DOWNEY, Calif. — Every bowler’s goal is to string together 12 strikes in a row to shoot a perfect 300 game. However, many times a bowler will miss, and sometimes leave ugly splits. On Monday, August 23, two bowlers opposing each other completed two of bowling’s most heralded accomplishments on the same pair of lanes during the same game at Del Rio Lanes in Downey, Calif.
Before bowling league on this Monday night, two very hectic days would turn into a night on lanes 23 and 24 that Jonathan Garza and Adam Thomson would never forget, as the former converted the 7-10 split for the first time, while the latter would respond with a perfect 300 game, his second ever.
“I wore a Princeton University hat and t-shirt today to represent my little sister, Venezia, whom my family dropped off in New Jersey last week,” Garza said, “we got back Saturday night and I’ve been really sad and missing her very much, and this lifted up my spirits because I’ve always wanted to pick up a 7-10 split my whole life.”
Garza is a 35-year-old bowler from Los Angeles, and bowls in two leagues (also bowling MLB at Keystone Lanes) with his brother Justin. He battled a migraine with aura the morning of the match, but thanked new medication for allowing him to bounce back and prebowl for the week before ahead of his weekly matchup against Thomson, Lee Gagyi (who was absent) and Danny Soler.
“Migraine with aura usually hampers my vision to where I’m nearly blind, and handicaps me for up to six hours at times,” Garza said, “my doctor prescribed new medication for me though, and the episode lasted just 30 minutes, and I felt like normal.”
That, a story about a piece of tape and a higher power are what Garza attributes the accomplishment to on this night.
“The night before I had messed up my bowling thumb because I didn’t protect it with tape, and I had to remove two-to-four pieces of tape from each ball,” Garza said, “I was throwing a nice game, and slammed the pocket on lane 24 with my Radical Squatch in the 8th frame when those two brutal pins were left standing: 7 and 10. I reacted, yelling back at my brother, ‘I didn’t deserve that!'”
Garza went for his Storm Football acrylic spare ball and realized his thumb felt really tight, but enough to take out just one piece of tape. Upon removal of the tape, two pieces went flying under the seat. He proceeded to line up on the 35 board and aim down the fourth arrow to convert a 10-pin conversion and take the point. The ball rolled down the lane and smashed that 10 pin beautifully, but it hopped back onto the pin deck and rolled viciously and swept the 7 pin for the conversion!
“My first reaction was to look for Justin, but I screamed with glee like a 9-year-old kid who hit his first strike of his life,” Garza said. Justin was paying his league fees and did not see the conversion, but he sure heard it.
Garza felt like the conversion was helped by some guidance from the heavens. It was the heavenly birthday of the late Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, who famously wore numbers 8 and 24 during his 20 seasons in the NBA.
He would go on to shoot 234 for the game. His book average is 185. Garza would like to thank Memo Rosales for giving him the opportunity to get the rare Storm Football and drilling it for him, and all the great things he does out of Team Apex Bowling Pro Shop at Chaparral Lanes. In addition, Justin, for always pushing him to be better and standing by his side. Lastly, he’s grateful for the support of his friends in the Jackpot Trios league and many others throughout his bowling family in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.
Meanwhile, Thomson at the moment was on the front 7, smashing the rack each time. He collected number eight and then nine, and then it was nervous time for the 23-year-old from Downey.
But before all of that happened, it was Thomson’s first day back on the campus of California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), where in between classes, spanning an hour and a half, he decided to go out for a six-mile walk around the school to pass the time by.
Little did he know that the extra exercise would help him to finish off what he had started a night ago.
The night before in the MLB league, Thomson had the front 8 before leaving, of all things, a pocket 7-10 split. “I was there yesterday, Thomson said, I told myself, ‘Let’s do it this time.'”
Ball number 10, flush in the pocket on lane 23, and that’s where the nerves started to kick in.
“I was so nervous for that 11th shot and really came down hard on myself,” Thomson said, “but I knew that if I got another strike, I’d get the 12th ball.”
Thomson threw his Storm Phaze II a little fast, but it held and carried, and all 10 pins fell, setting him up for a date with bowling perfection once more.
“I knew I had the 12th strike the second it came off my hand,” Thomson said, and he did. All 10 pins fell to the floor, and Thomson had been perfect for the second time in his 10 years of bowling as other league bowlers showered him with hugs and high five slaps.
Watching with glee was Garza, an alumnus of CSULB, who confirmed that the special moment was indeed helped by Kobe.
“I’ve written and analyzed many things in sports, and one thing we talked about with the Lakers and Dodgers in 2020 was how things would add up to 8 or 24 for Kobe Bryant,” Garza said, “and tonight, I picked up a 7-10 split in the 8th frame on lane 24, while Adam shoots 300 on August 23, Kobe’s birthday, on lane 23. The Mamba was here, and we both showed our Mamba Mentality.”
Thomson’s first 300 came in March, 2019 with his Storm Lock. This one was different for him though. He was very grateful to Jonathan Gale for selling him the Phaze II that would seal the deal.
“The ball is still laid out for Jonathan (Gale),” Thomson said, “he sold it to me for $20 and I have only changed up the thumb. It’s a great ball!”
Thomson owes a lot of thanks to Vince Duarte for being a great friend and helping him to grow and be a better bowler. While there are many others he wanted to thank, he said that the biggest thanks were owed to Duarte, Gale and Dave Bartlett.
A 211 book average, Thomson flirted with an 800 series in the third game after shooting 247 in game two. Needing 253 to complete another milestone, he left a 4-6 split in the fourth frame to extinguish that journey. However, he would roll on to a new series high of 757, squashing his old personal best by 10 pins.
“It got to me a little bit in the 4th frame when I left the 4-6,” Thomson said, “After the first three frames I knew I had a chance at 800 and knew I needed to go sheet for a 280. However, I am ecstatic for my new high; I have time to shoot my 800.”
Time will tell for sure. But as of writing of this story, we have yet to confirm with any of our bowling historians whether or not a 7-10 split conversion and perfect 300 game have ever been converted in the same game on the same pair of lanes. We may have history here. If you can tell a story about how it happened, please submit it to email@example.com.