I know, I know. Bowling? But seriously, the story of Bill Fong has it all: ups, downs, more downs, family ambivalence, redemption and a near brush with glory.
When Fong was young, his parents divorced. He remembers the man who would become his stepdad taking his mom out on dates to a local bowling alley, where they could bring the kids. He noticed that when he was bowling, he wasn't thinking about whatever was going on behind him. His mind could focus on the ball, the lane, the pins-and the rest of the world would disappear. He had never been captivated by anything like that.
While still courting Fong's mother, his stepdad promised that if the boy ever got a score higher than 120 he'd buy him his own ball. "He never did," Fong says. "I bought it myself."
After his mother remarried and moved away, he still had his siblings, his quiet, hard-working father, and his bowling. He joined the high school team. He went to the public library and checked out stacks of books about bowling theory. After a stint in college, he found himself smoking a lot of pot and staying out all night bowling, trying to hustle people out of small bets. He'd leave the alley after the sun came up, go out to breakfast, sleep until 6 pm, and then repeat the process.
Fong was in the middle of a perfect series—three straight perfect games bowled, a rarity only achieved 21 times—when he possibly had a stroke. Well, he definitely had a stroke, but it may or may not have started toward the very end of his third game. In that third game, on the last frame, he rolled his final ball, in front of a huge crowd that had gathered and watched as one pin, the ten pin, stayed upright—ending his quest for 900 at 899.
Go ahead and check it out, it's a good read.
The Most Amazing Bowling Story Ever [D Magazine]