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HITTING THE POCKET WELL

Bowlboy1

Earlier this year, 39-year-old Billy K. Sims became the 50th bowler elected to the Monmouth County USBC Bowling Association Hall of Fame, a 73-year-old organization. A six-foot-five lefty who lives in the Oak Hill section of Middletown, Sims was county Bowler of the Year in 2001. He’s rolled 35 perfect games, 24 series of 800, and tallied 11-strikes-in-a-row 10 times.

We met up with Sims recently at Memory Lanes in Red Bank and watched him knock down our ten Human Bites questions without breaking a sweat.

What do you do for a living?
I’m a printer at a business forms company in Cranford.

Do you bowl for prize money?
Yeah, there’s pots and prize money in the leagues, stuff like that. Not a lot. Just enough to keep you going. If you bowl really well, depending on the league, you can walk out at the end of a night with a couple hundred bucks. You basically want to win enough to keep paying for it, so you don’t have any out-of-pocket money. That’s basically all I try to do.

I bowled one PBA stop like 10 years ago at Carolier. It was a lot of fun. You realize how good those guys really are.

I know people who can still describe in some detail the first time they entered a movie theater, or the first time they entered Yankee Stadium. Do you remember your first experience of walking into a bowling alley?
No, not at all. It was so long ago. It was probably when I was about five that my uncle took me. There were probably lots of cigarettes back then. Since I was 9, I’ve been bowling.

Are you a competitive guy?
Ugh. Yeah. Very competitive. Losing’s not bad. If I lose because of my own doing, I get mad at myself. But you can’t really get mad at anybody else. I second-guess myself a lot.

Do you dream about bowling?
No. No. Once I’m outside the bowling alley, I try not to think about it, because I am so competitive, I don’t want to think about it or even talk about it. Last year, I was in a bowling alley like four nights a week. It’s basically you get home from work, you shower, and you go bowling. It gets to be too much.

Strike

So I guess you don’t have bowling nightmares.
I have more nightmares about it than dreams. You get beat in a tournament, and you just relive it over and over again. But nothing major.

If you’re not watching someone bowl, can you tell if they hit a strike or a spare by the sound?
You can tell if they hit the pocket well. You can leave a lot of corner pins if you throw it well. But you can definitely tell if somebody throws it well. It’s a lot louder.

How much does your ball weigh?
Sixteen pounds, that’s the max. It’s got a good hook. People tell me I throw a big hook. That’s a good thing. As long as you can control it, that’s a good thing. What it does is create a better angle to hit the pokect. Bowling’s basically geometry. You just have to figure out angles to carry the corner pins. The corner pins are the tough ones. For righties it’s the ten pin, for lefties it’s the seven pin.

What are your goals as a bowler now?
Growing up, I wanted to shoot 300, and I wound up doing that by the time I was 20. Then it was to bowl 800 — that’s averaging 267 over three games; 800 is harder, because you have to bowl well over three games, even if you have a miss, whereas for a 300 you only have to bowl well for one game. Let’s see, then I won titles, then bowler of the year, and now the hall of fame. That was definitely a goal. It means a lot to me. It’s an honor, if there are only 50 people in it.

Now I just try to bowl with my friends in the tournaments and win titles. Other than that, I don’t really have goals.

Finally, which is more important, comfortable shoes or good food?
Look at the size of me! I’m going to have to say good food.

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