Jim Cumming bowls first 300 game at San Juan's Paradise Lanes
December 9, 2009 · Updated 9:19 AM
The way Jim Cumming put it, those two last pins finally fell over only because they were tired of wobbling.
But the record books will say this: Perfect game.
Cumming bowled the first 300 game in the history of Paradise Lanes Monday night, rolling 12 consecutive strikes in the second game of last night's league play. For the feat, he will receive a ring from the United States Bowling Congress, the game's governing body. He also wins prizes from local merchants.
Cumming, a right-hander, bowls in the Monday night league with Gina Sandwith and Nate Smith. His previous high game was 279; his average is 177. He bowls with a 15-pound Hammer Black Widow.
Cumming took up bowling about five years ago after a 35-year hiatus from the sport. He had rotator cuff surgery on his left arm earlier this year and couldn't bowl all summer long.
"On my very last ball, my knees turned to jelly," Cumming said. "I threw the worst shot in the history of 300 games. It was equivalent to shanking a golf ball off a tree and onto the green. The odds were 1 in 1,000 that it would end up a strike. Incredible."
It was bedlam on the boards after those two pins fell. "The best part was how happy everyone was for me," Cumming said. "I turned around and people were jumping around all over the place, genuinely happy this happened."
Cumming's accomplishment ends Paradise Lanes' seven-year pursuit of its first 300 game — an accomplishment which seemed elusive. Paradise Lanes manager Scott Olinger, who's bowled five 300 games in his career, has bowled a 290 and a 279 at his lanes. Mike Hogan and Jake Phillips each have a 289 on the books.
Cumming said coaching by Olinger improved his game. "I can't say enough about Scott. He's hands down the best bowler on the island, but he takes next to no credit. Before practice he makes time, will stand behind me, tell me about my feet, about everything in my game."
Olinger said bowling a perfect game takes some luck — like those two pins of Cumming's that finally fell in the second half of the final frame. "It's probably 80 percent skill, 20 percent luck," he said. "I've bowled 279 games that were way better than the 300 I've shot."
Olinger hopes Cumming's 300 game will boost interest and play at the lanes. "I'm hoping it will bump up a little interest in league play," he said. "It should help his level of play a little bit. After you've bowled a 300 game, you don't worry about it as much."
When an excited Cumming called his wife, Judy, from the bowling alley to tell her the news, she thought maybe they had won the league's drawing for a trip to Las Vegas.
"He said, 'You are not going to believe this,' " Mrs. Cumming said. "Then I started getting phone calls from other people."