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The Perfect Series By Glenn Allison

Imagine what it would be like to lift a car with your own two hands, discover a particle that travels faster than the speed of light, or do anything thought by others to be impossible. It would be personally gratifying to say the least, but now imagine that few have reason to believe you. Years pass and others accomplish the same things. Their achievements are embraced, but you become an obscure answer in, "Trivial Pursuit."

That infuriating scenario is exactly what happened to Glenn Allison. On July 1, 1982 he became the first bowler to do "the impossible," delivering 36 strikes in three consecutive games of sanctioned league competition. That is an indisputable fact.

On Sunday, September 20, 2015, at 11:45 AM PST, I called La Habra 300 Bowl and spoke directly to him to find out what actually transpired that day. This is what he told me:

Within an hour of the completion of the 900 series, Bob Ramirez, the association secretary, arrived to inspect the lanes. As he walked past Tom Miller, the desk clerk, he muttered, "This is f_ _ _ ing ridiculous!" (Tom later relayed that to Mr. Allison). Mr. Ramirez completed his task within the next hour and informed Glenn that the lanes had passed. He even showed the paperwork stating that fact.

The following morning, the lanes were reexamined by another ABC official (name unknown) who had been flown in from Milwaukee, Wisconsin by the ABC. He issued the final report stating that the lanes had NOT passed. The controversy was born.

That the USBC has decided to allow this 900 series to remain unsanctioned is the greatest mystery in bowling history. Why? Because the reasons behind that decision are unjustifiable. Those "official" excuses* are:

> The lanes were non-compliant.
> An official change to Glenn Allison's 900 would also impact thousands of scores in that era.
> The USBC has a responsibility to enforce rules uniformly.
> The USBC can't rewrite history and apply a different standard more than 30 years later.

Let's take a closer look at those:

> The lanes were noncompliant. "Back in 1982, the rule book required an even coating of lane oil, or dressing in the sport's parlance, for 35 to 40 feet after the foul line. The lanes on which Mr. Allison bowled his 900 were found to have noncompliant lane-oil application; in this case, inspection showed it to be unevenly applied."**

That conclusion, if accurately reported, is questionable. Were the lanes really noncompliant? Jeff Richgels (hall-of-fame bowler and writer of the bowling blog, "The 11th Frame"), in an interview on NPR (March 15, 2015) stated, "The ABC has never really been super definitive about exactly what they thought was wrong with the lanes. Back then it was more a judgment call...."

That in itself is interesting if we follow the timeline: The lanes were dressed, two shifts of leagues bowled (Mr. Allison tallied 578 in the first, the second set produced the 900), the lanes were inspected and approved, then the lanes are re-examined the following day.......and rejected.

The second inspection proves the denial of the award and official recognition of Glenn Allison, was the result of a "judgment call." Checking a lane for oil compliance the day after it was applied is senseless.

The only way to accurately determine how oil was applied is to check it prior to the start of competition because bowling balls move/remove lane oil. On top of that, the dressing used in the early 80s was more prone to evaporation than today's formulas and the lacquered wooden lanes were known to absorb some as well. The longer inspection is delayed, the more noncompliant the oil will become.

If the ABC wanted a valid second opinion, they should have brought in an inspector from a nearby association and had it done ASAP. Instead, they flew in a second inspector to perform the re-examination the next morning. Why they did this is unknown, but it was irresponsible. The measurements taken by that official were worthless, yet were used to deny recognition of a great milestone in bowling.

The bottom line is this: Because the second inspection is apparently the one upon which the ABC's official decision was based, no incontrovertible evidence exists today concerning the compliance of the lanes. Since the USBC is steadfast in its defense of decisions made that day, does that mean we are stuck with the ABC's official judgment? No, it doesn't.

It is also a fact the second ABC official determined, by default, that La Habra 300 Bowl had not followed the rules regarding lane dressing on the night in question. The implication is Mr. Allison's performance resulted from the house applying an oil pattern which promoted higher scores. (Unexplained is how that accounts for a 578 in Mr. Allison's first set or generally lower scores on the night of his perfecto.)

But one indication exists that both officials actually approved of the lanes that night. If the man from Milwaukee truly believed the lanes were noncompliant, it would have been his duty to cite La Habra 300 for disobeying the rules when they applied the oil. That was a serious offense back then.

Was a citation issued? No such record exists. By not citing La Habra 300 Bowl, he was either endorsing them or was derelict in his duty. That alone should be grounds to overturn the judgment against Glenn Allison's 900.

Could either of the ABC's officials have had a private agenda? A trusted source told me that Bob Ramirez had vowed to never sanction a 900 series because he believed it to be impossible. Add that to his expletive utterance and we must wonder, "What happened to his report?" Did he change it or was it destroyed?

Hearsay evidence cannot be used to reverse legally binding decisions, but certainly, that official's history should have been included in the evidence reviewed by the USBC. Was it? Did he have a history of citing La Habra 300 Bowl for such violations? That is unknown at this time. What is known is that honor-scores had recently been approved at this establishment. Did the USBC look at those records? Only a thorough investigation of all the records will bring closure to this matter.

What about the Milwaukee-based inspector? Was he sent to gather useless data to preserve the "Holy Grail" of bowling? This article is not intended to influence this controversy via hearsay or conspiracy theory; it is to question the wisdom of the USBC's closure of this matter.

Takeaway: Lane compliance is certainly a valid reason to approve/disapprove an honor-score. In the case of Glenn Allison's 900 series, no valid proof exists to support the denial of a sanction for his achievement. On the contrary, indications are that the lanes were compliant. It is baffling that the USBC continues to support the judgment of an official who was obviously derelict in his duty on that occasion. His opinion should not be used as grounds for denying an award of such gravity.

> An official change to Glenn Allison's 900 would also impact thousands of scores in that era. This type of argument is used by organizations desperate to make uncomfortable situations go away. On the surface it sounds reasonable, but in reality makes no sense at all. This debate is not about scores from that era; it is about one score, by one man, at one center, on one particular day. If others feel slighted by the ABC, they should have the right to make their cases to the USBC also. I find it unreasonable to believe any such floodgates would suddenly open because of this matter.

Takeaway: This non-issue is an illegitimate reason for preventing Glenn Allison's recognition as this sport's Sir Edmund Hillary. The flawed logic makes this excuse irrelevant.

The USBC has a responsibility to enforce rules uniformly. Yes, it does! This is the best argument in favor of reversing the ABC decision of 1982. Bowling honor-scores was much more challenging on July 1, 1982 than it is today. Lane surfaces were macroscopically uneven, lane conditioning was imprecise, and balls were not technological marvels. Back then, 300's were rare and an 800 series was almost unheard of. Today, both are common.

The fact that the USBC won't sanction Mr. Allison's history-making performance under more primitive conditions is the height of hypocrisy. They have now sanctioned so many 900s that the achievement is barely noteworthy. Where is the uniformity in that?

"Even USBC officials, who laud Mr. Allison's graciousness and support for the game despite the controversy, allow that the 900 series would count were it to be bowled today."** Well then, the USBC should apply today's rules UNIFORMLY, recognize that Mr. Allison's set was nothing short of miraculous given the circumstances, and sanction his 900.

Perhaps they believe they can't because enforcing rules uniformly is impossible if the rules keep changing. Consider this: Sanctioning dozens of perfect series after easing the pathway to them makes it more necessary than ever to correct this injustice to Glenn Allison.

Takeaway: There is flawed logic behind this excuse as well. It reeks of a false agenda and is embarrassing to the integrity and membership of our sport!

The USBC can't rewrite history and apply a different standard 30 years later. Yes, it can! That's one of the reasons the USBC exists; to ensure the perfect game's history and future are unblemished. Part of that responsibility requires revisiting the past and correcting errors. This is not about rewriting history, it's about recognizing it. Mr. Allison's 900 series is a fact and that's all there is to it.

Takeaway: The USBC has painted itself into a corner by declaring this issue to be settled. That is regrettable but also an arguable point. Sometime in the future new leadership will see things differently and do the right thing. Why wait?

On September 3, 2015, La Habra 300 Bowl presented a commemorative ring to Mr. Allison. It was created by the company that makes the 900 rings for the USBC. Because this action was not endorsed by our sanctioning body, the USBC logo had to be removed. What a shame.

Let's recap the situation. That Glenn Allison rolled the first 900 series during league play is a fact. That the ABC refused to sanction that series is a fact. That the USBC has refused to overturn the judgment of its failed predecessor is also a fact.

Now, imagine that you are Glenn Allison. Would you be satisfied? I hope you said, "No!" because it could happen to you as well. When an indisputable achievement goes unrecognized by a failed organization and its replacement digs in its heels based on questionable, decades-old "evidence," something is wrong.

Ideally, the USBC should retract their closure of this matter, reexamine the "evidence," admit that mistakes were made, and award (without reservation) the "first" 900 ring to Mr. Glenn Allison. Is that likely to happen? Probably not because, as they say in football, "Lacking irrefutable evidence, the ruling on the field stands!"

So....... can anything be done to rectify this travesty? Of course! For every problem there's a solution. The answer to this dilemma is simple: A 900 ring, sanctioned by the USBC, should be presented to Mr. Glenn Allison to commemorate his achievement of the first RECORDED 900 series in the history of league bowling.

Takeaway: Glenn Allison deserves to be recognized by the USBC as the first to bowl a legitimate 900 series in league competition. If the previous advice were to be followed, he would get that without the USBC having to change its position. The USBC would not have to sanction the series; it would sanction the ring which commemorates THE ACHIEVEMENT (That might mean creating a new award category, but, after all, that is one of their jobs!).

While not the ideal solution, all goals would be met. This stain on bowling history would be erased and as a bonus, Glenn Allison would also become the first bowler to receive two ultimate awards for the same feat. If any person has ever deserved it, this man does!

One final thought to consider:

- Did Glenn Allison do anything wrong? No! In fact he was perfect not only on the approach but in how he has conducted himself since that night.

- Did the ABC do anything wrong? Absolutely! Denying recognition of Mr. Allison's achievement using flawed techniques and poor judgment is reprehensible.

- Did the USBC do anything wrong? Yes! Perpetuating the male bovine colonic discharge of the failed ABC is like being an accomplice to a crime.

Isn't it ironic that the one who did nothing wrong is the one being punished?

Winston Churchill said, "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else." The governing authority that collects our money and makes the rules which guide our sport have shirked this responsibility long enough. It's about time the USBC proved Mr. Churchill to be spot on.

P.S. Note to the USBC: If funding for the ring is an issue, send me the bill!

If you believe Mr. Glenn Allison, now 85, deserves the recognition he has earned, you have the right and responsibility to contact the USBC and say so. Their contact information is:

Phone: 800-514-2695 (Light up their lines!)
Email: (Make their server smoke!)
Correspondence can be sent to: USBC Headquarters, 621 Six Flags Drive, Arlington, TX 76011 (Flood their post office with copies of this article!)

Comments or questions? PICK UP THE PHONE!!! Call Carol Mancini @ 1-562-807-3600 (Mondays 2-7 PM PT). Or Email us at: We'd love to hear from you!

*Source: USBC concludes re-evaluation of Glenn Allison 900 series.
USBC Communications
Published: November 22, 2014

**Source: The Wall Street Journal
Glenn Allison Still Splits Bowling World With Perfect 900
Article written by Brian Herschberg
March 22, 2015

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