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St. Louis bowling team ties rare record

October 15th, 2009 started out like any other day. Going to work, rushing across town to the 6:00 pm league starting time, and having to deal with the rush hour traffic at the same time.

Little did the St. Louis Irrigation team, the members bowling that night were, Joe Nolan, Andy Cline, Jim Crane, Dale Butler, and Don Griffin, know or realize that they would join an elite group of teams that night.

What did they do to get into the record books as only the third team to ever accomplish this feat? Joe Nolan, Dale Butler, and Don Griffin all bowled 300 games in the same game.

This may not seem like much, but only two other teams in the history of the sport, that is in 110 years, have had three members bowl 300 games in the same game - one in Michigan and one in New York and both in 2005.

Don Griffin stated, "We got this team together as just a bunch of guys that wanted to bowl together for fun. I mean most of us bowl in the St. Louis Master League and we just wanted to bowl in a league for fun, you know no pressure to perform and all that."

As far as the record tying event goes, to Dale Butler commented, "I was more concerned about winning my brackets than what I was bowling, which really took the pressure of bowling another 300 game off of me. I mean, I had Joey (Nolan) in one bracket and Donny (Griffin) in another, and in my other bracket, the guy had the front nine too. So I wasn't thinking about the 300 game."

Dale Butler went on to say, "After Joe got a lucky break in the 11th frame, I knew he'd get his 300 and I decided that I just wasn't going to let the youngster beat me. So when it was my turn, I pack the hole all three shots. Joey was giving me some grief about tying him, but then I got to thinking that I'd seen a lot of teams with two 300s in a game, but I had never seen one with three. That's when I got nervous for Donny (griffin) getting his 300 too. When I told Joey this, I think he and I got more nervous for Don getting his than Don was."

Dale added, "When you get up to our age (60s) you never know if and when you won't be able to bowl again and just being part of a special event like this one makes you feel good." The "our age" is reference to Dale and I being friends and bowling partners for years.

Joe Nolan ended up the night with "about 730" and Dale bowled "around 760".

When I asked about the scores of the other two teammates, Don said, "They shot 221 and 145. The 145 games was because the guy was so nervous about seeing the three 300 games, that he was getting sick and opened the last three frames."

Don Griffin added, "After we all shot our 300s, we decided to see how long we could up the scoring. And, of course, winning the team games too. But what makes this even more special for me is that this was my 50th 300 game and my 53rd 800 series." Don ended up with an 815 series.

Some comments have been made that the scores were bowled on a "house" condition and, therefore, were to be discounted. However, no matter if the bowling center is considered "easy" or the house shot is considered "soft", when you are averaging better than 230, you still must make quality adjustments and shots. Besides that, the conditioning pattern must be approved by the USBC for the scores to count and they did pass certification.

Karl Elbrecht, who was scheduled to bowl that night and who is the team's sponsor, stated, with his usual sly grin, that he would have been "right there" with his team if he would have been able to bowl.

Karl happens to be one of those people that are considered "naturals" when it comes to playing sports - to the aggravation to the rest of us that have to work at it. The reason Karl was off that week was because he was playing in the Missouri State Amateur Golf Tournament, where he ended up placing third.

By Craig Mathews
The Bowling News