Minnesota's Maynard Johnson reaches 65 years at USBC Open Championships

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By Matt Cannizzaro and Fran Piraino
USBC Communications

Maynard Johnson, of Crystal, Minnesota, is a man of few words, but his accomplishments at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships speak volumes.

After a memorable march to the lanes at the Oncenter Convention Center on Saturday for his 65th tournament appearance, Johnson now can claim membership in two of the most prestigious clubs in bowling.

The 87-year-old right-hander became the 12th bowler in 115 years of USBC Open Championships history to reach 65 years of participation, and he is one of 20 members of the event's 100,000-Pin Club.

"I'm pretty proud of both accomplishments," Johnson said. "Getting 100,000 pins was quite memorable because they stopped all the bowling and awarded me a 100,000 pin. And, I threw a pretty good ball to get it."

Johnson entered this year's event 12th on the career pinfall list, and he added 1,236 pins to his total this weekend with sets of 429 in team, 428 in doubles and 379 in singles.

In 65 years at the Open Championships, he has knocked down 105,512 pins for a career average of 182.2.

Late USBC Hall of Famer Bill Lillard Sr. of Houston is the tournament's all-time pinfall leader with 124,087, a record he set during the 2015 Open Championships in El Paso, Texas.

Johnson never has had a serious illness, which he attributes to his longevity at the Open Championships.

The Minneapolis USBC Bowling Association Hall of Famer still bowls once a week in a senior league at Texa-Tonka Lanes in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, where he averages 175.

"Coming to the tournament has gotten to be a habit, so I'll keep coming as long as I'm able," Johnson said. "I bowled my 50th when my son bowled his first, so I think that's pretty neat. He looks after me, and it's nice to have him around."

65YearRingForWeb250x140Johnson's son, Brett, made his 16th consecutive tournament appearance this week and escorted his father to the lanes. He stood close as his father was awarded a plaque, chevron and custom ring to commemorate this year's milestone.

"This is an awesome moment," Brett Johnson said. "Not just for him, though. It's a great experience for me, too. I've looked up to him as a father and a bowler. He's been a good mentor. He doesn't say much, but I know this is a really proud moment for him, and I'm very happy to be a part of it."

Maynard Johnson has seen every part of the country through his travels to the tournament, and he has enjoyed many stops, including Miami Beach and Tampa, Florida.

But, the 1972 event in Long Beach, California, was among his favorite tournaments because all five of his children were there to watch him bowl.

"When we were in high school, we planned our summer vacations around him bowling in the tournament," Brett Johnson said. "We had a lot of fun traveling around with him."JohnsonMaynardWithSon2018OCForWeb637x359

Maynard Johnson participated in his first league when he was 16 and made his Open Championships debut in 1951 when the tournament was held in St. Paul, Minnesota.

He joined the 50-Year Club in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 2003 and then became the 17th bowler in Open Championships history to reach 60 tournament appearances.

Johnson celebrated his 60th tournament at the famed National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nevada, in 2013 and returned a year later for his entrance into the elite 100,000-Pin Club.

Late USBC Hall of Famers Bill Doehrman and Joe Norris, along with the late Sylvester Thiel, share the tournament's participation record with 71 appearances each.

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