Georgia bowler makes 50th appearance at OC

RENO, Nev. - When Bill Nesbitt of Rossville, Ga., made his 50th march down Center Aisle this week at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships, the celebration became a family affair.

The 76-year-old right-hander became the 172nd bowler in tournament history to reach the 50-year milestone, and he was able to solidify his place in the record books as his son, Scott, made his 25th USBC Open Championships appearance.

"I was a little bit nervous for that walk down Center Aisle," said Nesbitt, who received a plaque, chevron and diamond lapel pin to commemorate the milestone. "But I got over it. It was special."

Nesbitt started his tournament career at the 1964 Open Championships in Oakland, Calif., and has made it back to every tournament since 1970. He missed the 1969 tournament in Madison, Wis., because Scott was just a newborn.

Prior to competing Friday, Scott actually joked that despite being just three months old that year, he made sure his father skipped the event, so they could go on to celebrate their milestones together years later.

Scott made his tournament debut at the 1990 tournament at the nearby Reno-Sparks Convention Center, the second of the event's 12 trips to The Biggest Little City in the World. Just a few years ago they realized they would hit the 50- and 25-year milestones in the same year.

The 2013 event, also at the NBS, was the first year they competed on the championship lanes at the same time, and they were thrilled to be able to share the experience together.

"It was my fault he missed," Scott said. "I was about three months old, and he didn't want to leave me with mom. We noticed about four or five years ago that if everything kept working like it was supposed to, we'd hit this together. This only is the second year we've bowled at the same time."

The Open Championships has been a family affair for the Nesbitts, with Bill's wife, LaDora, joining him for nearly every event during his five-decade journey.

"My wife has been to all of these except for two," Nesbitt said. "Those were before I met her. We've been married 48 years."

Nesbitt also has enjoyed the opportunity to travel across the country and visit new places.

"I like to travel," Nesbitt said. "I've been to some cities I probably wouldn't have been to if it hadn't been for this tournament."

In his 50th appearance, Nesbitt rolled sets of 451 in team and 270 in doubles for a 721 all-events total. He did not compete in singles. For his career, he has knocked down 72,804 pins for a 166.2 lifetime average.

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