BOWL Magazine Interview: BOBBY HALL II

May 1994

It can't be denied that Bobby Hall II of Landover, Maryland has had a fairly decent year thus far. Among his tournament highlights are a second-place finish worth $2,500 in the National Bowling Association Canadian Club Singles Classic in Cleveland and a seventh in a PBA regional event in Richmond. In both tournaments, he rolled perfect games.

That's not all, however. On March 3, he scored his first 800 series, an 801 (267-258-276) in league play at Fair Lanes University. The following night he returned to University as a substitute and tallied the second highest series in NCABA history, an 863 on games of 298-285-280. It's believed to be the first time an area bowler has bowled consecutive 800s.

Bobby, 23, bowls five or six times a week, during which time he practices approximately 50-100 games. He also participates in pot games because, he admits, "I love the competition." In two leagues at University, he's averaging 227 and 229.

After cashing and narrowly missing the finals in last month's Nation's Capital/ Baltimore Area Masters Scratch Tournament at Alexandria Bowling Center, Bobby discussed his recent scoring binge and other subjects with BOWL Magazine Editor Bob Cosgrove.


Is there pressure on you when you carry such a high average?

No. This is the first time I've ever averaged this high. I'd love to finish the season with a 230—for my self-confidence.


You're in trouble if you shoot a good 190 game!

If I shoot 190 on a difficult lane, it's like averaging 220. But we rarely see conditions like that where your average would go down. You won't find any OB [out-of-bounds] shot around here.


Describe your 800s.

The 801 was more emotional for me because I've never shot an "8" before. My previous high was 771. I needed a double in the 10th. I knew I needed a 270-anything to get the 800. I didn't think I was going to do that, so I just bowled.

Next thing I know I have eight-in-a-row—I actually have a chance for 270, so now I'm thinking about it! I got stuck with the 10-pin, and I needed a double in the 10th. Of course I threw the double, and then on my 12th ball, I didn't care too much about it; I just knew with that double, I had 800. So I was a little more emotional about that.

On the 863, I didn't think about it because I didn't think I'd shoot 800 again. After I shot it the first time, it was pretty much easy. I just sat down and then threw each frame.

When I threw my first 300, I was a little more emotional, but when I threw my second one, I didn't think anything about it because I'd already done what I wanted to do.


What were your thoughts as you entered the third game of the 863 series?

I needed 217 to shoot another 800. I thought it would be a little hard to shoot because when you want to shoot something, you usually don't get it. So it's best that you just have a clear mind going into the last game. You just bowl and don't think about it. You've had 298 and 285, so what you need to think about is, `That's a lot of strikes you just threw!' so thinking about what you're going to do now is too late. You just execute and repeat the best way you can.


Were people talking to you?

When I was going at that pace, I tried to find a corner of the bowling circle and stay to myself. People talked to me a little, but they tended not to bother me while I bowled.


What happened after the second 800?

I thought about it the whole weekend. A serious feeling came over me that's hard to describe. I still to this day don't think that I did it.


What did you bowl your next outing?

Average. Somewhere between 600 and 620.


A real letdown, eh?

Not really. Usually I never try to repeat what I've already done. If it happens, it happens. As soon as you try to repeat what you've done, you usually have a letdown. The best thing I'll do is practice if lanes are available. I just do it.


Are you currently considering joining the PBA?

I've had serious thoughts about doing that. That's why I've been working hard on my game. My father pretty much laid the foundation for me and told me what was expected of me if I want to pursue this as a career. I need events like this [the Masters] for self-confidence and to get noticed, really. It's hard enough as it is to get sponsors, so I have to do outrageous and spectacular things such as I have been doing just to get noticed.


Is it important to have respect from your peers and have them notice that you're a "player"?

It used to be. But after I did what I did, it doesn't matter anymore because I already feel that I earned their respect—at least I'm pretty sure that they respect me, as far as on the lanes.


Is there something you have to do beyond the two 800 series in league, such as winning a Masters?

After I did that, it's time to move on to another step. Now I'm trying to impress the people out there on the professional level. I'm trying now to step up my level of play.


By participating in regionals, etc.?

Exactly. Hopefully, somebody will see what they like and take me up.


What about the local rankings by The Guru (Gary Parsons)?

I don't know!


Does what he write get you angry? stir you up?

Well, he does have an ink pen, so it is kind of important. People read his stuff.


Do you consider being mentioned in The Guru's column an avenue for gaining respect from others?

Kind of, because everybody reads the magazine. So when they see your name, they automatically have an opinion of you and what this individual thought about you.


I know I can compete
with anybody around here.
I don't think anybody is throwing
the ball any better than I am.


There's a lot of people who read the magazine who may not know The Guru and might think that he's really something and that this must be important. Somebody else might say that it's just his opinion—ask a half a dozen people and see what they think. So there's two ways you can come out on that.


Where would you put yourself in a ranking?

That a good question! Where would I put myself?


Let's put it this way: Can you think of bowlers you'd put ahead of yourself now?

No, but at the risk of not trying to offend anybody....


But you know you will!

I know I can compete with anybody around here. I don't think anybody here is throwing the ball any better than I am. A few people have more experience than I do, but I'm slowly getting the experience that I need.


That's the key—experience?

Experience and remembering—if you can remember what you did. I hate to leave a pair of lanes—even if I shot good or bad—and not know what I just did or not have a clue about how I just played or if I didn't read the lanes. That ticks me off. As long as I can leave a bowling alley learning something, I'm happy. The more knowledge you have is power.


Are you a "smart" bowler?

Right now, I suppose my physical game is somewhat ahead of my mental game, as far as overall knowledge about the game.


Do you feel that you need to make those split-second decisions a little faster to raise your game to another level?

Yes, I do. It just takes me a little longer than other people to do it, but I'm learning slowly but surely. It's part of the learning process.


What do you do besides bowl?

Gee.... I basically don't do anything but bowl. I do a lot of practicing, I bowl [leagues, tournaments, and pot games], and that's it. I don't do anything else. This is what I'm trying to make a living at.


Do you have other jobs or anything?

No. For where I'm trying to get to, my father won't allow me to have too much responsibility because if you've got a lot of bills and a lot of things coming in, it's hard to focus in on what you're trying to do. This is what I'm trying to do. It's the only thing I'm trying to do, and so right now, I'm doing it.


Is your goal to be a touring professional?

My goal is to make a living—simple as that. Hopefully along the way, I will get some kind of fame. But it's more important to make a living. What's the use of winning one title but losing money at the end of the year—you're not making a living. So my main objective is to bowl well enough and to be self-sufficient and make a living.


Do you have any back-up plan?

I'd go back to school. My major was criminology/criminal justice at Prince George's Community College, where I went for three years, and I have a year or two to go. I could either become a lawyer or a policeman—I haven't decided which one yet. Someone suggested that I become a lawyer because I love to talk!

I've taken a year or two off just to pursue [bowling as a career]. It's my first love and I grew up on it.


Some say they see more maturity in you and your game. True?

I feel I have a little more self-confidence on the lanes. How I feel when I'm on the lanes, I now try to display within myself—and keep it within myself. This is something that comes from inside; this is what I work out. It's what helps me perform well on the lanes.


Do you feel you have an obligation to be a role model when you're on the lanes?

It has become more important because a lot of people are watching me and judging me by my performance. So now it does become important in how people think of you.

If you carry yourself right, people will do a lot for you. If you carry yourself badly, no matter how good you are, people are always rooting against you whether you hear it or not, and there's not too many people who will go out of their way to help you. That way, you'll find yourself by yourself.


Are there people you admire?

The only person I ever really truly looked up to was my father. He showed me a lot of love as I grew up and has done so much for me, so I've never had any reason to be envious or jealous or have reason to look up to anybody else.


What's the best advice you've received from your father?

One of the best pieces of advice he ever gave me was to never change my arm swing and footwork. Because of that, I've always been able to repeat. I've always been able, from the time I start to the time I end, to arrive at the same point shot after shot after shot. He said to change anything else but not that. He also told me to always make your spares because then you're never out of it. That's about it.


My goal is to make a living—simple as that.
Hopefully, along the way,
I will get some kind of fame.


You said he laid the foundation of your game.

Yes, he did. After you reach a certain point, it becomes mental. With these balls coming out, it's not so much physical anymore—it's mental. How long can you remain focused enough to execute shot after shot?

I don't know how it was back then; I can only speculate on what I've heard. Apparently there was a lot of physical as well as mental. Now, it's reading the lanes, where you're at, hitting your mark, and getting the kind of result you're looking for.


How do you keep up with all the new equipment?

I read a little. I keep my eyes and mind open. I listen, especially when I'm in a pro shop, and I observe what an individual is doing. I stay in a bowling alley constantly because you can only get better by constant participation. With constant bowling, you can't go down.


As a frequent inhabitant of bowling centers, what are your thoughts on the current smoking debate?

I'm a non-smoker. I hate to come home and have that smoke on my clothes so that everyone knows where I've been. There's only a couple of places you can come from where you smell like smoke—a bar and a bowling alley. I don't care for smoking because the smoke really bothers me.

Of course there are a few insensitive people who put the ashtray right in front of you and smoke is blowing directly in your face and that becomes especially irritating. I hate to leave a bowling alley smelling like smoke.


What's your next goal?

Stepping my game up. Continue to bowl regionals and hopefully next year I'll bowl a few national stops.

I can only go by what people say, but you don't actually know what it's like out there until you bowl in a national PBA event, and I can't wait to get there.


This area has never had a national champion on the pro level. Have you ever thought that you could be the first?

I think about it. I still have a lot of goals in mind—they may or may not ever happen, but they are goals to reach for. I'd like to be the first one to do it; I'd like to be the first black to do it.

I'd like one day to be on TV. Hopefully one day I'd win on TV. There are a lot of goals I'm trying to do, step by step. If I do them in order, maybe [winning a national pro title] would happen.


If a guy came up and said he'd be your sponsor, would you immediately get your PBA card?

What I'd immediately do have a talk with that gentleman! Give him my name, address, etc., and then we'd sit down and have a conference.

If anything spectacular is going to happen next, it hopefully would be winning a regional. I wanted to shoot 300; I did. I wanted to shoot 800; I did—back-to-back. My next goal is to win a title. ·