Firestone Tournament Of Champions
$100,000 FIRESTONE TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
Riviera Lanes, Akron, Ohio, Mar 31-Apr 4, 1970
Near-Perfect Win For Don Johnson
It will go down in the record books as one of the most exciting moments ever to take place in a sports event. To be sure, the many millions of "witnesses" who watched the drama unfold on television will never forget that twelfth and final shot tossed by Don Johnson in the 1970 Firestone Tournament of Champions, the sixth edition of the $100,000 tournament.
This was "Kokomo's" event almost from the beginning and the 47 other champions in the field seemingly knew it. After 48 games, Don held a lead of 161 pins on second-placer Mike Durbin, even though Johnson's 16-7-1 record in match play was a notch under the 19-4-1 performance turned in by the Dayton, Ohio, righthander. The way Don did it was by spilling more than 300 pins than anyone else in the star-studded lineup.
When the cast had been determined for the finals, behind Don and Mike came Dick Ritger, Hartford, Wisc., Barry Asher of Costa Mesa, Calif., and Jim Stefanich, Joliet, Ill. All were battle-hardened veterans and all were to be participants in the thrilling climax to this most important of all professional bowling competitions.
When the televised action got under way, the foes were Stefanich and Asher and Steffie gave a portent of things to come when he won, 269-217. The high-scoring mood was maintained in the next battle when Ritger dumped Jim, 263-215. Then, it was Ritger over Durbin by 237-211. Johnson stepped up on the approach for the $25,000 showdown, the same Johnson who earlier in the event had tossed a 300 to Ritger's 249.
Six frames later, all that went up on the scoreboard were strikes-six for Ritger, six for Don. In the seventh, Dick left a four-pin, but Don kept going . . . and going . . . and going. Right up until the 12th and final shot. The title was cinched, but waiting for Johnson was a $10,000 bonus and a new automobile if he could register a perfect game.
A hush came over the huge crowd at Riviera Lanes as he stepped on the approach. The delivery . . . the impact . . . a perfect hit . . . and a ten pin that refused to fall. Don had his title, a 299 game, and the first man to help the prostrate Don to his feet was runnerup Ritger, who received $12,500. It was a memorable ending to a memorable tournament.
PLAYOFF RESULTS-Stefanich defeated Asher, 269-217; Ritger defeated Stefanich, 263-215; Ritger defeated Durbin, 237-211; and in the championship game Johnson defeated Ritger, 299-268. 48-GAME TOTALS 24-GAME TOTALS *Alternates. **Don Johnson received $100 for 300 game. 24-Game Qualifying Leader-Don Johnson, 5557. 24th Low-Sam Baca, 5132. PRO-AM CASHERS ($100)-Mike Limongello. ($50)-Dave Davis, Johnny Guenther, Barry Asher, Butch Gearhart.
*Alternates. **Don Johnson received $100 for 300 game. 24-Game Qualifying Leader-Don Johnson, 5557. 24th Low-Sam Baca, 5132. PRO-AM CASHERS ($100)-Mike Limongello. ($50)-Dave Davis, Johnny Guenther, Barry Asher, Butch Gearhart.