At long last, it’s going to happen.
Former major leaguer Rick Auerbach is going to take on the pros – again.
But this time Auerbach will be taking his best shot at professional bowling.
The 64-year-old Auerbach, a major league infielder for 11 seasons from 1971 to 1981, including three years with the Dodgers, said Wednesday that he plans to test his bowling skills in a professional venue.
That will happen Aug. 16 when Auerbach will compete in the West Coast Senior Tour at Buena Lanes in Ventura. The WCST attracts the top bowlers from California and Nevada and is open to bowlers aged 60 and over.
Auerbach’s pro bowling debut has been on the radar for several years – ever since July 2012 when he crushed his first 800 series. Auerbach blistered games of 276, 276 and 266 for an 818 series using an antiquated rubber ball at AMF Woodlake Lanes.
That 800 feat cemented Auerbach’s spot among the elite amateur bowlers in the San Fernando Valley area, but he cautioned at the time that he wasn’t quite ready to declare himself worthy of competing against the Jason Belmontes of the world.
Showing a deep reverence for the sport and for pro bowlers, Auerbach said, “The house shot is a very easy shot. There are so many boards of leeway, that if you hit it in a certain area, you’ll strike.
“The pros have to deal with those different [oil] patterns. You have to hit one specific board every single time . . . and have to have the correct release, correct ball speed. Everything has to be lined up almost perfectly.
“To compare with what I’m doing to the pros is apples and oranges. It’s 10 times easier [away from tournaments]. A lot of people have told me that I’m better than the pros, but they have no idea what [lane conditions] those pros have to bowl on and how difficult they make it.”
Auerbach hasn’t changed his respect for the pros and said Wednesday that he wanted to participate in a pro bowling tournament “for the experience.”
And he added: “If I get my butt kicked or not, I’ll be there.”
Auerbach has ranked among the top echelon of league players the past year while bowling at Corbin Bowl in Tarzana. He’s averaging 215 on Tuesdays and 204 on Wednesdays.
Bryan Alpert, the Corbin Bowl manager who once won a national PBA tournament in Dublin, Calif., said of Auerbach’s pro debut: “I think he has all the tools to compete against that caliber of bowler.
“He’s proven himself over the years to be a high-caliber bowler and he’s an athlete and in great shape. If you’re in better shape than the other guy, you have a good chance to beat them.”