Pennsylvania bowler first to celebrate 50 years of participation during 2021 USBC Open Championships

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By Ronald Kirsh
USBC Communications

LAS VEGAS -
Good health, good friends and a love of bowling. That's what keeps bringing Robert Montgomery Jr. coming back to the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships year after year.

This year's event at South Point was extra special, as Montgomery celebrated his 50th consecutive year on the tournament lanes. He was the first of 25 bowlers slated to reach the milestone this year, and his appearance came on the second day of the 79-day event.

For his accomplishment Sunday, the 69-year-old right-hander received a chevron, plaque and diamond lapel pin prior to the start of his team event.MontgomeryAwardsForWeb300x169

"It's humbling to get all of this incredible recognition for something I really just love to do," Montgomery said. "Sharing this with my team and so many friends I have met over the years is an amazing feeling."

Montgomery, a house painter from Erie, Pennsylvania, remembers first stepping onto the lanes in his USBC Open Championships debut at the 1971 tournament in Detroit. Little did he know at the time how the sport would be such an important part of his life.

"I've always loved to compete," Montgomery added. "Even before my first Open Championships, I participated in the Erie Times-News Flagship Open that began in 1964. Erie is such a wonderful bowling community, and I was excited to experience the sport nationwide."

To put everything into perspective, over his previous 49 tournaments, Montgomery bowled a total of 441 games, knocking down 81,391 pins in the process.

The Open Championships has taken Montgomery from coast to coast, from Tampa, Florida, to Long Beach, California. At last count, he has been to 27 cities in between.

This year in Las Vegas, he is thrilled to see a new generation enjoying the game he loves so much.

"Bowling is in great hands," Montgomery said. "The game is becoming more exciting for everyone involved."

Is Montgomery looking forward to this new excitement? Absolutely.

He also has an eye on the future and feels that matching the Open Championships record of 71 appearances is attainable. The record is shared by a pair of USBC Hall of Famers - Bill Doehrman and Joe Norris, along with Sylvester Thiel.

This year on the championship lanes, the Erie District Bowling Association Hall of Famer rolled sets of 501 in team and 476 in doubles to increase his career pinfall to 82,368.

Along with the 25 bowlers scheduled to celebrate 50 years of participation this year in Las Vegas, two more will reach 60 years, and USBC Hall of Famer Bob Hart Sr. will become the newest member of the elite 65-Year Club.

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