299: Missed it by ‘that much’
By Chris Calkins, 45th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 23, 2010
Patrick AFB, Fla. -- Ten strikes in row, and it was a beauty, poured down the alley with a precision-like hook.
Eleven strikes; thrown a little high but sometimes you need a little luck on your side.
Lining up for the 12th strike now, and a perfect game. This is bowling's version of a baseball no-hitter, a hole-in-one in golf.
And suddenly it got very quiet.
So, with every eye in the bowling center watching, the 22-year Air Force veteran and career bowler took a deep breath, and let it fly.
The left-hander watched as the ball curved into the pocket, arms raised in celebration, only to watch the 7-pin rock side to side and back and forth. Only to stay there.
A 299 game. Missed it by "that much."
And yet she still found reason to be happy.
She is Master Sgt. Mary Scoggins, a reserve 45th Space Wing Security Forces Airman, who is retiring soon and recently accepted a civilian position as the Security Supervisor at the Visitor Control Center at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Her current co-worker, Steve Girkey was there for her showing, said he was glad to see her perform so well under such enormous pressure.
"When we first talked bowling, Mary said (Pro Bowling hall of famer) Earl Anthony was her idol. Little did I know her games would rival his," he said with admiration.
And while she may have missed her chance at "bowling immortality" (for the time being) earlier this month at a local bowling center here in Brevard County, that doesn't detract anything from the legacy she started building many years ago - and keeps adding to it today.
Mary, a native of Lapeer, Mich., began bowling in youth leagues with her brother Norm, when she was 8-years-old. Her mother, Jacqueline, is still bowling today in a Senior League in Orlando.
"I threw a backup ball until my early 20's and then switched over to a curve ball. I started to "grow up" as a bowler," she said with her ever-ready smile.
And grow up she did.
In her two-decade-plus years of service to her country, Mary has bowled in too-many-to-count military and civilian bowling tournaments all over the country.
In 1994, she made the All Air Force Team, and a short while later went to Camp Lejune, N.C., where she competed at the All Services tournament in hopes to make Team USA.
Even though she bowled her first-ever 700 series that weekend, she still fell just 28 pins short of being able to represent her country.
"I did my best; that's all that really counts. What an overwhelming and adventurous experience," she said.
Mary, who is one of only 11 females in the entire county to carry an average of more than 200, doesn't take herself or her sport all that seriously.
"I really look forward to where this new career will take me," she said. "Everyone asks why I don't go pro. Well, the first thing is it doesn't pay the mortgage and I prefer to have fun while I am bowling. I don't cart around ten bowling balls like most avid bowlers. My current bowling ball I use is one that I purchased a few years back from the Patrick AFB pro shop," she said, while admiring the upgrades the Patrick Bowling Center recently underwent.
"Although my softball career has come to an end, I plan on bowling as long as I can get a ball down the alley," she added.
Don't count perfection out just yet.