Sun Sports Contributor
NEW BERLIN – On Saturday, March 3, a Chenango county man came just about as close as anyone could come to recording what would have been just the 31st perfect three-game bowling series in the history of Lake Street Lanes Bowling Alley history.
Dale Brooker, who has been bowling for 22 years as a sanctioned bowler, said that before March 3, he joked with friends saying that if he ever shot a 900, he would quit bowling.
Fate would have a different plan in store for Brooker, who shot an 898 three-game series in a USBC sanctioned Friday night league at Lake Street Lanes, in New Berlin.
As per the league rules, bowlers play one game with the lights on. Then the two additional games are a more ‘rock n’ bowl’ style of play, where the lights are shut off, and the music is cranked up.
Brooker, who said that he has shot several perfect games previously, was coming into the night with a career high of 815 for his series.
Brooker began the fateful night, notched 12 strikes in a row for a perfect 300 in his first game. However, at that point, he wasn’t even thinking about a possible 900 series.
“This is a great accomplishment in itself,” said Rob Catena, owner and operator of Lake Street Lanes. “Of the 20,000 plus games rolled every year at Lake Street (lanes), only 15-20 end in perfection.”
“With no idea of what was to come - the main lights went dark and the party lights came on, as the jukebox got cranked up another notch or two,” Catena said. “Dale continued to strike and we joked a little how he could not miss.”
After completing a second perfect game following his first - a feat that has not been accomplished in a bowling alley in New Berlin since 1954, according to Catena - Brooker began to set his sights on the elusive perfect series.
“I honestly gave little thought to the real possibility of a 900 being rolled at this point,” said Catena. “When Dale still hadn’t missed after the opening 5 frames - that’s when even the bowlers who are not that into the game started to pay attention.”
“The next several shots Dale made were as if he was throwing the last ball in the tenth (frame),” said Catena.
Brooker kept up his incredible performance all the way until the last frame of the third game, with three strikes remaining to achieve the near impossible.
He managed to keep his adrenaline to a minimum, and composed himself before hitting his 34th and 35th strikes of the night.
“The crowd erupted in yet another cheer. There were probably about 40 people still waiting to see if the impossible could be done. Dale again took his time to steady himself and hurled his bowling ball down the lane,” said Catena. “Everyone has their own theory as to what happened next, I thought that the ball was on the same line and started preparing my brain to comprehend what my eyes were telling me, but as Dale started to jump and pump his fist - for whatever reason - maybe just a hair less speed or a little inside of target, the ball smashed into the pocket and left the 4 and 7 pin.”
To come so close to making history and fall at the last hurdle can be extremely disheartening, but Brooker seemed to take it in stride.
“I keep coming back to bowling because it’s a great way to spend time with family and friends,” said Brooker. “Also, it’s a competitive sport that is fair for all, no matter age or gender. Bowling is fun for all. In closing I only say this, it will never happen to me again.”