When that fickle Lady Luck is on your side, it seems she is stuck like glue; but when she's not, she's not.
And Oct. 30, Ms. Luck was certainly on Chris Aker's side when he bowled a 900 series using the Hammer Big Rig Diesel
“I've always preferred Hammer balls, way back to the Blue Hammer urethane days, because they have always given me a consistent reaction,” he said.
On this particular night, Aker was bowling with his wife Ellen, Humboldt County Sheriff Ed Kilgore and Kilgore's wife Season, at Friday Mixers at Spare Time Bowl in the Humboldt County seat of Winnemucca, Nev., population 7,174, where he also owns Aker's Pro Shop.
“I opened a bowling pro shop as a hobby/side job back in the summer of 2006. The (Big Rig Diesel) I used during the 900 series was the very first ball I drilled for myself when I opened the shop,” he said.
A 10-year veteran of the Winnemucca Police Department, Aker said he has thrown 10 sanctioned 300 games (including the triple from October) and about eight additional non-sanctioned perfect games.
“After I shot the first 300 that night, I thought that it was cool, but I really wanted to throw another, since I had never had two 300 games in the same 3-game series,” he said. “Once I got the second game completed, and started the third, I just wanted to throw a few strikes to assure that I wouldn't choke and not even shoot 800 for the evening.”
It wasn't until he was about halfway into the final game that the thought of a 900 series occurred to him, he said.
“I told [Kilgore] that I was really starting to think about 900 and I needed to get away from the lanes between shots. I went into the bar and sat by myself between each shot after that.That really helped me focus on each individual shot,” he said.
But, just like in Las Vegas, which is six hours south of Winnemucca, it wasn't an accomplishment that was easy to come by.
“I had a couple of breaks that allowed me to shoot the 900,”he said. “I threw the 12th ball of the second game and the first ball of game three approximately 3/10's of a mph slow, and tripped a 6-pin on each of those. When I threw the seventh shot of game three, I thought I was going to leave a flat seven pin, but got lucky and it tripped late.”
Still, there were times when he thought the 900 series was a lost cause.
“In the 11th frame of game three, I was really concentrating on keeping my feet slow and I screwed up and was too slow. I tugged that shot so badly, that I immediately thought, 'that's on the beak,' figuring it was going right on the headpin and I had blown it” Aker said.“Luckily, it crossed over and struck despite my poor execution.That really took the pressure off of the final shot. I told myself to speed the last shot up a bit,and I did. It came in a little light, but I knew it was going to carry. The 10 pin fell last, and that was that.”
A perfect series doesn't change what Aker wants out of life and bowling, though.
“My goals now are the same as they were prior to shooting 900,” he said.“I've always felt that I had the ability to do something special in bowling. I still hope to do so, but I have no idea what that might be.I plan to bowl the mega-bucks tourneys in Las Vegas, and eventually try a few stops on the Senior PBA tour, so maybe I'll get lucky and win one of those.”
Aker has been bowling for about 30 years, he said. He was a member of the Washington State Cougars bowling team that placed second at the Collegiate Nationals during his first year. Aker had the highest average of that tournament. He was also named to the All-Tournament team and was an Honorable Mention All American.
It seemed that he was headed to the Professional Bowlers Association tour until he was involved in an accident with a drunk driver in December of 1989.
“The accident injured my left shoulder, which required surgery to repair. I'm a lefty, so obviously this was a huge setback. The rehab didn't go very well, and I missed pretty much my entire junior year,” he said.“When I was able to bowl again during my senior year, my shoulder was still pretty screwed up and I just wasn't able to perform as well as I had prior to the accident.”
Eventually he healed, adapted his style and now focuses his attention on his shop and helping his customers become better bowlers.
“I just hope to continue to help my friends here become better, happier bowlers. Over the years I've had many people help me learn the game of bowling, and now that I (kind of) know what I'm doing, I really enjoy helping other people get better as well,” he said.“It really makes me happy when someone I've helped tells me that they are bowling better as a result of something I've done for them. Whether that was giving a lesson, or drilling them a ball, usually a Hammer, it all makes meglad I have the opportunity to help out.”
And, he said, he would never have achieved any of it without Hammer bowling.
“Shooting 900 was a great achievement for me, but I understand that there was a lot of luck involved. I'm very happy I drilled that Hammer ball three years ago,” he said. “Without Hammer equipment, I would have never shot a 900 series. No way.”
” Hammer is a brand of Ebonite International, Inc. Based in Hopkinsville, Ky., Ebonite International is a privately-owned company that currently services bowling centers, distributors and retail outlets both domestically and internationally. The company's consumer product brands include Ebonite, Hammer, Robby's, Columbia 300, Track and Powerhouse™. Hammer is a proud sponsor of the The National Bowling Association.