By Matt Cannizzaro and Brian Hirsch
LAS VEGAS – Twice before, Marvin “Bud” Stoudt of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, and Gary Bower of Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, shared the spotlight at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships, and nearly four decades later, the two again were the center of attention on the championship lanes.
The duo first found success together at the 1970 USBC Open Championships, claiming the Team All-Events title, and they rendezvoused in the winner’s circle again eight years later for another Team All-Events victory.
The wins helped earn each induction into the USBC Hall of Fame, Stoudt in 1991, and Bower in 2001, but the accolades didn’t stop there.
Still teammates in 2017, Stoudt stood laneside Saturday at the South Point Bowling Plaza as Bower joined him in the event’s 50-Year Club. Less than 24 hours later, Bower was among the first to congratulate Stoudt as he became the latest member of the tournament’s elite 100,000-Pin Club.
Stoudt, also a 1968 Regular Team champion, entered this year’s event needing 1,079 pins to become the 20th bowler in 114 years of Open Championships competition to topple 100,000 pins.
The 85-year-old right-hander rolled sets of 450 in team and 482 in doubles, before opening singles with a 139 game. That left him needing just eight more pins to eclipse the mark, which he did by converting the 2-4-5 combination in the first frame of his second game of singles.
“It has been a long time coming, but something I never thought about until I hit my 50th year and was over 90,000 pins,” said Stoudt, who made his 58th Open Championships appearance this year. “That’s when you start thinking about how long it is going to take to get to 100,000 pins. I am very happy about what I shot back in the 60s and 70s, because it made getting here today much easier. When I started to think about it until a few years back, I realized it could be an attainable goal.”
Stoudt’s last big milestone at the Open Championships also came in in Las Vegas, as he celebrated his own 50th appearance at the nearby Cashman Center in 2009, so there’s no doubt the Entertainment Capital of the World will continue to be a special place for him. If all goes as planned, he’ll reach 60 years of participation at the Bowling Plaza in 2019.
Immediately after the 100,000th pin of his career fell, Stoudt was presented with a special crystal pin. He finished his 2017 tournament campaign with a 1,463 all-events total, bringing his career pinfall to 100,384, a 192.3 average.
For Bower, the 2017 Open Championships experience was shared with family, much like his passion for the sport has been.
The 66-year-old right-hander was escorted to the lanes at South Point by two top competitors, his daughters, Brooke and Nicole Bower. Upon reaching the lanes, he was presented with a plaque, chevron and diamond lapel pin to commemorate his milestone.
“It was a great feeling to have my daughters, not only present, but walk me down to the lanes, and that is a memory I will cherish,” Bower said. “Getting to 50 years out here means a lot of stability to keep coming each year. It’s fantastic to be able to come out every year, which can be an effort in itself sometimes.”
Bower’s tournament career started as a teenager at the 1966 event in Rochester, New York. Early on, competing at the Open Championships even required special arrangements with his high school and college teachers.
He immediately showed his talent, posting a 1,836 all-events total in his debut, and he went on to claim a handful of top-20 finishes at the Open Championships over the years, along with a third-place effort at the USBC Masters in 1985. Bower was joined on the 1978 Team All-Events-winning team by his brother, Darryl.
Bower also found a niche on the business side of bowling, and as the president of ABC Lanes, Inc., their team name remains nearly the same as it was when they won Team All-Events titles in 1970 as ABC Lanes-East and 1978 as ABC Lanes-West.
“One of the biggest motivators for me was getting to bowl with Marvin “Bud” Stoudt, especially when I saw how well he did and the attention that he got,” Bower said. “He has always been ahead of me in everything, from participation years, to pinfall, and even Team USA, which he made in 1975. I was fortunate to have made the team and represent the United States in the Philippines (1979), and I am very proud of that.”
While the time in Las Vegas this weekend was meaningful for the Bower family, there’s more bowling to be done elsewhere, with more tournaments coming up during the next two weeks.
“We really have no real plans while we are in Las Vegas,” Bower said. “In fact, we are leaving right after this event is over, as my daughters are heading to Baton Rouge to bowl in the USBC Women’s Championships and then staying to bowl in the USBC Queens as well.”
This year the USBC Hall of Famer, rolled sets of 559 in doubles, 540 in singles and 489 in team for a 1,598 all-events total. In 50 tournaments, he has knocked down 87,595 pins for a career average of 197.2.
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