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Pro bowling: Once perfect, Charlotte bowler raises his sights

By Bill Kiser
Correspondent
Joe Scarborough Bowler
Robert Lahser - rlahser@charlotteobserver.com
In his mature years, electrician Joe Scarborough bowled 3 perfect games – a 900 series, as bowlers call it.

More Information

  • PBA50 Miller High Life Classic

    At George Pappas Victory Lanes, Mooresville

    Sunday

    9 a.m.: Practice

    2 p.m.: Pro-am squads

    4:30 p.m.: Pro-am squads

    7 p.m.: Pro-am squads

    Monday

    10 a.m.: A squad qualifying (eight games)

    4 p.m.: B squad qualifying (eight games)

    Tuesday

    10 a.m.: B squad qualifying (eight games)

    4 p.m.: A squad qualifying (eight games)

    Field cut to 40 bowlers

    Wednesday

    10 a.m.: Match-play rounds

    6:30 p.m.: Championship rounds

    Source: PBA Tour



Just over a year ago, Charlotte’s Joe Scarborough was a strugging rookie on the Professional Bowlers Association’s 50-and-over tour.

It took 36 perfect frames to change Scarborough’s life – both as a pro bowler and in his full-time job as an electrical contractor.

“Yeah, it was pretty wild,” Scarborough, now 51, said. “I went from the person that just blended into tournaments into somebody who’s pretty well known across the country – heck, across the world.

“I started bowling when I was a little kid, and told everybody one day that I was going to be a pro. They just laughed at me, but I guess I showed them, didn’t I?”

Scarborough is among the 147 entries for this week’s PBA50 Miller High Life Classic, which begins Sunday with practice rounds at the George Pappas Victory Lanes in Mooresville.

Qualifying rounds will be held Monday and Tuesday, with the match-play and championship games Wednesday.

While Scarborough may not be the most successful bowler competing in this week’s tournament, he may be among the most famous.

On April 21, 2013, the Asheville native became the first person to bowl a perfect 900 series – three consecutive 300 games – in a PBA-sanctioned tour event. Scarborough did it in his first three games on the opening day of qualifying at the PBA50 tour stop at the Villages, Fla.

The feat – coming in Scarborough’s second-ever PBA national-level tournament – thrust his name into headlines worldwide, earned him a certain notoriety in the bowling community, and even helped his business.

“The big superstars of bowling, the ones who have been out there for years and years, they talk to me now,” Scarborough said. “I got a bowling ball contract from Storm, and a contract from another company that supplies grips for bowling balls.

“Oh yeah, and I changed the name of my company. It’s all been pretty cool.”

The name change – Scarborough’s electrical contracting firm is now called Mr. 900 Electric – came about during last year’s Mooresville tournament, after an electrical problem knocked out power at George Pappas Victory Lanes.

“I took off my shoes, walked to the back and starting trying to figure out what was going on,” Scarborough said. “After we were done, someone said, ‘You should change your name to Mr. 900 Electric,’ so that’s what we did.”

Now Scarborough is trying to turn that notoriety into some success on the PBA50 Tour.

In four events last season, Scarborough made it to the match-play rounds twice, with a season-best finish of 30th at last year’s Mooresville tournament. This year, he’s finished 41st and 55th in the season’s first two events.

“It’s been fun, but I’m trying to pick up those tournament titles now,” Scarborough said. “Things happen and you get in slumps. Part of becoming a better pro bowler is having to do bad too. It’s just part of the business.”

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