OSCODA – During the summer months Bill Arnold calls Oscoda home. Arnold, who spends the rest of his time in Ohio will have a permanent home this spring, when he is officially inducted into the Ohio Bowling Hall of Fame.
“It is a heck of an honor, and somewhat unexpected too, when you look at some of the resumes of the people that are in it, Arnold said. “I think longevity had something to do with it. I was a decent bowler 50 years ago and I’m still a decent bowler and I guess that is why I was recognized.”
Arnold’s claim of being only a decent bowler is underselling what has been a lengthy and successful bowling career.
He still bowls an average of 215 at the age of 74, had bowled 20 300 games in his life and rolled an impressive 800 series five times. He was a part time bowler in the Professional Bowlers Association Senior Tour in the late 1990s and won the Ohio doubles state title in 2000. He Hasn’t slowed down since then either, as he has regular competed and fared well enough to medal in the Michigan Senior Olympics, the National Senior Games and the Veterans Administration Golden Age Games. He also plans to take part in the upcoming National Senior Games, the next of which will be held in Nov. 2021 in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
“The manager at the local lanes (in Ohio) that I bowl at another guy that I bowl with, who is already in the hall sent the nomination form in for me and I thought that was nice that they thought enough of me to do that, but I didn’t really expect this,” Arnold said. “Then, I got the letter from the hall saying I was being inducted.”
Arnold, who enters the hall in the Superior Performance Amateur Category, began bowling at a young age. In fact, he believes it was about 70 years ago when he discovered the game.
“My grandfather got me into it when I was four or five years old and I have been doing it ever since,” he said. “He would take me to the bowling alley every Friday night and I would sit and watch him in his league and I would bowl a gam or two after he was done. I skipped competing in high school and did my first adult league when I was 13. It is the one thing I am reasonably adapt at, I am not all that athletic but I guess I have some good hand-eye coordination.”
Arnold, a US Army veteran who served in Korea from 1967-71, worked as a civilian at Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda from 1971-78. During that time he bowled at Sand Bar Lanes (now Vista Lanes) in Oscoda, the very lanes where he also met his wife of 48 years, Eve. In 1978 Arnold was transferred to Newark AFB in Ohio, but their love for this area has never stopped.
“My wife has family there (Oscoda) as she grew up there and we go back there every summer,” he said. “We have a condo on F-41 and I take my boat out on VanEtten and bowl when I can. This summer (due to COVID-19) I had to drive up to Alpena to bowl because of the lanes being shut down.
“It was kind of funny, they shut down the bowling lanes down here (in Ohio) in March and we went up to Oscoda the first of June and the next day the lanes opened down here,” Arnold added. “I missed March-through-July but then I found Alpena had their lanes open, so that is where I had to go to get some games in and get some competition up there. The first four or five weeks I wasn’t really bowling well at all, then it finally came around.”
While his accolades have certainly piled up over the years, he is adamant that isn’t what has driven him to keep bowling at a high level.
“A lot of it is just a chance to get out and see friends and hang out with them a couple times of year,” Arnold said. “I am a pretty competitive person, I bowl in senior leagues but I also bowl once a week in a league against young guys. My favorite thing is to beat the young guys; they have so much power and speed. The competition aspect of it is what keeps me going; plus now that I have gotten involved in the senior Olympics, I am really working on my game so I can excel in that.”
Arnold is far from calling it a career either. In fact, in some ways his career is just getting started. Just last week he bowled a series of 731; a day after rolling a 794.
“Next year I will be in the 75-to-79 year-old age bracket,” he said. “I am excited to be the youngest guy in my bracket.”