Thursday, Sept. 7, will mark a major bowling milestone in Lexington.
On that date 50 years ago, Pauline Huffman rolled the first sanctioned 300 game in the city’s history.
Huffman, who had averaged 169 the season before, rolled her 300 in the second game of the Ladies Major League at Eastland Lanes while on her way to a 630 series. Huffman, who had been bowling for 25 years, was on the Jerry’s Drive-In team.
By today’s standards, Huffman’s accomplishment would not have much of an impact. But in 1967, it was enormous. Not only was it Lexington’s first 300 game, it was rolled by a woman.
These days, there are typically 50-plus perfect games per season — 53 during the 2016-17 season — but Huffman’s was the first since bowling came to Lexington in the 1890s.
Many men had averaged 200 over the years, but none had rolled a perfect game. The closest was Howard Ogilvie, who came up a pin shy with a 299 game at Congress Lanes on Feb. 17, 1946. Congress Lanes was located on Main Street above Barney Miller’s. The second closest was Olin Jones, who rolled a 298 at Congress on March 28, 1948.
Huffman’s score did not open the floodgates for more perfect games, as many at the time thought would be the case. The next one was rolled by Helen Gilkerson on Jan. 23, 1973, at Southland, more than five years after Huffman’s feat.
The first perfect game by a local man was on April 16, 1973, by Lloyd Feddars at Southland. From that point, one or two a year were rolled until the arrival of modern bowling balls in the 1980s.
Then, in 1984 when the American Bowling Congress delegates approved new lane dressing regulations more commonly called short oil, the explosion began.
Huffman was inducted into the Greater Lexington USBC Hall of Fame in 1992, 25 years after her perfect game. Unfortunately, she never knew it because she was in the last stages of Alzheimer’s Disease.
So as today’s bowlers roll their high scores weekly, let’s hope they pause and remember the lady who brought perfection to local bowling 50 years ago.