Diamond shines with 60th appearance at USBC Open Championships

LAS VEGAS – The importance of family and a love for bowling is easy to pickup when you’re around Dale Diamond of Chatham, Illinois, and both were on display as he celebrated his 60th appearance at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships.

The 82-year-old became the 33rd bowler in the 120-year history of the tournament to reach the participation milestone with his appearance Saturday at the South Point Bowling Plaza, and he received a plaque, chevron and engraved money clip to commemorate his longevity at the event.

He was joined by his wife, Janann, during his on-lane presentation, and he was surrounded by family while competing in Las Vegas. In addition to Diamond reaching 60 years at the tournament, he and Janann also will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary in June.

Diamond’s team featured his four children – Brett Diamond, Anne McTague, Amy Adams and Jill Diamond – and his companion team over the weekend included his brother (Dean Diamond), nephew (Grant Diamond), niece (Jessi Holmes) and son-in-laws (Patrick Stevenson and Kevin McTague).

His children also bowled with him during his 40th appearance at the USBC Open Championships in 2003.

“This was awesome,” Diamond said. “The year I bowled my 40th tournament, I had my kids bowl with me just to do it, and it was by far the most enjoyable one. The family aspect of it was the best part. I asked the kids if they wanted to do it again like they did 20 years ago, and they said yes. The son-in-laws wanted to bowl, so we decided to have a companion team and it was family, too. My niece’s husband is bowling doubles and singles in place of Dean as well, so there’s 11 family members who are bowling this year.”

Dale Diamond and his family at the USBC Open Championships
Photo provided by Diamond family.

Diamond made his first appearance at the Open Championships in his home state of Iowa in 1962 (Des Moines), and he’s made his annual trip to the tournament each year since 1967.

His passion for the sport started at an early age, and he got involved on the administrative side of the sport through his work in the Greater Iowa Bowling Association.

“I bowled a 300 game when I was 21, and nobody bowled 300 games back then,” Diamond said. “That and bowling the ABC tournament really hooked me into being a bowler.

“I’m also a detail person, and I started the Greater Iowa and ran it for 17 years. It was my labor of love. I gave out a booklet at the end of every year with so many statistics, and everything was on a 3x5 index card. I can remember spending hours at night doing nothing but that paperwork for Greater Iowa. We would have nine scratch tournaments for the state of Iowa each year, with two on one side of the state, two on the other side and five centrally located so everybody in the state had an option to bowl if they wanted to. When I moved to Illinois, Joe Engelkes took over, and he’s taken it to higher levels than I ever did, but it was one of my labors of love when I got into the bowling business. Bowling is my life.”

Diamond also has spent many years as a league and association secretary, and in 1977, he was elected to serve as the American Bowling Congress (ABC) director for the state of Iowa.

In 1980, he bought the bowling center in his hometown of Cedar Falls, Iowa – Valley Park Lanes – and picked up a second center in Mason City, Iowa, in 1982 – Rose Bowl Lanes. He sold both centers before moving to Illinois in the late 1980s to work in the restaurant business, but his love of the sport never dwindled.

He was recognized for his dedication to the sport in Iowa with inductions to the Cedar Falls Bowling (now Greater Cedar Valley USBC) and Iowa State USBC Halls of Fame, and in Illinois, he’s a member of the Greater Springfield USBC (now Central Illinois USBC) Hall of Fame.

Diamond has compiled some impressive statistics during his time at the Open Championships, too.

He rolled a 298 game during his doubles set at the 1989 event in Wichita, Kansas, and posted a 738 series in singles during the 1993 tournament in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on the way to his top all-events score of 1,906.

At the 2022 Open Championships in Las Vegas, Diamond helped his team record a third-place finish in the Standard Division.

The next number on Diamond’s radar also would place him in an exclusive club in tournament history. He entered the 2024 event with a career pinfall of 97,048, and after posting 1,537 during his time on the lanes this weekend at the Bowling Plaza, Diamond is just 1,415 pins away from joining the 100,000-Pin Club at the Open Championships.

He now sits at 98,585 pins for a lifetime average of 182.5.

“It could be next year,” Diamond said after his team event. “If I get 1,500 this year, I won’t need 1,500 next year. My teammate Chris Walcher told me I’m going to make it next year, but I don’t think so – I think it’ll be the year after when it’s cut and dry, because I’m going to have to perform to make it next year.”

Diamond is one of four bowlers scheduled to reach 60 years during the 2024 Open Championships.

John Kerpan of Waukegan, Illinois, is scheduled to make his milestone appearance May 4, and Robert Brissette of Petersburg, Michigan, is scheduled to follow May 6. Wayne Hutchinson of Franklin Park, Illinois, is scheduled for his 60th appearance May 24.

The 2024 Open Championships got underway Feb. 23 and will run through July 29 at the South Point Bowling Plaza. The tournament is scheduled to feature more than 11,000 teams and 55,000 bowlers making their way to compete in Las Vegas.

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