Singer Mac Davis once wrote a song called Happiness is Lubbock Texas in Your Rear View Mirror, which is not very polite, but most folks think of the legendary Buddy Holly when Lubbock is mentioned or this year's NCAA Final Four when former PWBA tournament director Rick Ramsey's alma mater Texas Tech almost won the big one.

Historian-Blog-Ad-370x355But, pro bowler Tish Johnson remembers Lubbock as the site of her 22nd title in 1998, when she was thinking of slowing down and maybe even calling it a career. She pulled off a dominating performance to win, which would keep her on tour not only that year, but all the way through when the PWBA stopped operation in the middle of the 2003 season, and she won three more times during those years.

Maybe what I enjoyed the most about revisiting this week's BowlTV Vault release was seeing five of the all-time great women pro bowlers having fun in a television finals. I can't think of any players who truly enjoyed the tour more than Johnson and the other finalists on this show, and the match banter between Tish and Tammy Turner on this show just makes you smile . . . but all five players on this show were known for their great attitudes and having fun in the pro-ams and on TV.

The 1998 Lubbock event was the first tournament held under the new PWBA logo when the Ladies Pro Bowlers Tour was re-branded to become the Professional Women's Bowling Association after the 1997 season. It was also Turner's first event on tour since major lumbar infusion back surgery put her in a body cast for three months and seven more in re-hab after the 1996 season. She had not bowled in 18 months, so no one was happier to be bowling in Lubbock than the powerful player they called the "Taminator."

Turner did not win that day, but she narrowly lost to Johnson, 257-234, with her 14-pound ball, and fans in the building and on TV saw two pros with dynamic personalities enjoying the sport and the competition with each other.

Event leader Carol Gianotti was another player who did not believe in getting too serious when going about her business, so the matches were entertaining and they moved along quickly. Johnson flirted with a $50,000 perfect game bonus twice that day, but settled for games of 257 and 268.

She was using two different balls because one lane was hooking more than the other, and when she accidently threw the wrong one after a string of strikes, she had to laugh and shake her head, but that small mistake may have cost her some very big bonus bucks.

"I couldn't believe I did that," she said, but Johnson never believed in messing around between shots. She likes to just grab the ball and go, which is one of the reasons she is an all-time great. She believes in the old bowling clich‚ that 'if you think long, you may think wrong.'

Johnson was also making a bit of a comeback of her own after not winning for three years, and she talked about working with legendary coach John Jowdy during the offseason and gave him some of the credit for the victory.

"I remember I did not have a good year in 1997, and I was thinking about retiring," Johnson said. "I got in better shape and worked really hard getting ready for the new season, and it paid off. That win kept me going."

It was a blessing for me to watch this show in person in 1998, and it will be time well spent for our BowlTV viewers to watch this very entertaining and interesting BowlTV Vault Video.


The Historian