Bowler Lawrence Pettit, 39, began to worry about his asthma in the eighth frame as he neared the perfect 300 game.
“Around eight my nerves start acting up,” he said. “I have asthma, and I always run out to the car and get my inhaler, just in case it does happen.”
By the 10th and final frame, as the crowd gathered as word traveled around the bowling alley of his feat, Pettit, of Frederick, tried to just focus on the pins.
“You try not to pay attention to them,” he said. “Your knees are pretty much shaking. Lately, I’ve been telling myself, ‘I’ve been there before. Don’t pay attention to it,’” said Pettit. He did it. And then the following week, he struck perfection again.
He achieved the ultimate score for bowlers not just once, but consecutive Mondays in April during his league play at Frederick’s Terrace Lanes.
“I just go up there and throw it,” he said. “If I think too much about it, I’m going to screw it up. I just get up there and try not to think about it. I just try to have good luck.”
Pettit’s pair of perfect games came April 22 and 29, said Jessica Thomas, event coordinator at the bowling alley.
The alley gives $100 prizes to bowlers for achieving a perfect game in league play, according to the website. She said about 22 people have received the prizes this year, but that it was a small percentage of the more than 1,000 people who bowl at the alley.
“It’s still pretty rare, especially to do it twice in a season, [never mind] twice in two weeks,” she said. “I’ve never seen that before. I don’t know if it’s never happened here, but it’s nothing I’ve seen.”
Pettit said he had previously rolled a perfect game in 1997 and rolled a set of 825 earlier this year, a score he was very proud of. In league play, bowlers roll three games, adding their combined scores to form a set score. For his set of 825, Pettit said he rolled games of 289, 267 and 269, his highest set ever.
For the feat, he was awarded a special ring from the United States Bowling Congress, he said. The rings are given out for sets of 800 or more, sets of 900 and perfect games, according to the organization’s website. The basic rings are given free for the first accomplishment of the season, though upgrades can be paid for by the bowler.
He said he’s been bowling most of his life, though this year has been an anomaly. His normal average is about 206, but it’s been about 229 this year, he said.
“I grew up in the bowling alley pretty much,” he said, adding that his father was a regular bowler. “I’ve been bowling since I was a kid.”
He said he has rolled high-scoring games before, but he never pays attention until his eighth-consecutive strike.
“I’ve always gotten like seven in a row, and then I’d screw it up. A friend of mine would always say that I suck,” Pettit said with a laugh.