Missouri's Clancy Mueller joins 100,000-Pin Club at USBC Open Championships

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By Nick Bonsanto and Aaron Smith
USBC Communications

- Clancy Mueller of St. Charles, Missouri, added to his legacy at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships as he became the 25th bowler to reach 100,000 pins for his career Friday at the South Point Bowling Plaza.

The 85-year-old right-hander entered his third game of doubles needing two pins to secure the milestone, and he delivered an eight count, leaving a 6-10 combination, and converted the spare as he was welcomed to one of the tournament's most elite clubs.

Mueller, a St. Louis USBC Hall of Famer, was presented with the coveted crystal pin awarded to members of the 100,000-Pin Club at the USBC Open Championships after he finished the frame, and with his 61st appearance now complete, he has toppled 100,671 pins for a lifetime average of 183.3.

Needing 845 pins at the 2022 event to achieve the feat, Mueller rolled sets of 545 in team, 437 in doubles and 534 in singles for a 1,516 all-events total.

"I was pressing, no doubt about it," Mueller said about his nerves leading up to the moment. "There isn't much I haven't accomplished in bowling for a so-so bowler, and to do this is really quite a deal for me. I'm really just happy to be here."

After buying his first bowling ball in 1951 (he still can recite the serial number), Mueller made his debut at the Open Championships four years later, taking to the championship lanes in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1955.

He made his second appearance at the 1959 event in his hometown of St. Louis, finishing with a 1,858 all-events total.

By the time, however, Mueller was beginning to build his own reputation as part of the incredible bowling community found in the Gateway to the West.

"Bill Lillard and Glenn Allison, I bowled against them back in the late 50s and early 60s," Mueller said. "We had the traveling league in St. Louis, with teams like the Falstaffs and Budweisers, and they were no walk in the park. We had the pleasure of beating the Budweisers in four of six matches. We were the only team in the league that ever beat them.

"They were a swell bunch of people. When we bowled league, the rule was you had to go to the bathroom before you bowled, because it took too long to go and come back through the crowds. It always was wall to wall when the Budweisers bowled."

Mueller continued to impress at the Open Championships as he began to collect additional appearances and pinfall, posting a 298 game on the way to his top all-events total at the event (1,927) at the 2002 event in Billings, Montana.

During his 50th appearance at the 2010 event in Reno, Nevada, he recorded three 600-plus sets on the way to a 1,866 performance.

He became the 28th bowler in tournament history to reach 60 years at the event last year at South Point, and now is one of 32 to achieve six decades on the championship lanes over 118 editions of the Open Championships.

Along the way, his family has been instrumental in supporting him as he has left his mark on the event. His wife, Joann, often traveled with him to the event, and his children - Linda, Terri, Larry and Tony - have been in attendance for several of his milestone appearances at the tournament.

"Family played a big part in this for me," Mueller said. "I lost my wife 10 years ago, but she was a bowler and that's where we met - in a bowling alley. We bought the bowling alley we met in before we married. The first time we bowled together, we won. It was a mixed doubles tournament, and the rest is history."

Mueller looks forward to continuing to add to his lifetime pinfall at the event next year in Reno, and he'll also be recognized among the elite players in tournament history who have reached 100,000 pins on the record banners that will be hanging at the National Bowling Stadium.

"I'll be back for as long as I can," Mueller said. "Just to be mentioned in the company with those people, yes, I'll be excited to see my name up there. It'll be a conversation piece."

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