RENO, Nev. - United States Bowling Congress Hall of Famer Bob Hart of Suwanee, Ga., became the 14th bowler in 111 years of USBC Open Championships history to join the tournament's elite 100,000-Pin Club.
The 76-year-old right-hander entered the event just 472 pins shy of the milestone and solidified his place in the records books with a ringing 10 pin in the fifth frame of his third team game at the National Bowling Stadium on Tuesday.
Dozens of friends, fans and family members, including his wife Beverly, watched in person, while hundreds more tuned in live on BowlTV. USBC Managing Director of Tournaments Brian Lewis was in town to present Hart with the coveted crystal pin to commemorate the accomplishment.
Hart is a three-time titlist at the Open Championships, winning Regular Doubles, Regular All-Events and Team All-Events in 1974, and continued success earned him a spot in the USBC Hall of Fame in 1994.
Recent health issues made the months leading up to his 58th tournament appearance a little more challenging, but Hart worked hard to make sure he didn't miss his annual march down Center Aisle. Now, he's one step closer to the top of the career pinfall list, occupied by late USBC Hall of Famer Joe Norris, who knocked down 123,770 pins in a record-tying 71 events.
"You don't even realize how much this means until it's about to happen," said Hart, whose Open Championships career began at the 1954 tournament in Seattle. "You could really feel the electricity in the building, and that's what this sport is all about. I feel honored, but very humbled at the same time. What an amazing experience."
Hart finished his team event with games of 192, 192 and
177 for a 561 series and added 552 in doubles and 532 in singles for a 1,645
all-events total. He increased his career pinfall to 101,173.
"I had no idea all of these friends and family members and people I've met over the years through bowling all were going to be here," Hart said. "I knew it was going to be a memorable day, but it really turned out to be a lot of fun, too."
The next goal Hart will focus on is adding his name to the short list of bowlers who have reached 60 years of participation on the championship lanes. Entering the 2014 Open Championships, only 17 bowlers in history have eclipsed the 60-year mark, with two more scheduled for this year. Norris shares the participation record with fellow hall of famer Bill Doehrman.
Active participation leader Sylvester Thiel of Lake City, Minn., recently made his 69th tournament appearance, while active pinfall leader Bill Lillard Sr. of Houston will hit the lanes April 7 looking to add to his 121,434 career total.
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