Gruber achieves bowling perfectionWORTHINGTON — Greg Gruber was beginning to draw a crowd.
By: Matt Huss, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Greg Gruber was beginning to draw a crowd.
What started as a normal Monday night at Oxford Bowl suddenly turned into a showcase event, and the three-person league Gruber was participating in quickly became a spectator sport.
Nearly everybody at the bowling alley on Oct. 6 gathered behind Gruber’s lane in anticipation. The Fulda resident had recorded nine flawless frames, and he was just three strikes away from accomplishing a lifetime goal.
Three bending rolls later, Gruber achieved perfection.
“Everybody in the lanes was in the back watching, and, after I got it, everyone was high-fiving or fist-bumping,” Gruber said. “I never looked back. After the first roll on the 10th (frame), I put my head down and came back and tried to stay focused. I did the same thing after the second shot. And the second shot was actually harder than the last one because after I hit the second one I knew I had a whale of a game — either a 290 or a 300.”
Gruber, of course, finished with a 300 — an achievement he’s been chasing for 36 years.
He was introduced to bowling while a student in New Ulm. For a physical education class, Gruber and his classmates were bused to the local bowling alley. Soon thereafter, Gruber and some friends started hanging out at the alley.
“It just took off from there,” Gruber said. “Before they had automatic scorers, me and a couple of other guys would go down and keep score for the guys’ leagues in the evening. They’d tip us, and that’s how we got our bowling money.”
Since then, Gruber has come painfully close to reaching perfection on multiple occasions. This time, he didn’t let the pressure get to him.
“I’ve come close many times, but I could never get the job done,” he said. “I’ve probably had three 290s and had the first nine or 10 (strikes), but I never went all the way.
“For me, it had always been after you hit the first five, you start thinking about a perfect game — that’s what makes it hard. You start thinking about it from the fifth frame on, and, by the time you get to the 10th, your knees are wobbling a little bit.”
Those watching Gruber’s pursuit of perfection also were thinking about it. But, as per an unwritten rule, nobody mentioned it.
“You don’t really talk about it; I mean, everyone knows what’s going on, but no one really says anything about it,” Gruber said. “You just kind of create small talk. I don’t think that’s unusual; I think that’s common for anybody when someone starts stringing a few strikes together.”
Gruber rolled nine consecutive strikes, putting himself in a fairly familiar situation entering the final frame.
“I’ve blown it so many times before, so I actually tried to just bare down,” he said. “I told myself, ‘You’re not going to blow it this time.’”
Three strikes later, Gruber became the first person to roll a perfect game this year at Oxford Bowl.
“The first and fourth frames, I remember, were pretty light hits,” Gruber laughed. “I remember one of the guys gave me a bad time about the very first strike, and, when it was all over, I went back to him and said, ‘You remember what that first strike looked like?’ It was one of those lucky ones, that first one.
“I’ve been bowling for 36 years before this, and I flirted with (a perfect game) for probably 26 of those years, so this was quite a thrill.”