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.


Pos.Name, City/StateTotalAmount
1Don Johnson, Akron, Ohio299 (1 game)$25,000
2Dick Ritger, Hartford, Wisc.768 (3 games)12,500
3Mike Durbin, Dayton, Ohio211 (1 game)6,500
4Jim Stefanich, Joliet, Ill.484 (2 games)3,500
5Barry Asher, Costa Mesa, Cal.217 (1 game)2,500

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.


 Name, City/StatePins  WLT+TotAmt
**1Don Johnson, Akron, O. 11154 16-7-1 825 11979 
2Mike Durbin, Dayton, O. 10843 19-4-1 975 11818 
3Dick Ritger, Hartford, Wisc. 10687 15-8-1 775 11462 
4Barry Asher, Costa Mesa, Cal. 10789 12-12-0 600 11389 
5Jim Stefanich, Joliet, Ill. 10608 13-9-2 700 11308 
*6Carmen Salvino, Chicago, Ill. 10608 13-11-0 650 11258 $2,050
7Dick Weber, St. Louis, Mo. 10500 15-9-0 750 11250 1,700
8Ralph Engan, Monsey, N.Y. 10559 13-10-1 675 11234 1,600
9Dave Davis, Miami, Fla. 10461 14-9-1 725 11186 1,500
10Vern Downing, San Francisco, Cal. 10585 12-12-0 600 11185 1,450
11Nelson Burton Jr., St. Louis, Mo. 10532 13-11-0 650 11182 1,400
12Earl Johnson, Tacoma, Wash. 10560 10-14-0 500 11060 1,375
13Skee Foremsky, Houston, Tex. 10459 12-12-0 600 11059 1,350
14Mike Limongello, N. Babylon, N.Y. 10452 11-12-1 575 11027 1,325
15Teata Semiz, River Edge, N.J. 10436 11-13-0 550 10986 1,300
16Jim Godman, Elkhart, Ind. 10399 11-12-1 575 10974 1,275
17Sam Baca, Akron, 0. 10354 11-13-0 550 10904 1,250
18Les Zikes, Palatine, Ill. 10328 11-13-0 550 10878 1,225
19Joe Dignam, Seattle, Wash. 10459 7-16-1 375 10834 1,200
20George Pappas, Charlotte, N.C. 10373 8-16-0 400 10773 1,175
21Tommy Tuttle, King, N.C. 10268 10-14-0 500 10768 1,150
22Allie Clarke, Akron, 0. 10200 9-15-0 450 10650 1,125
23Billy Hardwick, Louisville, Ky. 10044 8-16-0 400 10444 1,100
24Terry Booth, Mountain View, Cal. 9803 9-15-0 450 10253 1,075


Pos.Name, City/StateTotalAmount
25Bob Strampe, Detroit, Mich.5128$1,000
26Ray Bluth, St. Louis, Mo.51231,000
*27Dave Soutar, Gilroy, Cal.51211,075
28Johnny Guenther, Seattle, Wash.51141,000
29Wayne Zahn, Tempe, Ariz.51121,000
30Harry Smith, Fresno, Cal.51061,000
31Pete Tountas, Calumet City, Ill.50971,000
32Jim St. John, San Jose, Cal.50931,000
33Bill Tucker, St. Louis, Mo.50251,000
34Glenn Allison, Los Angeles, Cal.50191,000
35Don Glover, Bakersfield, Cal.49971,000
36Mike McGrath, El Cerrito, Cal.49761,000
37Ed Bourdase, Fresno, Cal.49641,000
38Tim Harahan, Canoga Park, Cal.49131,000
39Fred Lening, Yardley, Pa.48871,000
40Lou Scalia, Hollywood, Fla.48651,000
41Butch Gearhart, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.48221,000
42Don Helling, St. Louis, Mo.47961,000
43Bill Allen, Orlando, Fla.47921,000
44Marty Piraino, Syracuse, N.Y.47791,000
45Buzz Fazio, Delton, Mich.47631,000
46Don McCune, Munster, Ind.47521,000
47Jim Chestney, Denver, Colo.43751,000
48Billy Welu, St. Louis, Mo., (16 Games)32821,000

*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.