"Bill Taylor is probably the most controversial figure in bowling," says Allison, who studied bowling theory under Taylor in the mid-'60s. "But I've found him to be the most knowledgeable person I've ever talked to about the game. When he first started, his was a lone voice, but as time passes, Bill has gained many, many followers."
"If they had any sense, they'd give it to Glenn," Taylor says. "I mean, from the standpoint of satisfying public opinion, which is neither here nor there, except that in this case they know the man's a shooter. He's a shooter! And down the road, if they continue on this path, some 18-year-old who can't bowl a lick will get it."
Taylor snorts. "I've been against high scores for a long time—unearned high scores, that is—and ordinarily they'd expect to hear from me, 'Out with this score!' " His eyes narrow. "Ordinarily. But I checked the lane reports, and those lanes met the conditions specified in the rule book.
"The position of the ABC is that there was an insufficient amount of dressing on the far right side. Allison's position is that no relevance can be attached to the absence of sufficient dressing on the far right, a non-guidance area. What's relevant, in Allison's view, is that there was no line of dressing on the left side of the ball track to guide any errant shots to the strike pocket. In other words, had he executed a shot poorly enough that the ball would have tended to go left of the strike pocket, there was no oil line to keep it from doing so. Additionally, Allison claimed in his appeal that the inspectors' graphs of the oil distribution on Lanes 13 and 14 are at odds with the results of the other ABC-required written tests.
"What Glenn did was miraculous," says Taylor. "You could bring the top 20 stars in tonight, say, 'This is your pair of lanes, how do you want 'em? We'll fix 'em exactly that way and you can come in every Tuesday night for the rest of your life....' " Taylor's eyes blaze. "...And a 900 series wouldn't happen. That's how miraculous it was."
Although he's a firm believer in standards, Taylor treats the ABC's inspection procedures with undisguised contempt. "They say in the instructions that more oil may be put in the middle if it makes a gradual curve to the edges, so they're speaking of a slight crown, a slight arch," he says. "But there are no numerical references. One guy says this is a crown and another guy says that is a crown. It's like a cop in a little town in Georgia who pulls you over for speeding, and you say, 'Where's the speed limit sign? I didn't see a sign!' And he says, 'Well, you're just going too fast.' " Taylor shrugs. "Well, how fast is too fast? They won't say!
"The ABC's in a double bind. On one side they've got the bowling hierarchy, the high-average bowlers, in favor of this score—they recognize Glenn's feat. On the other hand, the ABC has this program they think they've been on since 1970 of not honoring unearned scores." Taylor leans forward. "They keep pointing their fingers at the proprietors. They keep saying, 'crooked bowling proprietors.' But the ABC is the main culprit. They approved the pins that don't want to stand up, they approved the balls, they approved the lanes—they even approved the bowler, by putting Glenn in their Hall of Fame! How can they not approve the scores?"
The ABC, if it weren't holding its tongue, could fairly accuse Taylor of trafficking in sentiment, not to mention opportunism, in spearheading the Allison appeal, especially when Taylor suggests the ABC can't sanction all the high score claims it receives because the award rings it gives away are too costly. But other Allison supporters with no ax to grind are equally in favor of sanctioning the 900, even, they suggest, if the lanes weren't right. This heresy—akin to allowing a wind-aided sprint record to stand or accepting a course record by a golfer using an illegal ball—derives from many bowlers' conviction that Allison's 900 was one of the greatest achievements in sports history, regardless of conditions, and should be recognized as such.
The Allison faithful like to bring up the ABC's precision ball-rolling machine, which can hit the pocket unfailingly at precisely controlled speeds, but which has never bowled a 300 game, much less a 900 series. "I don't know if that's really pertinent," responds the ABC's Kellermann.
Allison points out that when the crowd at La Habra urged him to see how long he could keep striking after bowling the 900, he threw four more strikes and then left a solid 8-pin with a perfect pocket hit. "I threw that ball as well as I threw any all night," Allison says. "Probably better, in fact, than 50 percent of the strikes I got." Similarly, the next weekend in a mixed-doubles tournament, Allison reports that he bowled poorly in the first game, "but the next three games I hit the pocket on all but one shot. And I shot a total of 637." He chuckles. "That's 263 pins less. But you see, I didn't have the right speed. I didn't have the right bowling ball. I didn't have the right head. Or something. It wasn't the same."