PBA Spare Shots: Don Johnson’s 299 is PBA’s Most Memorable Moment; More “Moments” to Come

by Bill Vint February 23, 2018 09:28

On Saturday, April 4, 1970, eventual PBA Hall of Famer Don Johnson had already locked up the Firestone Tournament of Champions title with his 11th consecutive strike at Riviera Lanes in Fairlawn, Ohio. As opponent Dick Ritger and millions of ABC-TV fans watched, Johnson threw what appeared to be another perfect shot in pursuit of a $10,000 perfect game bonus.

But the 10 pin stood, and Johnson fell to the approach in disbelief and disappointment. That iconic image, captured on black-and-white film by Akron Beacon Journal photographer Don Roese, is arguably the most reproduced photo in bowling history, and it spawned an artistic interpretation by Marc Moon that graced the cover of the 1971 PBA Tour Program.

Johnson’s historic 299 also has been selected as the “most memorable moment” in the PBA’s 60-year history, as revealed during Sunday’s ESPN telecast of the Go Bowling! PBA 60th Anniversary Classic from Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis. That moment along with the other “top 10” moments kicked off the unveiling of all 60 “most memorable moments” that will be revealed, one a day, Monday through Friday, on the PBA’s social media outlets beginning next Monday and continuing until all 60 moments are announced.

Sunday’s top 10 – which were previewed to the more than 300 attendees at the PBA 60th Anniversary Celebration dinner and hall of fame ceremonies Saturday night – include the following. Note the list actually includes 11 “memorable moments” due to a tie for 10th place. Keep in mind the list, selected by a large group of long-time industry veterans, players, PBA officials, etc., is focused on the “most memorable moments” in PBA history, not necessarily the “greatest” accomplishments:

1) Don Johnson’s 299 game in championship game of the 1970 Firestone Tournament of Champions. He fell to floor after leaving a 10 pin on his final shot, rising to a standing ovation at Riviera Lanes.

2) Eddie Elias’ meeting with PBA’s 33 founding members in Syracuse, N.Y., in 1958.

3) Kelly Kulick becoming the first woman to win a PBA Tour title in the 2010 PBA Tournament of Champions in Las Vegas.

4) Pete McCordic winning a $100,000 bonus with a nerve-wracked 300 game on ABC-TV in 1987.

5) Pete Weber striking in the 10th frame to claim a record fifth U.S. Open title by one pin in 2012, then uttering his famous, “Who Do You Think You Are, I Am!”

6) Earl Anthony surpassing the $1 million career earnings milestone for the first time in winning the 1982 PBA National Championship.

7) Del Ballard Jr., needing two strikes and 7 pins to win the 1991 Fair Lanes Open over Pete Weber, gets the first two but rolls a gutter ball on last shot to lose.

8) Mark Roth becoming the first player to convert the 7-10 split in a 1980 televised PBA final.

9) Bob Learn Jr. throws 44 out of a possible 48 strikes, including a 300 game, for a record four-game TV total of 1,129 pins to win the PBA Flagship Open in an arena in his hometown of Erie, Pa., in 1996.

10) A tie between the 2011 TOC from Red Rock in Las Vegas where Mika Koivuniemi defeated Tom Daugherty in the biggest margin of victory ever, 299-100 (lowest game ever bowled on TV) and then goes on to win the $250,000 record first prize. It was the PBA’s first live telecast on ABC-TV since 1997. The second half of the tie involves Randy Pedersen needing a strike to defeat Ernie Schlegel to win the 1995 Touring Players Championship. But Pedersen’s seemingly perfect shot leaves a stone 8 pin, prompting Schlegel to go into a wild celebration.

To make sure you don’t miss out, follow the PBA on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ProfessionalBowlersAssociation) or Instagram (pbatour), subscribe to the PBA channel on YouTube (PBABowling) and tweet along on Twitter (@pbatour).


The PBA Bowling Challenge Mobile Game’s PBA 60th Anniversary Classic Challenge is underway. If you are a mobile devise user, you can download the free PBA Bowling Challenge app, look for the PBA 60th Anniversary venue, and start bowling immediate. If you bowl a game that tops the 244 Jakob Butturff bowled in winning the Go Bowling! PBA 60th Anniversary Classic, you’ll be eligible to win the sweepstakes.

Each score you bowl that beats Butturff’s 244 will count as an entry. One entry will be randomly selected as the winner and will receive a bowling pin signed by Butturff plus 5,000 Gold Pins! Players can enter scores as often as they wish until 12:59 a.m. EST on Monday, Feb. 26. Here is a link to the official rules http://bit.ly/PBA60th_OfficialRules.

Everyone with a mobile device is invited to join the fun. The PBA Bowling Challenge Mobile Game app is a free download at Google Play and Apple App stores. Use these links: Google Play: http://bit.ly/PBABowlingChallengeAnd.


The PBA has announced two new corporate sponsors have joined the lineup for its upcoming return trip to Bayside Bowl in Portland. OceanView at Falmouth will be the titled sponsor of the 2018 PBA League Elias Cup competition, and Port Property Management will be the titled sponsor for the PBA Xtra Frame Maine Shootout leading into the PBA League competition.

The PBA Xtra Frame Port Property Management Maine Shootout, a single-elimination match play event offering a PBA Tour title if the winner is a PBA member, will be held April 17-18 and will be covered from start to finish, live on PBA’s Xtra Frame live streaming channel.

The OceanView at Falmouth PBA League competition will begin with a “seeding” round for all eight teams on Friday, April 20, followed by quarterfinal, semifinal and Elias Cup championship rounds on Saturday and Sunday. All of the weekend rounds will be live streamed on ESPN3 and taped for delayed telecast on ESPN on four consecutive Sundays at 1 p.m. EST, beginning on April 22.


Skechers, one of America’s leading footwear manufacturers, has joined the lineup of advertisers participating in the 2018 Go Bowling! PBA Tour telecast series on ESPN.

“Skechers is excited to be a part of the current schedule of PBA Tour telecasts on ESPN. The audience of the PBA Tour fits our demographic profile nicely for our ‘wide fit’ line promoted by Howie Long and our line of Skechers slip resistant “work” footwear,” said Skechers Senior Vice President of Advertising Gary Patrick.

PBA’s series of live telecasts in February will be followed by coverage of the Mark Roth-Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship, the USBC Masters and the PBA League Elias Cup series in late March and April, reaching millions of American sports fans.


In the newest edition of PBA Player’s Perspective on Xtra Frame, Sean Rash reflects upon his 2017 PBA Xtra Frame Gene Carter’s Pro Shop Classic victory. The Xtra Frame interview debuts today; the Perspective will be available on PBA’s YouTube channel on March 1.

Xtra Frame Player’s Perspectives currently archived on Xtra Frame and available on PBA’s YouTube channel include Pete Weber (2012 U.S. Open), Rhino Page (2017 PBA Xtra Frame Kenn-Feld Group Classic), Chris Barnes (2015 DHC PBA Japan Invitational), Tom Daugherty (2016 Wolf Open), EJ Tackett/Tommy Jones (2017 FireLake Tournament of Champions), and Marshall Kent (2017 Oklahoma Open).

Xtra Frame subscription packages are offered for three days, a full month or a 12-month Xtra Frame Season Ticket. Visit xtraframe.com for details on how to subscribe.


Stoney Baker of Canton, Ga., defeated Scott Thomsen of Sumter, S.C., in a one-ball sudden death roll off that went two frames to win the PBA50 Dave Edwards Toyota Spartanburg Southern Open presented by Global 900 at Paradise Lanes in Spartanburg, S.C., Sunday.

Baker, who won $2,000 along with his 28th career regional title, left a 4 pin on his second roll-off attempt after the players tied at 237-237 and both threw strikes with their first roll-off shots. Needing a strike to win or nine pins to extend the match, Thomsen left the 2-5 on his second shot to hand Baker the title. Thomsen pocketed $1,000 as the runner-up.

In the semifinal round, Baker defeated Dick Gran of Hartville, Ohio, 186-170, while Thomsen disposed of Brian Kretzer of Dayton, Ohio, 232-178.

● PBA’s 2018 regional tournament season kicks into full gear in March, beginning with the March 2-4 weekend when Strike Zone Lanes in Canton, Ohio, hosts the PBA50 Strike Zone Lanes Central Classic presented by Brunswick; Holiday Lanes in Lakewood, Colo., hosts the PBA Dreams Never Die Southwest Super Regional presented by Denver Broncos’ star CJ Anderson and Storm, and Gold Country Lanes in Sutter Creek, Calif., hosts the Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort Championship.

● The March 9-11 PBA Regional weekend calendar includes the PBA50 Fayetteville South Open at Lafayette Lanes in Fayetteville, N.C.; the Colorado Springs Southwest Super Regional at Harmony Bowl in Colorado Springs, Colo., and the Sands Regency tripleheader including the West/Northwest Winter Challenge presented by Hammer, West/Northwest Winter Classic presented by Ebonite and the PBA50 Winter Classic presented by Track – all at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno.

● A busy weekend is on tap for PBA Regional competitors over the March 16-18 weekend when the schedule includes the Trumbull County Tourism Bureau Central/East Open presented by Radical at Bell-Wick Bowl in Hubbard, Ohio; the PBA50 Showtime Lanes Midwest/Central Open in Virden, Ill.; the Jac’s Lanes Valdosta South Open in Valdosta, Ga., and the Odessa Southwest Open at Astro Bowl in Odessa, Texas.

● PBA’s March 23-25 regional tournament schedule includes the PBA50 Rossi Lanes Open in Elmira, N.Y.; the PBA50 Monte Skeels Allstate Midwest/Central Open at Liberty Lanes in Carpentersville, Ill.. and the Caveman Bowl Northwest/West Open presented by DV8 in Grants Pass, Ore.

● Closing out the March PBA Regional schedule will be the Copperfield Bowl Southwest Challenge for non-title winners over the March 30-April 1 weekend in Houston, Texas.

● For complete PBA Regional schedules, rules and entry information, visit pba.com, open the “schedules” tab and click on PBA Regional Tours to find the event(s) in your area…and remember, you can follow “live scoring” for all PBA Regional events on pba.com (easily accessible for Apple device users using the new PBA app).

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