By Polly Keary, Editor
Gene Linstead bowled 11 strikes in a row, and when the last frame of pins was set up at the end of the lane, the whole bowling alley quieted.
The left-handed bowler paused, rolled, and crash! Ten pins fell and the whole alley erupted in cheers.
A 300, a perfect score, is rare enough. But Linstead, of Monroe, was particularly impressive in that he rolled the perfect game at the age of 83.
Linstead, who has been bowling since 1957, hasn’t always been this good. In fact, his last several years have been his best.
When he started out, playing on a league with friends from work, he averaged about 160 points a game.
“I worked my way up to about a 170 average,” he said. “Then I bowled in a league with a bunch of strong bowlers and paid attention, and got up to the 190s.”
Gene bowled at that level for years, but recently, his game has gotten even better.
Two years ago, his average was 215. Then he had a quadruple bypass, and also endured a fractured foot and ankle.
That brought his score down about 10 points.
But he’s back on his game now, and said that it’s the competition that keeps him interested.
“I like beating the younger guys,” he said with a smile, as Esther, his wife of 58 years, chuckled.
Linstead bowled his first 300 about 14 years ago, which his wife missed.
“I was at a Bingo game,” she confessed.
But she was there for the last one about three weeks ago. It was his second 300 score. He’s had four scores of 299, and at the age of 78, he bowled an 800 over the course of three games, also a significant accomplishment.
Last week, as he bowled with friends at Majestic Lanes in Everett, he and his wife were planning to head to Reno for the Masters Tournament, a season-long tournament that takes place each spring and early summer.
He has won in his age group several times, once in the 60 and over group, once in the 70 and over group, and once in the 62 and over group.
He’ll be randomly assigned to a three-person team, but he’ll play in the doubles with long-time bowling partner Vern Peterson of Edmonds, who has been bowling with Linstead for 20 years. He will also bowl in the singles event.
When he’s not bowling, Linstead stays busy doing community activities in Monroe. He and his wife have volunteered at the food bank for a total of 20 years between them. And Linstead, who with his wife used to volunteer to monitor traffic in town, also has created signs on 179th Street that read “Thank you for going 25.”
And he enjoys growing dahlias, too.
But he still finds time to bowl two to four days per week.
“I can’t quit,” he said.