Glenn Allison Bowled Three Perfect Games, but Now He's Involved in An Alley Fight

updated 11/15/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/15/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

Hall of Fame bowler Glenn Allison's birthday present to girlfriend Jessie Thompson was perfect. That's the problem. Last July 1, with his knees wobbling and his nerves barely soothed by two shots of whiskey, Allison, 52, rolled his 36th strike in a row, becoming the first person in 87 years of American Bowling Congress-sanctioned league bowling to roll a flawless string of three 300 games.

Yet Allison's brush with bowling immortality may amount to only that—a near miss. Though his perfect 900 was witnessed by about 250 league brethren at the LaHabra 300 Bowl near Allison's hometown of Whittier, Calif., the Wisconsin-based ABC has twice refused to honor the record. The reason, they say, is that an inspection of the alleys that night and again the following day disclosed that the center of the lanes had been excessively oiled, helping to straighten the ball and possibly aiding Allison's score. The ABC's ruling and its rejection last week of Allison's appeal are widely interpreted as part of a campaign to discourage alley owners who deliberately inflate scores to boost business. Allison, however, is miffed over the alley-oops. "I know I set the record," he says, "and no one can take it away from me. I'm going to get a lawyer and go to court."

If there has been any consolation for Allison, who spent 13 years on the pro bowling circuit and now manages his brother's liquor store in Whittier, it has been the enthusiastic support of his neighbors. Petitions in his behalf have been circulating at local lanes, newspaper editorials have protested his cause, and a friend has started a "Save the Glenn Allison 900 Fund" to offset eventual legal fees.

Allison started bowling at 11 with his father, then an auto salesman. He joined the pro tour in 1958, and in 1962 he won three championships and $20,000. Divorced three times ("I just wasn't home enough," he explains), he now bowls three nights a week and boasts a respectable 214 average. As for his chances of overturning the ABC ruling in court, bowling observers believe he's rolling a gutterball. Says an ABC spokesman: "There has been litigation in several cases, and our denial of score recognition has held up in all of them."

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