Blair’s 300 game brings down house |

Blair’s 300 game brings down house

John Shott, Tribune correspondent

Welcome! Who would have thought on March 4 that everyone at Tahoe Bowl was actually there to observe the Kevin Blair Show. That’s right, many people make reservations to attend a show, but this show was spontaneous — no one had any idea that they were about to experience one of the more exciting and memorable events of their lifetimes.

The last perfect league game at Tahoe Bowl was bowled almost four years ago. The 41-year-old Blair ended the 300-game draught by rolling 12 consecutive strikes in the second game of the His & Hers League.

He opened his special evening by rolling six strikes in a row before sticking three solid 10 pins to finish with a score of 245 on lanes five and six.

As everyone began their second game, no one had the slightest idea what they were about to witness.

I happened to keep an eye on Blair from the outset of his second game.

He proceeded to step up and smoothly deliver strike after strike. When Blair reached his ninth strike, everyone in the bowling alley anxiously awaited his next shot.

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The excitement and anticipation began to mount as he delivered his 10th strike.

By this time, everyone in the bowling alley, including the nonplaying public and spectators, were gravitating toward the enormity and rarity of what Blair was performing.

Bang went the 11th strike, drawing cheers from spectators and words of encouragement for Blair to complete the perfect game.

As Blair stepped onto the approach, the crowd gave their hero of the moment the ultimate respect, quieting to the point that you could hear a towel drop to the lanes. Blair took a bit longer to size up his next and most pivotal delivery. His smooth five-step delivery allowed him to stroke the ball directly over his mark. As the ball began to hook and pick up momentum, the pins didn’t stand a chance. They were plowed over like they were hit by a Mack truck.

The 300 game was a done deal and everyone who witnessed Blair’s act of perfection exploded into cheers. Electricity filled the alley as each person proceeded to congratulate Blair on his enormous achievement.

The aura afterward and sheer amazement on people’s faces was beyond description. Ninety percent of league’s bowlers in attendance had never witnessed a perfect game.

It was Blair’s 13th sanctioned 300 game. He finished his three-game series with a score of 214, giving him the highest series — 759 — this year at Tahoe Bowl.

To understand why Blair can summon these special games from time to time, one needs to only go back to his bowling roots.

He started bowling at Deerfield Lanes in Deerfield Beach, Fla., as a 17-year-old high school senior. A case of being in the right place at the right time enabled Blair to be trained and taught by retired professional bowler Butch Gearhart, a seven-time national champion.

Blair bowled in junior leagues where he’d practice at least four times a week and started rolling in men’s leagues twice a week.

Blair moved to Lake Tahoe in 1997 and began bowling in the men’s scratch league.

Blair loves competition and says that bowling is a great social activity to be enjoyed by people of all ages.

“You can meet new friends and enjoy yourself by bowling,” Blair said. “Who knows where bowling will take you until you try it.”

Just look what bowling has done for him.

During his brief time in Tahoe Bowl leagues, Blair has compiled quite an impressive list of accomplishments:

1. Earned Men’s Bowler of the Year honors for the 1999-2000 season by rolling the highest game of the year (297) and highest series (755).

2. Named Men’s Bowler of the Year honors for the 2000-01 season by organizing, conducting and running the scratch elimination tournaments each week in the His & Hers League. Rolled the highest series for the 2000-01 season (760) with games of 278, 258 and 224. Acquired the most games over 200 — 37 out of a possible 54 games, including nine games over 250. Fired the highest game (280) in the 42nd annual City Tournament. Averaged 207 for the season in the His & Hers League.

3. Captured Bowler of the Year honors for the 2001-02 season. Recorded the highest season series (761) with games of 231, 279 and 257 in the His & Hers League. Collected the most games over the 200 mark, 105 out of 144. In addition, he rolled the highest game of the season (299), connected for 16 games exceeding the 250 mark and collected nine 700-plus series. His fabulous season also included the high average award from American Bowling Congress in the His & Hers League (219), Guys & Dolls League (217) and Basin Bowlers League (216).

With his achievements in 2002-03, Blair is well on his way to becoming the Bowler of the Year for the fourth consecutive year.

Blair’s biggest compliment came from Palmer Falgrin, a PBA Tour member, who told him to stick the game because he had all of the ingredients of becoming a great bowler.

Those kind words have stayed with Blair, who dreams of becoming a Senior Tour bowler someday.

Blair’s positive attitude and presence on the lanes, coupled with his soft and kind nature, make him a joy to be around. His character was shaped by his mother Fran, who passed away a little more than a year ago.

Blair dedicated his latest 300 game to his mother, who I had the opportunity and pleasure to know and respect.

His dedication, sportsmanship, love of the game, determination and desire, along with continual advice and support of fellow bowlers, have truly led to his accomplishments in bowling. I, for one, will always have the utmost respect for him.

For his feat, Blair will receive $25 from the South Tahoe Women’s Bowling Association, $100 from the Tahoe Sierra Bowling Association, $175 from Tahoe Bowl owner Vic Nagy and a 300 ring from ABC.

If you’re up for a bowling match, you can always find Blair at Tahoe Bowl every Tuesday night. He’s always ready to bowl against you.

Congratulations on your awesome performance, Kevin!

Note: Scores, other results and inside scoops will appear next week in the Tribune.