Local bowling historians looking back at the bowling scene in the 1970s and early 1980s will no doubt talk about one of the brightest stars that seemingly left as abruptly as he arrived. Bobby Michaelson grew bored with life as a suburban teenager and turned to bowling as his escape. By his senior year, he was competing in the best menís leagues in Northern Virginia, including the Virginia Masters, where, at one point fairly late in the 1978-1979 season, the only bowler averaging 200 was Bobby.
Skipping his graduation from Oakton High School in 1974, the young prodigy instead rolled a 700 series to win the scratch doubles event with Dave Hudson in the 22nd Annual Virginia State Tournament.
That season, Bobby, the No. 3-ranked bowler in the association, was recognized throughout Virginia as one of the top bowlers, receiving his first of several Virginia State Bowling Association ďAll Star TeamĒ awards that annually honored the bowlers with the ve highest league averages in the state.
Always a threat in pot games throughout the area, Bobby tried his hand in the Professional Bowlers Association, nishing fourth in a PBA Eastern Region tournament in York, Pa., in the late 1970s and later cashing on the national tour in the 1980 PBA Long Island Open in Garden City, New York. Disenchanted with the outlook as a professional bowler on the PBA Tour, he turned his sights to college. He left the area to attend Radford University and later the University of Virginia, where he graduated with a B.A. degree in psychology in 1984. When he returned to the area, he resumed bowling with friends until a freak injury that damaged both wrists sidelined him for good.
Bobby appeared in the associationís Top 10 rankings four times, including the No. 1 position (202.02 average) for the 1978-1979 season. The following season, he ranked No. 2 (201.85). He also finished third in 1973-1974 (197.48) and ninth in 1977-1978 (190.51). In 1980, Bobby won the areaís most prestigious event for top bowlers, the MWBPA (Metropolitan Washington Bowling Proprietorsí Association) Invitational Tournament. He entered the stepladder nals as the top seed after leading the field wire-to-wire, defeating Hall of Famer Jim Robinette 193-174 for the title.
He recorded a perfect game at Bowl America Falls Church in 1986 and tossed numerous 700 series, including highs of 774 and 772 at McLean Bowling Center in the 1979-1980 season.
In 1973-1974, while only 17 years old, Bobbyís 211 average for 79 games in the Monday Night Mixed 5 league at Bowl America Fairfax was believed to be at that time the highest seasonal average ever held by a bowler in this association.
The history of bowling in the Nationís Capital Area in the 1970s to early 1980s cannot be written without including the name of Bobby Michaelson on the first page. For what seemed far too short a period, he was one of the best bowlers ever in this area and is, without question, an outstanding addition to the NCAUSBCA Hall of Fame.
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