By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
With 11 strikes already in his pocket, Karl Bruckmeier had bad thoughts as soon as he threw his 12th ball.
However, the last ball carried and completed his 300 game in the Tuesday Night Elks League at Fourth Street Bowl.
“I threw 11 right in the pocket, no problem,” said Bruckmeier, a Joplin resident. “Then the 12th ball, I kind of threw it right through the nose. They split like the sea. Somebody was with me.
“I thought ‘oh no’ as soon as I released it. Actually when I say somebody was with me, last August I passed (out) on the golf course, hole No. 7 at Schifferdecker. My heart just stopped. I had some buddies with me. They performed CPR until the ambulance came and I was saved.
“I’ve had a pacemaker since 2009. For some reason my heart just quit. I hadn’t had any problem or anything like that, it just quit. I don’t know.”
The perfect game was the sixth for Bruckmeier, who carries a 208 average in the league. A right-hander, Bruckmeier followed with games of 211-204 for a 715 series, his best this season.
“I threw a few strikes in warmup and didn’t think anything about it,” he said. “When I started releasing the ball, it was going where I wanted it to on the first game. I was throwing the ball good in the second game but started getting robbed. I was leaving the 10-pin all the time.”
While researching for another story, I ran across an article about perhaps the most improbable perfect game in Joplin bowling history.
On March 21, 1938, Harry Swift, a first-year bowler carrying a 145 average for the Eagle-Picher Mining and Smelting team, fired a 300 at the Royal Recreation.
According to the Joplin Globe, “Bernard Lundy kept score for Swift, who was cooler by far than the scorekeeper at the finish.
“Although Swift was steady at the finish,” the article continued, “royal attendants said he was so weak he could hardly walk out the door.”
Porter Wittich, the Joplin Globe sports editor at the time, called Swift “a modest sort who bowled for the fun of it” in his Globe Trotter column that day.
Swift’s 300 was the fourth ever bowled in Joplin, according to the article. The previous three were by Herman Lucks, Vern Cresap “and a Kansas City bowler who dropped in one afternoon and whose name has been forgotten.”