A baseball card collector has stepped into the limelight of pro bowling. He wasn't involved with his hobby on Saturday, though.
Rather, Ron Williams of Ft. Worth, who owns a rare 1956 Roberto Clemente, went hunting for a reward of another kind and collected it--the $35,000 first prize in the AC-Delco tournament at Gable House in Torrance.
Going into the title rolloff as the No. 1 seeded player after leading the 160-man field over 42 games, Williams, 27, needed to defeat Mark Thayer of Lafayette, Ind., in the championship match.
He did this, 232-212, with three strikes in the final frames.
Thayer lost his chance in the last frame when he left two pins standing.
"I felt a big relief when that happened," said Williams, a father of two young sons. "Bonnie (his wife) and I will use the money to start building the house we've been planning."
Williams, with 250,000 cards in his collection, said he used a bowling ball designed by Hall of Famer Carmen Salvino.
"It's got a two-piece weight block inside instead of one. For me, it hits the pocket harder."
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound champion has an unorthodox delivery. He locks his arm in close to his side and swings the ball out like a side-armer.
"It's like (Cleveland quarterback) Bernie Kosar getting off one of those passes of his," he said. "I learned to bowl that way (in Cahokia, Ill.) and I've stuck to the style. It's good for me."
Thayer, still winless, earned the right to meet Williams by defeating another Williams from Texas, 222-204.
He came from behind to defeat Mark Williams when the latter missed a 3-10 split in the ninth frame.
Mark Williams, a six-time champion, advanced by defeating Marshall Holman, 213-195, and Dave Husted, 231-200.