A 78-year-old legally blind man nicknamed “The Hammer” has bowled a perfect game. Dale Davis of Alta, Iowa, nailed 12 consecutive strikes and reached 300 on Saturday night during league play.
“It’s a great sport. It’s something the young, the old and the handicapped can do,” Davis said Thursday. “I guess I count as the old and handicapped.”
Davis has suffered from macular degeneration, a chronic eye disease, for the past decade. He can’t see out of his left eye and has limited peripheral vision in his right eye.
Davis’ perfect game came at a roll-off to conclude the league season at a four-lane alley in the small northwest Iowa community of about 1,800 people.
Century Lanes owner Clem Ledoux said Davis’ game didn’t draw much attention until he reached 10 strikes. That’s when folks poured out of the bar to watch his final two shots.
Davis, who stands 5-foot-8 and just 115 pounds, threw a “Brooklyn,” where a right-hander strikes the left side of the head pin, for his final strike. The feat brought wild cheers from Davis’ fellow bowlers and onlookers.
“It went down there and somebody hollered ‘Brooklyn!’ It was just a solid sound in the pocket,” said Davis, whose average score is 180. “It was quite a thrill. For just a few minutes there I felt like a pro.”
Davis, who earned his unique moniker as a child from his blacksmith father, moved from California to live with his sister in Iowa shortly after losing sight in his left eye in 1997.
She encouraged him to start bowling again. Davis now bowls twice a week, and his fellow bowlers help him with pin placement and in making sure he picks up the right ball.
Davis said the only time he sees the ball is when he picks it up, but he can usually tell how his throw went by sound. All 12 tosses sounded great to Davis, who bowled the first 300 that Ledoux could recall at the alley since he took over in 1984.
“He’s got good coordination. He’s got good timing,” Ledoux said. “We’ve always kidded him that we think his bowling ball has eyes.”