Kokomo Three-Game Series  -  Game Series Record Progression


The topic for this article is how the three-game series record has progressed through the years.

In 1929, Harrison "Hack" Thompson recorded the first sanctioned 700 series when he broke through for a 704. The stage for this historic event was the Minor City League bowled at the Recreation Alleys. The series record has since been elevated seventeen times towards the current record of 856.

The upward progression started during the 1930 city tournament when George Elliott posted a 708 and Joe Fohn staked a 717. During this time period, tournament and league records were separately recognized. Harry Schneiderman exploded for a 710 in 1932 to increase the league top score. Kokomo Bowling Hall-of-Famer Fred Hurstel upped the overall mark with a 721 in the 1936 city tournament. George Haseltine uncorked a 739 in 1936 to raise the league best. "Lefty" Willer threw a 748 in a Derby Mixed Doubles tournament to bump up the overall standard. In April 1940, Fred Hurstel chalked up a 744 in the scratch City League to become the only person to hold the record twice.

Eight months later, Ronnie Wray chalked up a 752 to set a new league and overall record. From this time forward, each increase in the record occurred in league play. Kokomo and Indiana Bowling Hall-of-Famer Don Lowry escalated the mark by stroking a 759 in 1947. Exactly four years later to the day, Larry Hubert nudged the record four pins to 763. Delco’s Mike Wikel jumped the high total to 768 in 1957.

PBA great Don Johnson, the third Kokomo Bowling Hall-of-Famer on this list, put the record at 771 in 1962. Chuck Smith upped it to 778 in 1978. No one could have expected that the record would be rewritten two more times before the conclusion of the 1978/79 bowling season. But that is exactly what happened. Less than three months after Chuck Smith’s score, Ted Wooley cranked a 790. About three months later, on April 2, 1979, Ed Martin became the first Kokomo bowler to shatter the coveted 800 barrier when he mastered a series of 813. Less than one year later, that record was inched forward to 814 by Jay Lawrence. Jay’s score was even more amazing because he had never before had a 700 series.

About one year later, on February 3, 1981, the current record was set when Dan Preston shot a huge 856. The 800 barrier has only been achieved three times since, with no one coming close to Preston’s 856. Mike Phillips and Steve Sullivan broke the barrier in April and October 1992, respectively. Only last week, University of Nebraska senior Brian Graham shot 803 for Kokomo’s sixth 800 series. Of the record setting performances, only Dan Preston’s included a 300 game.

As the series record evolved, several excellent series were rolled by Kokomo bowlers while competing in other cities. Harry Schneiderman whirled a 713 in the 1928 state tournament in South Bend. He was eventually beaten by a score of 714, thrown by a Hammond bowler, which was unsuccessfully protested by the KBA because that bowler had an Illinois address.

In May 1929, less than one month after Hack Thompson shot his historic 704, he stroked a 705 at the state tournament in Terre Haute. Hack’s score was good for 11th place. One week later, Joe Fohn crunched a 718 in a challenge match in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

The complete series record sequence, including the date, game scores and the bowling center involved, is shown below. Special thanks go to Ralph Densborn for his help identifying one score I was missing.


City Series Record Progression


Name Date Game Scores Series Total Location
"Hack" Thompson 04/12/29* 245-244-215 704 Recreation Alleys
George Elliott 01/23/30** 247-247-214 708 Recreation Alleys
Joe Fohn 01/22/30** 223-229-265 717 Recreation Alleys
Harry Schneiderman 01/26/32* 227-247-236 710 Recreation Alleys
Fred Hurstel 02/02/36** 223-243-255 721 Recreation Alleys
George Haseltine 12/03/36* 253-233-253 739 Recreation Alleys
Henry "Lefty" Willer 03/27/38*** 276-245-227 748 Recreation Alleys
Fred Hurstel 04/25/40* 251-225-268 744 Evans Academy
Ronnie Wray 12/23/40* 267-257-228 752 Evans Academy
Don Lowry 10/16/47* 214-276-269 759 Evans Academy
Larry Hubert 10/16/51* 278-219-266 763 Recreation Alleys
Mike Wikel 04/01/57* 264-248-256 768 Play Bowl
Don Johnson 11/08/62* 278-278-215 771 Play Bowl
Chuck Smith 10/05/78* 284-264-230 778 Lowry Lanes
Ted Wooley 12/28/78* 264-289-237 790 Cedar Crest
Ed Martin 04/02/79* 257-278-278 813 Cedar Crest
Jay Lawrence 01/23/80* 268-279-267 814 Cedar Crest
Dan Preston 02/03/81* 287-269-300 856 Cedar Crest

* = League Record

** = Bowled in City Tournament

*** = Bowled in Derby Mixed Doubles Tournament