Father, son bowlers strike big on same night
Published February 27, 2013
HARRISON TOWNSHIP — Joe and Debbie Buffa did more than a few “walk-bys” as they kept a close watch on their son John’s league game at Total Sports bowling lanes in Harrison Township Jan. 26.
They also watched somewhat nervously a few lanes away as they finished up their second game that night.
“I knew what was going on,” said John Buffa, 27, of Macomb Township. “I knew they were watching.”
But John’s concentration on that particular game — also his second of three for the night — didn’t waver. How he finished that game wasn’t a game changer, per say, but it was nonetheless important, which is why his parents were keeping a close eye, but not getting too close.
“We didn’t want to jinx it,” Joe said.
As the crowd around John erupted, Joe and Debbie knew it had happened…again. John bowled a 300 game.
But the story doesn’t end there.
Nearing the end of his third game that night, Joe, 59, started feeling a pinch of anxiety. He was entering the 10th frame with nothing but strikes.
“I thought, ‘Boy, this would be kind of neat if we both bowled perfect games on the same night,’” said Joe, a bowler since age 10.
But it wasn’t a new idea. Father and son, who bowl on multiple leagues around Macomb County and in Detroit both together and separately, had always yearned to bowl a 300 game while competing in the same league on the same night.
“We had a couple of really good chances earlier in the year, but it didn’t happen,” said John, a delivery driver for the Detroit Pencil Company in Detroit.
But they weren’t giving up hope.
“When I got to the 10th frame I started talking to myself,” said Joe, who also lives in Macomb Township. “I was saying a prayer. I was in the zone. You have to block out everything around you. It gets pretty quiet.”
When he ultimately achieved a 300 game that night, everyone on The Brew Crew League exploded with applause.
“John and Debbie both came up to me at the same time and gave me a hug,”said Joe, a senior logistician for the Army Tank Auto Command in Troy. “It was nice.”
John, who has bowled 19 perfect games in his 20-year bowling career — he started bowling in leagues at age 7 — said while Joe’s games was winding down he found himself doing the same multiple “walk-bys” as his parents had done while he was playing.
“I didn’t want him to get it because I’m catching up to him,” John said jokingly. Joe has bowled 23 perfect games in his career.
“No, it was something we really wanted,” John continued.
There’s still plenty of league time left for the winter to do it again. Then, once the warm seasons start, Joe, John and Debbie won’t be seen too much around the local bowling alleys.
“Not many people want to be inside bowling during the summer,” said Joe. “That’s when we start golfing.”
Maybe there’s a double hole-in-one day in sight for Joe and John this summer.
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