Published: May 8, 2016 | Bowl.com
By Matt Cannizzaro and Jessica Gilgor
RENO, Nev. – For the second time in as many days, Robert Teeters of Lapel, Indiana, found himself in the spotlight at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships, this time as the newest member of the 100,000 Pin-Club.
Teeters, who celebrated his 60th march down the event’s famed Center Aisle on Saturday, needed 1,216 pins to become the 19th bowler in 113 years of USBC Open Championships history, and the second this year, to reach the pinfall plateau. Frank Clay of Crystal Lake, Illinois, earned the distinction May 1.
After rolling a 478 series in team Saturday at the National Bowling Stadium, Teeters started Sunday with 549 in doubles, leaving him just 189 pins shy of 100,000 heading into singles.
Needing five pins on the fill ball of his singles opener, the 73-year-old knocked down that and two more for good luck to add his name to the short 100,000-pinfall list.
“I was pretty lucky to get started as young as I did, and it’s really special to still be going strong and be able to reach these milestones,” said Teeters, who was 12 years old when he made his Open Championships debut at the 1955 event in Fort Wayne, Indiana. “I’ve bowled just about every tournament there is at some point, but this is the one I look forward to the most, even though it’s the toughest.”
Teeters could’ve reached the pinfall milestone sooner, but he missed the 1968 and 1969 events after being drafted, and he’s struggled on the tournament lanes in recent years. He also has been slowed down by a hip replacement, which, in turn, has affected his ball speed and scores.
Beyond that, Teeters feels great overall and plans to return to the Open Championships each year with his sights set on the tournament’s participation record of 71 years, shared by USBC Hall of Famers Bill Doehrman and Joe Norris, along with Sylvester Thiel of Lake City, Minnesota, who tied their mark earlier in the 2016 event.
Until then, though, Teeters said the most meaningful milestone so far was his 50th.
“My Dad had 47 when he died, and the last time I talked to him, I promised him I’d get to 50,” Teeters said. “But, I always look at that 71 number and feel I’m in pretty good shape for an old guy, so maybe I can get there. Not many people guess I’m in my 70s.”
Teeters got his start in bowling at an early age, and, as a 9-year-old, he had the opportunity to meet and keep score for USBC Hall of Famer Dick Weber. Just a few years later, Teeters made his own debut at the Open Championships.
Teeters finished singles this year with games of 191, 147 and 146 for a 484 series and 1,511 all-events total for a career pinfall total of 100,295, a 185.7 average.
For his accomplishments in this year’s tournament, he was presented with a chevron, plaque and engraved money clip for his 60th tournament as well as a crystal bowling pin for reaching 100,000 pins.
“This just makes me feel old,” joked Teeters, as fellow bowlers at the NBS looked on. “And, to do it here, is special. This is the toughest place to bowl and has been my whole life.”
Bill Lillard of Houston tops the career pinfall list with 124,087, followed by Joe Norris (123,770), Jimmy Schroeder (117,737), Glenn Allison (115,805) and Don Ellis (115,122). All except for Norris, who passed in 2001, still are active.
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