JASON THOMAS: Top 10 TV 300 Games in PBA History

by JThomas  |  Wednesday, September 01, 9:38 AM

This Labor Day weekend ESPN Classic is running a PBA 300 Game Marathon (Sunday, September 5, to be exact...click here for the complete schedule listing).

Of the eight shows they picked, there are definitely some good ones, but I thought I'd get you bowling fans warmed up with a list of my top 10 favorite treys in PBA history. Here goes:

After missing the last show of the season and needing a little help from Mike Scroggins (and a stone 8-pin by Chris Barnes) to win Player of the Year, Big Wes had the opportunity to prove he was worthy of the lofty award. The King of Bowling made-for-TV event was his stage and Malott bowled like a king.

Tossing not one, but TWO 300 games in his five-week run, The Big Nasty averaged a cool 272.6 in demolishing five of the top 10 players in the world by an average of more than 50 pins a game. So which one of the two perfectos makes the list? I'm partial to the second because it ended the series with an exclamation point, but I also kind of liked the post finale roar Wes gave out after the first. You decide after watching below.

Journeyman pro Jack Biondolillo immortalized himself in the annals of PBA history by tossing the league's first televised 300 game.

Oh, and did we mention that it was on ABC-TV in front of more than 10 million viewers during the most prestigious tournament of the year? Not a bad way to do it, Jack. Plus the $10K bonus was pretty decent coin back in the day.

Rhino Page was looking to buy his first home after his second successful season on tour, and fretted to best buddy Patrick Allen that he just wished he had $100K to make a nice down payment. A few weeks later Rhino made the TV finals of the Japan Cup, where he tossed the event's first televised 300 to earn a nice bonus of...you guessed it, $100K.

Check out the 10th frame below with the original Japanese commentary. You can also hear Mike J. Laneside and The Bowling Doctor call this one on Xtra Frame in the PBA Telecasts Archive.

In an arena setting that was attended by a couple thousand (plus each of the new PBA owners), Norm Duke put on a striking clinic against Walter Ray Williams, Jr.

The diminutive Duke fired 12 straight shots right up the gutter and jumped straight up in the air when the pins flew straight back on the final shot. His exuberant jump into the arms of Walter Ray (who, frankly, was a pretty good sport considering he must be getting a little tired of seeing all these 300 games shot against him on TV) was what made this one truly memorable.

After several years competing as a very solid tour player, Tony Reyes was still in search of his first PBA win. One of the most popular players among the guys on tour, everyone was rooting for Tony to get that first title. When he finally did, he did it in style, tossing a 300 game in the semifinals against Parker Bohn III to set up his first (and only) career victory.

This 300 game by the classy Hall-of-Fame lefty is still tied for the highest-scoring TV match in PBA history. Needing perfection to hold off the hard-charging David Ozio (who shot 279 with a nasty blower-7 pin in the 8th as his only miss), Aulby flushed three in the tenth for the title and a $10,000 bonus. Plus, extra manly points for shooting it in that pink shirt!

Competing in a three-man match where only the winner would advance, Parker Bohn III took on two fellow lefties for the right to face Mike Aulby for the title. What better way to do that then by shooting 300 for a $10,000 bonus? Of course, Aulby wouldn't let Parker win his first major that week, taking advantage of a letdown by the now 32-time champ to get the win. Parker would have to wait until the 2001 Masters to get that first (and so far, only) major title.

I have to admit that this one here may be my personal favorite. I actually attended this tournament all week long as a wide-eyed 13-year-old kid and then watched the show on Saturday afternoon during my junior league. There was a huge build-up of pressure because it had been so long since the last TV 300 (13 years since Jim Stefanich's 300 in 1974) and there was now a huge $100,000 bonus from True Value hardware. The images of McCordic shaking like a leaf on the 11th and 12th shots was a perfect complement to the excellent call by Chris Schenkel and Bo Burton.

Maybe the best PBA telecast of all time. 5,000-plus crazed fans. An arena setting. Hometown favorite and all-time 300-game king Bob Learn Jr. putting on one of the greatest displays of striking ever. Plus all of his opponents pushing him to the limit by averaging in excess of 260.

The show started off with a bang with Learn facing 49 year-old legend Johnny Petraglia. Needing the first strike in the 10th to win the match (Petraglia finished with 279), Learn got that and more, rolling his 52nd career 300 (at the time, the most ever) but, as Chris Schenkel exclaimed, "this one is by far the most valuable." $100,000 worth, thanks again, to True Value.

Side note: Check out the college preppy sweater Ron Palombi Jr. was rocking whilst sitting next to Learn's wife. SWEEEEET!

And our number one favorite 300 televised game of all time comes courtesy of the man who suffered the loss in our previous entry. After disappearing from the PBA limelight for almost a decade, all-time great and Triple Crown winner Johnny Petraglia returned to TV to make the finals in the 1994 PBA National Championship.

A sentimental crowd favorite, Petraglia bowled against reigning PBA Player of the Year Walter Ray Williams Jr. in the day's second match. Rolling strike after strike, Petraglia, who famously gaffed on the 12th shot of a possible 300 back in 1978, had a chance for redemption (and a $100,000 bonus) when he stepped up for the 12th shot here.

After delivering the coup-de-grace, Petraglia's emotional outburst and post-match interview expressing relief that his kid's college was now "taken care of" was as emotional as it gets. All hail Johnny P! The king of all TV 300 shooters!

As usual, there are a number of 300 games that were indeed memorable, but missed out on my list. Definitely Jim Stefanich, Johnny Guenther and Bob Benoit stick out right at the top of my list of honorable mentions. What other 300 games do you remember? Your comments are welcome below.