LAS VEGAS – Jamie Brooks of McKinney, Texas, was recognized this week for reaching a special milestone at the 2019 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships, and he’ll likely take center stage again next year when he joins another of the tournament’s elite clubs.
With his march to the lanes at the South Point Bowling Plaza on Wednesday, Brooks became the second bowler this year, and 27th in tournament history, to reach 60 years of participation on the championship lanes.
His nine-game performance now has him on the verge of adding his name to the short list of bowlers who have toppled 100,000 pins at the USBC Open Championships.
The 84-year-old right-hander received a chevron, plaque and engraved money clip to commemorate his entrance into the 60-Year Club, and he’s now 381 pins away from claiming the coveted crystal pin awarded to members of the 100,000-Pin Club.
Brooks entered the 2019 event needing 1,860 pins to reach the plateau and rolled consistent sets of 498 in doubles, 493 in singles and 488 in team for a 1,479 all-events total. His career pinfall stands at 99,619.
Only 23 bowlers in 116 years of Open Championships competition have surpassed the 100,000-pin mark. Eight-time Open Championships titlist and USBC Hall of Famer Bill Lillard Sr. of Houston tops the all-time pinfall list with 124,087.
“The record of participation is 71 years, and I’d like to make it as long as I can and keep bowling for as long as I can,” Brooks said. “My wife came with me and will come along for the rest that I come to, but it’s neat to still be alive and still be able to come and bowl. This year was very special, and I’m looking forward to next year in Reno (Nevada).”
Brooks made his tournament debut at the 1957 event in Fort Worth, Texas, also the debut of automatic pinsetters on the biggest stage in bowling.
During that time, he and his “bowling family” were stopping at tournaments all over the state of Texas, and they then began venturing out of the state.
Brooks first made his way into the Open Championships spotlight in Syracuse, New York, in 1973, when he and Jim Paine claimed the Regular Doubles title with a 1,337 total. There also were a few other times he came close to additional victories at the Open Championships.
“In Madison, Wisconsin, in 1969, we got really close to winning the team event, but I left a split in the 10th frame, and then my teammate after me did the same thing,” said Brooks, who has maintained an average of 185.5 for his 60 years at the Open Championships. “We ended up in eighth place. There also was a time in Knoxville (1970) we finished ninth. So, after some close calls, getting the one win was pretty nice.”
While Brooks has become well-known in bowling, it wasn’t always his sport of choice.
In high school, he was a golfer, but during some inclement weather one day, a friend asked him to make up for the lost time and join the bowling league he ran. At the time, Brooks didn’t know bowling would become a huge part of his life.
He went on to a summer league, and when fall came around, he was off to college at the University of Colorado. Building on his new-found skillset, he also joined a winter league and continued bowling once he returned home to Texas. After a few years, he started getting good at it.
At age 20, he relinquished the college dream and decided to peruse bowling full time. Then, in 1955, Brooks and his father built their first bowling center.
Becoming a proprietor allowed Brooks to find success on and off the lanes, and his endless dedication to the sport has earned him countless accolades and awards.
When he hasn’t been bowling, he has been busy running bowling centers. Since he was 21 years old, he has owned a total of 44 bowling centers and still operates three of them, including the well-known Plano Super Bowl in Plano, Texas, which has been a regular stop of the Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour in recent years.
Brooks was recognized in 2010 by USBC as Proprietor of the Year for his longtime support of various programs, such as hosting charity events for Bowl for the Cure and developing the Senior All-Star Bowling Association
“I’m basically a league bowler, who bowls tournaments, and I’m just proud to be involved in the sport every way I can,” said Brooks, whose best all-events performance at the Open Championships was a 1,847 total at the 1992 tournament in Corpus Christi, Texas. “We had the same team that would go around and bowl different things, and we were just winning stuff all over where we were going, so it was real neat. Now, I’m the only one still alive from that original team, and I still love competing.”
James Bigelbach of St. Paul, Minnesota, was the first bowler this year to celebrate 60 years of Open Championships participation, and USBC Hall of Famer Bud Stoudt of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, will add his name to the list before the 2019 tournament concludes on July 8.
Mike Schmid of Arden Hills, Minnesota, made his 58th tournament appearance and became the newest member of the 100,000-Pin Club.