Strike Time: Mookie’s Rolling!

Boston Red Sox superstar outfielder Mookie Betts has World Series experience — as a bowler

My parents really got me into bowling. I started when I was about three, and I pretty much grew up in a bowling alley. My mom used to bring my playpen to the alley, so that lets you know how much I was in there.

Eventually I learned how to bowl. But starting off, I would just kind of throw the ball down the lane and my mom and dad would let me figure out how to get good. One day, when I was around six or seven, my mom told me she'd take the bumpers down and if I threw it in the gutter, I'd have to quit bowling. That's how I learned to keep on the lane. My parents were not about to let me use the bumpers.

The most challenging thing for me when I began bowling was learning the mechanics. I never had a coach to teach me, so I was really raw. What I knew was just what I taught myself. There's a lot that goes into bowling that people don't know about: different hand positions, looking at all the different marks that you can throw at, or what you want the ball to do.

I've bowled, I think, seven 300 games now. It's always exciting, just because you need some luck to get so many perfect games. Sometimes you hit the right mark every time, but a lot of times it's pins falling over pins and kind of getting lucky. To bowl a 300 game, you need to bowl 12 strikes. Once you get the 11th one, you're kind of nervous. But you're here now, so you might as well just relax and roll it. The balls before the last one, they're the most nerve-racking.

Last year, I was asked if I wanted to bowl in the World Series of Bowling. Obviously I was going to say yes to that. In the World Series, you have to bowl a whole lot of games in a row. You bowl nine games a day, and that's not easy. People think bowling is just bowling, but nine games for four days in a row — that kind of wears on you.

I was surprised by how much professional bowlers go through. I didn't want to get in their way or disrespect their profession in any way. [Competing] gave me more respect for what they go through.

Whether or not I continue bowling professionally will be a game-time decision, really. But I'll keep taking my bowling seriously. I never really did go for cosmic bowling.

— as told to Dante A. Ciampaglia


Photos: Hollis Bennett (bowling), Rob Tringali/SportsChrome/Getty Images (baseball)

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