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"Mark is still a little shy," says fellow bowler Joe Berardi Jr.
"Mark is a quiet guy," says Dale Glenn, another member of the Professional Bowlers Association.
"Mark's a man of simple tastes and simple habits," says John Jowdy, a bowling-ball salesman and Roth's adviser.
Mark Roth is in his hotel room preparing for a day at the lanes. Shy, quiet, bland, simple Mark Roth starts by vigorously thrusting both fists into the air and emitting a primitive shriek. Then he pounds his fists on the bed, stomps his feet on the floor and produces guttural babblings, an occasional "Wahoo!" and an "Eeeiii!" or two. Sunbeams that poke through his window are clobbered into yellow shards by roundhouse punches.
Then for the next 30 seconds Roth stares out the window while chattering the same word over and over: "Firp, firp, firp, firp...." After that, he hurtles through the air, plops on the bed and buries the end of a "Let's go!" yell into a pillow.
Roth now lies motionless, soundless. Has the routine ended? Not quite. Slowly he rolls off the bed, stands up and glances in the mirror. He bellows unintelligibly, spins around, picks up a pillow and slams it against the wall. As feathers flutter to the floor, Roth opens the door of his room and nonchalantly steps into the corridor. He nods at a startled maid who has been listening, says, "Good morning," and is off to work.
"When I first saw him go through his routine, I thought he was a basket case," says bowler Teata Semiz, who often rooms with Roth. "Then I realized that this was his way of letting everything out and his way of getting psyched up. And let me tell you, Mark is always psyched up."
To begin to comprehend Mark Roth, one must first understand that he is essentially shy, quiet, bland, simple. Next, one must digest the fact that Roth has a complex psyche that is somehow connected to his stomach, a bubbling caldron where his emotions simmer and seethe. Finally, it must be conceded that there is method in Roth's occasional madness, for at 27, the Brooklyn-born bowler is currently the most successful practitioner of his trade in the world.
Ordinarily Roth proceeds through life in what seems to be a semicomatose state. Within him, however, juices are burbling and he is sometimes unable to control them. In February, while bowling in the Pro-Am event before the $150,000 Burger King Open in Miami, he got so excited that he was almost beside himself.