BATON ROUGE, La. - Doug Swords of Greenacres, Fla., has dedicated more than 30 years of his life to the sport of bowling, and that dedication led him to the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships, where he became the 147th bowler in history to make 50 appearances on the tournament lanes.
The 77-year-old right-hander, originally from Detroit, made his USBC Open Championships debut at the Motor City's Cobo Hall in 1961. Five decades later, he was surrounded by his friends and family as he made his ceremonial walk down Center Aisle at the Baton Rouge River Center on Saturday. He was joined in Baton Rouge by his wife, Beverly, and son, Dale, who in flew in as a surprise.
"It definitely was an eye-opener," said Swords, who received a plaque, chevron and diamond lapel pin to commemorate the milestone. "I've never seen anyone go through that. I've seen hall of fame inductions because we were always here on hall of fame night. It was exciting. There's no question about that. And, I know my wife enjoyed it, too."
Swords spent 30 years serving the Greater Detroit Bowling Association in several capacities such as president, board member and tournament committee member. Along with his years as a pillar in the Detroit bowling community, he always has made time for the Open Championships, serving as a team captain for many years. Long before this weekend's ceremonial festivities, he thought he'd already received everything he deserved from the sport.
"I got back everything I feel deserving of," said Swords, who bowls league at Verdes Tropicana in West Palm Beach, Fla. "I'm in the Detroit Hall of Fame for meritorious service. I started a couple of senior tournaments for the association - the Senior Masters and the Super Senior Masters. I've never missed a committee meeting or any function that represented the association. That was strictly enjoyable for me. I don't feel like the game owes me anything."
Even as he approaches 80, Swords continues to stay sharp by competing in two leagues, including one scratch league, along with several practice games each week. He keeps his fitness level up as well by riding his bike 10 miles per day, and he walks a lot. As long as he feels good, he will continue competing at the Open Championships.
"As long as I feel good, I'll be here," Swords said. "As long as I feel I can contribute to a team, I'll keep doing it. I feel healthy. I have a couple of ailments, but they don't slow me down. Today, I even had people I didn't know come up and congratulate me. They just kept coming up to me and shaking my hand. One bowler even told me he wanted to do it just the way I did it."
Swords closed out his 50th year with 542 in singles, 497 in doubles and 437 in team for a 1,476 all-events total. In 50 tournament appearances, he has knocked down 84,992 pins for a career average of 188.8.
Sponsors for the 2012 USBC Open Championships include Circus Circus Reno, Eldorado Hotel Casino Reno and Silver Legacy Resort Casino Reno. Other sponsors include the Belle of Baton Rouge, official brackets sponsor; Kegel, official lane maintenance provider; Humana, official registration sponsor; Bud Light and Budweiser, official beer sponsors; The Advocate, official publication sponsor; Brunswick, official lane provider; Steltronic, official scoring system; Storm Bowling Products and Nationwide Insurance.