Tim Starrine waited eight years almost to the day to bowl his fifth perfect 300 game. If he'd have waited another week, he wouldn't have made history at Red Rock Lanes in Ishpeming.
As it was, the 34-year-old Ishpeming resident bowled the first sanctioned 300 game at the newly rechristened center after its name was changed from Country Lanes on Jan. 1. That happened when longtime general manager Clay Sandberg and his wife Donna took over ownership.
The Red Rock 12-striker came on March 21 in the Friday Nite Mixed League as part of a 758 series. Starrine's last one before that, according to my records, came on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 2006, in the same building and in the same league, although both have changed names in that time.
Previously it was the Friday Coed League, and, of course, was at Country Lanes.
Negaunee resident Scott Salminen followed Starrine with a 300 just four days later in the Tuesday Major League, rolling his perfect game while he just missed another U.S. Bowling Congress honor score with a 797 series.
Starrine, who works part-time at Red Rock, got his 300 using a 15-pound Storm Shock Trauma reactive resin ball in the second game after opening with 269 and finishing with 189. His only disappointment was that he didn't roll his first 800 series.
"Three hundred isn't my goal, it's to get an 800," he said. "I felt good until one lane started to break down in the third game."
The "break down" wasn't mechanical but a changing of the oil conditioner, generally when it gets picked up and moved or removed by balls as they travel down the lane.
In almost all cases, this will make the ball hook more, leaving what previously was a perfect shot high on head pin or even a crossover "Brooklyn" in severe cases.
The Professional Bowlers Association has experimented this season with using a blue dye in its conditioner to illustrate this. But for us average Joes, you can't tell until a good shot goes awry.
Despite needing "only" 231 the final game to get to his coveted 800, Starrine left several splits on one lane, all but dooming that possibility.
"Yeah, you can say I still have some unfinished business," he said, admitting that getting back on the 300 wagon is a good start toward 800.
Salminen, 36, was even closer to 800, opening with 300 and following it with 278 and 219. He needed just a spare in the 10th frame of the third game for '8,' but left the near-impossible 2-8-10 split on a light hit.
It was his third split of the night - the first two were tough 3-6-7-10 combinations he also didn't convert - as he moved about 12 or 13 boards left on the approach after the first game to "chase" the changing oil pattern.
This was all with his new 15-pound DV8 Reckless resin ball he bought at a closeout price less than a month ago. Since then, he's rolled 300, a pair of 299s, a 290, 279 and 278 in his two or three weekly leagues, depending on if he's called to substitute.
My advice - call him.
"It's a real heavy rolling ball, and it sets up real nice," Salminen said about the Reckless. "The only thing is that once (the lanes) start to dry out, it's too much."
His preferred adjustment is changing his target line or switching to a different ball, rather than try to throw faster or slower, or change the position of his hand at release.
"I'm kind of an 'all power' bowler," he said. "Somebody like Justin (Stephens), he'll completely change his release depending on what he needs the ball to do."
Stephens has been the most prolific big-score shooter in the area over the past decade, including posting the highest three-game series ever in the area, 862, last April at Country Lanes.
Salminen is no slouch, however. In fact, it's pretty extraordinary to watch this righthander when the lanes really hook.
Despite throwing the ball harder than about 98 percent of the bowlers in this area, he'll take drastic measures to keep the ball in play - and still get strikes - because of all the "revs" he gets.
I've seen him throw the ball in the air over the left gutter, have it roll over the sixth arrow - that's the second arrow in from the left gutter - and travel all the way across to within a few inches of the right gutter before it makes a late sharp turn back to the strike pocket.
It's something to see.
Now onto The Mining Journal Bowlers of the Week for March 14-20:
J.R. Kovarik won the men's race by shooting 166 pins over his 146 average with a 604 series on games of 183, 216 and 205 in the Friday Nite Mixed at Red Rock.
Next came Joe Hanson of the Friday 800 Mixed at Superior Lanes at plus-146 past his 175 average with 671 and a 235 top game, then Dave Niemela of the Tuesday Major at Red Rock at 141 over his 154 average with 603 and 254 best.
Karen Foster took women's honors at 126 pins over her 146 average with 564 on games of 210, 205 and 149 in the Friday Nite Mixed.
She was followed by Theresa Argall in the Wednesday SIR Credit Union at Red Rock at 115 over her 141 average with 538 and a 194 best, then Kelly Carlson of the Tuesday T&T Ladies at Red Rock at 99 over her 99 average with 396 and 177 top game.