“I’m due for another one.”
Bowling stalwart Rick Auerbach had just opened his third game with three straight strikes Tuesday night in the “Viva Las Vegas” league at AMF Woodlake Lanes in Woodland Hills, triggering thoughts of a 300 game.
Not one prone to superstition, Auerbach talked and joked and laughed easily about the possibility of his bowling a perfecto.
Auerbach, who played 11 seasons in the major leagues from 1971-1981, was in somewhat of a rut and he knew it. He was consistently smoking 200 scores but another 300 game had eluded him since he rolled his 11th perfect game in September.
The right-handed Auerbach then threw another strike in the fourth frame. “Maybe I’ll do one for you,” he told a reporter, “but don’t bet on it.”
Since he embraced bowling almost seven years ago, Auerbach has emerged as one of the top amateur bowling talents in the Los Angeles area. He generated considerable buzz last year when he blistered a blockbuster 818 series, his first certified 800 series.
Auerbach, a Woodland Hills resident, then rolled a strike in the fifth frame and another in the sixth.
“It’s a long way from over,” cracked Auerbach, who played three years with the Los Angeles Dodgers and blasted a home run off famed left-hander Vida Blue.
Asked whether he was feeling some pressure, Auerbach said, “What I always tell everyone is that pressure is self-inflicted. There’s no such thing as pressure. It’s what you put in your brain.”
It was another strike in the seventh frame for Auerbach, who turned 63 in February.
In the eighth frame, the chase for 300 ended as he knocked down only nine pins. Teammates and onlookers watched and rooted for the strike that barely missed as a pileup of pins left one pin remaining.
“I swung it wide and it never came back,” said Auerbach with a smile. “I didn’t deserve it [strike].”
Auerbach finished with a sizzling 254. Teammates and opponents alike came over and shook his hand.
With three games over 200 for the night, Auerbach ripped a 687 series using his antiquated rubber bowling ball.
“I’ll take it,” said Auerbach, smiling.