BATON ROUGE, La. - Longevity was the theme at the 2012 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships this weekend, and David Stackhouse of Ashland, Ohio, was the fourth bowler in two days to celebrate 50 years on the tournament lanes.
The 77-year-old right-hander was the 13th and final competitor scheduled to join the elite 50-Year Club this year, and he now is one of 155 bowlers in history to reach the milestone.
When Stackhouse made his first USBC Open Championships appearance at the 1960 event in Toledo, Ohio, everything about the tournament was an eye-opening experience, especially the march down Center Aisle. His trip down Center Aisle at the Baton Rouge River Center on Sunday was just as memorable.
"Well, I was pretty happy with just reaching 50 years," said Stackhouse, who bowls league at Luray Lanes in Ashland. "But I never realized what it meant to me until they pulled that curtain open and I walked down Center Aisle between the people that work the tournament. I thought that was very impressive. When I looked out through the aisle, I saw my wife grinning at me, and I was in awe of it all."
Stackhouse's wife, Ann, also was a pretty good bowler and has been very supportive during his Open Championships journey.
"It means a lot to have her here," Stackhouse said. "We always enjoy the trip along with the bowling. She was a hell of a bowler in her day, too. She was very tough. She has some knee problems now and doesn't bowl anymore, but she still comes along. She's a great supporter."
Many bowlers marvel at the accomplishments of other bowlers, especially at the Open Championships. Stackhouse remembers reaching 46 years, while witnessing Les Berry of Wooster, Ohio, reach his 65th year of participation at the Albuquerque Convention Center in 2008. Stackhouse thought if Berry could reach 65 years at the age of 92, he surely could reach 50.
That memory has been on Stackhouse's mind ever since, and it has been one of the driving forces as he continues to navigate through the Open Championships record books.
"I had a couple good years where I did a few things," Stackhouse said. "In Indianapolis in 1974, I managed to finish 22nd in singles and 26th in all-events. That was outstanding for me. But, there was a fella named Les Berry, who a couple of years ago, reached 65 years. I had 46 that year, and he was 19 years older than me. I said if he can make 65, I can make 50."
Stackhouse closed out his 50th year with 440 in singles, 422 in doubles and 419 in team for a 1,281 all-events total. In 50 tournaments, he has knocked down 74,676 pins for a career average of 170.4.
On Saturday, Wayne Vanwey of Springfield, Ohio, George Barnes of Buffalo, N.Y., and Bill Hohensee of Lexington, Ky., added their names to the list of bowlers who have competed in 50 Open Championships. They all are in pursuit of the late Bill Doehrman and USBC Hall of Famer Joe Norris, who each competed in 71 tournaments. Syl Thiel of Lake City, Minn., is the active participation leader with 67 years.
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.