Allison didn't find being a professional bowler as financially rewarding as he had hoped, but his induction, in 1979, into the ABC Hall of Fame reflects his stature as one of the great team bowlers of the 1950s and '60s. He spent three years with Joe Kristof's Pabst Blue Ribbon team in Chicago and six more with the heralded Falstaff team of St. Louis, where he bowled with Jim St. John, Ron Gaudern, Billy Welu, Dick Hoover, Harry Smith, Al Savas, Norm Meyers and team captain Steve Nagy. "Glenn was very low-key," says Marzich, "but one of the cleverest bowlers I've ever known. The only guy that could rile him was Hoover." Riled or not, Allison bowled a powerful 780 series as Hoover's teammate when the two won the 1962 ABC doubles.
The era of the, great bowling teams died with formation of the Professional Bowlers Association in 1958. Allison drifted back to California and "retired," only to return to the PBA tour in 1966 for four years. In that span he won his five tour titles and four ABC tournament team championships, one with the Ace Mitchell Shur-Hooks. He retired permanently after a 730 series for an ABC Classic singles title in 1970.
"I was one of those sports figures who felt like it was never going to end," Allison says. "So when it did, I had some very tough times." After a year or so giving bowling lessons, Allison leased a bowling center near Los Angeles International Airport, which he operated as Glenn Allison Lanes until a 1976 fire badly damaged the building. A partnership in a vending-machine firm was no more successful. "I just couldn't adjust," he says. "I had the outlook of a bowler, not of a businessman." Even his bowling suffered. "I lost interest. When I was through work, I didn't care to bowl."
In 1979 Bob asked him to manage the family-owned liquor store. "I knew absolutely nothing about the business," Allison says, but working in a liquor store proved to be a restorative to his bowling game. "The store is so different from what I did all my life," he says. "It's been fun, and it's taken me out of the bowling Establishment. I think that rekindled my interest." In the past year Allison has bowled in four leagues, ending a five-year layoff from formal competition.
"Maybe I'm in a more relaxed frame of mind," he said one day last month over a crème de menthe in a La Habra steak house, while he was contemplating his appeal. "And maybe I'm bowling as well as I ever have." He turned to Jessie and smiled. "It remains to be seen."
Something in the lines around Allison's eyes betrayed doubts. "I've been close to the top in bowling through many years," he said, "but I never reached it. I would have liked to have been the top money-winner on the tour, or to have been Bowler of the Year.
"But the 900 series, if it were sanctioned, that's something that could never be broken. I would always be at the top of the record books, and as far as I'm concerned, that would make me immortal." He smiled. "That's the issue. My immortality. I want it." He nodded thoughtfully. "I do want it."
Bill Taylor says, "He should get it."
For two decades Taylor, the bearded one, the Bowling Guru, the sport's most outrageous gadfly, has waged a relentless crusade, in print and in person, against the bowling Establishment.
There's hardly a trend in recent memory that hasn't met with Taylor's thunderous denunciation, and his name elicits groans and the rolling of eyes at ABC headquarters. "Don't waste too much time with Taylor," warns an official. "He's kind of a screwball in the bowling industry."