The stocky man from Ohio wiped the blood from the thumb hole of his bowling ball, bit his quivering lips to short the electric pain shocks shooting up his arm and rolled for a spare. He was one of a dozen men bowling the 32nd game of a nonstop series which had started at 9 o'clock the previous night. Now it was 8 a.m., his dreams of gold and glory had long since been dissolved by exquisite agony and the worst was yet to come. Eight more games, two and a half more hours.
"I flew a thousand miles to bowl in this tournament," the Ohioan said. "When I get home I want to at least be able to say I went the route."
Across the floor of the Paramount Bowl, a gleaming 20-lane establishment which sits picturesquely at the foot of purple mountains in Ogden, Utah, other bowlers treated cracked thumbs, massaged aching muscles, shook their heads vigorously to fight off fatigue. The great Lee Jouglard of Detroit, holder of the alltime American Bowling Congress singles record, was tiring badly after averaging a remarkable 207 for 31 games.
"If I can go the distance, I think I'll win this thing," the slightly built Jouglard had said earlier. Now, his confidence was slowly surrendering to worriment; his approach to the foul line, normally as close as one could get to poetry in motion on the lanes, had assumed a plod like a policeman's on the beat; his strained face showed that mind was summoning body for strength that no longer was there.
That was the picture at 8 a.m. on June 29 in the Maxie Kosof Endurance Classic, the most sneered at, talked about and, in some circles, glorified tournament in the sport today. It was typical of most mornings of the 37-day event which ended Aug. 5. Jouglard, who had dropped into the 150s and 160s for four games, staged a courageous comeback to wind up with 8,219 pins (205.5 average)—highest total, up to that day, in the Classic's three-year history but good enough for only fourth place this year. During the 13�-hour test each man had carried nearly five tons of hard rubber ball more than two miles and had walked an additional two miles from the foul line to their seats.
What had they proved?
THIS IS SPORT?
"They proved they are bowlers, just as the Maxie Kosof Endurance Classic proves that bowling is a sport," said Russian-born Promoter Max Kosof. "As in other sports, a person cannot be considered a bowler until he has proved himself over the long route."
Kosof, a sturdily built man of medium height who appears much younger than his 49 years, knows the "long route" well, for he has been over it many times. In 1941, then a merchandising specialist in women's apparel in Indianapolis, he bowled 212 consecutive games in 30 hours for the benefit of the USO. Four years later, an Air Force noncom in Ogden, he shot 181 for 100 games in 10 hours and sold $60,000 worth of war bonds between frames. About that time he met and married a lovely Mormon girl, joined the church himself and forsook women's apparel to become a bowling center manager.
Kosof tried for several years to get his employers and others interested in staging an endurance tournament. But it was not until 1955, when he leased the new Paramount Bowl, that the Classic was born.