep the streak going, but I’m happy I reached that 50 milestone.”
In addition to bowling in the Senior League, Crooks is a frequent sub for Hot Shots in Comet Bowl’s Wednesday Night 10-Pin Heaven League.
“I bowl about half the season,” says Crooks, who winters in Florida. “I bowl at the start of the season, and then when I come back, I bowl at the end.”