After 63-year wait, York County bowler Tim O'Donnell finally finds perfection — twice

  • Tim O'Donnell waited 63 years for his first perfect game in bowling.
  • He finally achieved the feat on Oct. 26, 2017.
  • Just a few months later, on Jan. 17, 2018, he rolled another 300 game at age 79.

Tim O'Donnell figured he would die before he rolled a 300 game.

After all, the 78-year-old right-hander had been bowling for 63 years without chalking up a perfect game. 

Tim O'Donnell

Sometimes a bucket-list item becomes unattainable.

Sure, he had had chances at a 300 game. In fact, he owned a pair of 299 games. Close, but not good enough.

The York County bowler had rolled 12 strikes in a row before, but across two games. Nice feeling, but not worthy of the record book.

O'Donnell had rolled thousands of games, all shy of perfect. He had watched teammates and opponents rack up 300 games, exchange high fives and celebrate. He had seen the elation, but he had never experienced it.

That all changed on Oct. 26, 2017. O'Donnell remembers the date as if it was his birth date. The big moment occured in the Friday Morning Seniors League at Suburban Bowlerama.

After the first nine strikes to start the first game of the morning, O'Donnell started to think about the possibility of a 300 game. He also started to get nervous.

But, he calmly added strikes 10 and 11. 

"Prior to the last ball, I'm thinking to myself, 'make sure you get the ball out over the foul line," O'Donnell said. "I knew if I was short, the ball would go high."

A lifetime dream was on the line. 

O'Donnell tried to stick to the same routine he used for the previous 11 shots. That's easier said than done. 

He approached the line, released the ball and hoped for the best. The ball was solid in the pocket, scattering all 10 pins.

The strike unleashed a flood of emotions and wiped away years of lingering frustration. Finally, O'Donnell was the center of high fives, back slaps and congratulations.

"I felt great relief," he said. "The 300 game sunk in right away. It was a great feeling."

With his bucket list a little shorter, O'Donnell figured his bowling career was complete. 

On Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018, three days after his 79th birthday, however, O'Donnell recorded his second career 300, again at Suburban Bowlerama.

"I was very surprised," he said. "I figured one 300 game in a lifetime was it for me. Who would have thought it would take me 63 years for my first 300 and three months for my second?"

O'Donnell, who is averaging 218 this season, said he was more relaxed en route to his second 300.

"I guess my advice to others is 'never give up.' You never know what will happen," he said.

This story was provided courtesy of the York County Bowling Proprietors' Association.