HEATH – Bill Arnold first picked up a bowling ball when he was just 4 years old.
That was back in 1950, and everything has obviously changed since then, from the balls and equipment, to lane conditions. One thing, however, has remained consistent. Seventy years later, the Heath man remains on top of his game, and has been selected for the Ohio Bowling Hall of Fame.
“I wasn’t good at anything else,” jokes Arnold, an Army veteran in Korea who still carries above a 210 average in a pair of senior leagues at Park Lanes, best in each league. “I wasn’t athletically inclined, and had no real strength or athletic ability,” Arnold said. “But from ages 6-12, my grandfather took me to the alley every Friday night, where he bowled in a Masonic league.”
When Arnold enters the Hall of Fame on Jan. 23 in Columbus, in the Super Performance (Amateur) category, he will become just the fourth person from the Newark area to be inducted. He joins Joe Drasco Sr. in 2002 (Pioneer category), Greg Russell, manager of Park Lanes in 2008, in the Meritorious Service category, and Bob Jones in the Superior Performance (Amateur) category in 2005.
Arnold was nominated by Russell and Jones for the honor.
He is renowned in local bowling circles. His average was as high as 225 in his younger years. Arnold has 20 300 games and five 800 series to his credit, along with hundreds of 700s. He was inducted into the Newark Bowling Hall of Fame in 2000. Arnold has competed on the PBA Senior Tour, once wrote a bowling column for The Advocate and even has a kitchen table made out of wood from an old bowling lane.
Arnold became so good at a young age, that he started bowling in adult leagues when he was 13. “I grew up in Toledo, and back then, bowling was a letter sport,” he said. “I skipped the high school competition.”
His high average of 821 came in 1969, when he was stationed in Korea. “The ball and conditions were different back then,” Arnold said. “Today, the averages are 30 or 40 pins higher.”