If you've ever heard of Plainfield, Illinois, it may be because of the deadly tornado that roared through town on August 28, 1990.
Perhaps now and going forward, it's because Plainfield's Kris Prather has won his first ever professional bowling tournament, and he did it in the official Bowling Capital of the World at World Series of Bowling X.
If you read to the end of the article, you'll understand why this was meant to be...it was truly destiny...but let's first get to the details of a very special Wednesday night at Thunderbowl Lanes.
Prather took on three-time tour winner Kyle Troup in the opening match of the PBA Scorpion Championship, and it was in this match that I saw something that I've never seen before in a PBA tournament: Troup's first shot of the game was a good one, but left a 10-pin standing. So he naturally went to grab the ball he uses to make spares...something he's done thousands of times in his career. But he couldn't find the ball.
He started looking around, then looked at Storm Bowling representative Tim Mack, and shrugged his shoulders. Remember...this is all playing out on live TV! So Troup had to try and make the spare with the ball he uses for strikes, and wasn't able to convert. Moments later, Mack walked up with the ball. During the commercial break in the middle of the game, I asked Troup what happened, and he said "My bad...I left it in the paddock."
For a while, it looked as if that spare miss might decide the game, but Prather's three strikes in the tenth frame sealed the deal for a 222-208 victory.
Prather then had to face tour veteran and ten-time winner Bill O'Neill in the second match. Things didn't start well for Prather, as he couldn't convert splits in the first and second frames. Normally, two open frames to start a game is death for a PBA bowler, but he righted the ship in the fourth frame and ripped off four straight strikes to pull nearly even with O'Neill.
Disaster then nearly struck (no pun intended) again when Prather left the 2-4-8-10 split in the 9th frame, and couldn't convert. O'Neill struck in the ninth, and was positioned to clinch the match in the tenth when he left the 3-6-7-10 split, and wasn't able to get the spare. That opened the door for Prather, who threw two strikes and nine pins on the last ball to eke out a 198-190 victory, and a berth into the title match.
That title match against B.J. Moore guaranteed that we'd see a first-time PBA winner...a very special moment. The two bowlers traded strikes, spares, and a split each and, by the seventh frame, only two pins separated two men who so dearly wanted to win his first PBA tournament. Like a true champion, Prather threw strikes in the eighth and ninth frames.
Now it was Moore's turn and, after a spare in the ninth, he left the 2-10 split on his first ball in the tenth.
Moore went on to convert that split, and threw eight pins on his final ball. That spare was important, because it forced Prather to get either a strike or spare in the tenth frame to win the championship, and a spare did the trick for a 200-190 victory, and his dream finally coming true in Detroit.
I spoke with Prather immediately following the trophy presentation, and you'll agree after listening to him that he's not only a humble champion, but a wonderful guy:
It was meant to be
I didn't hear this story until after the end of the tournament, and it's probably a good thing that the PBA's Janay Haggerty didn't tell me (or anybody), as it would have been the ultimate jinx. You see, earlier this week, Janay graciously approved my request for a single pin signed by the four winners of this week's four individual tournaments so that I could auction it off at the MDUSBC Tom McKay Invitational Tournament in December...a charity bowling tournament I compete in every year that has raised over a quarter-of-a-million dollars split evenly between the Karmanos Cancer Institute and the National Bowling Hall of Fame.
Well, the players are asked to sign pins all the time and, earlier in the day, Prather saw that pin sitting on a table and thought he was supposed to sign it. So he did. He didn't realize that he had just signed the pin that the week's four champions were to sign...BEFORE he won the tournament! Now, if THAT isn't destiny, then I don't know what is.
Congratulations, Kris Prather! Detroit is proud of its newest champion, and we look forward to many more great tournaments with you here!