Ballard's Fair Lane Open dream winds up in gutter

March 04, 1991|By Dave Glassman | Dave Glassman,Special to The Evening Sun

The Fair Lanes PBA Open in Baltimore is fast acquiring a reputation for dramatic firsts. Last year Danny Wiseman won his first tournament in his hometown. And last week Pete Weber led all qualifiers by rolling 42 consecutive games over 200 -- a PBA record.

But it was the last ball of the last frame of the tournament that stunned a full house at Fair Lanes Kings Point and a national TV audience Saturday.

After Weber finished the championship game with five strikes and a 213 score, Del Ballard Jr. needed 27 pins in the 10th frame to win. Ballard got the toughest part -- the first two strikes -- and all he had to do was knock down seven more for the $30,000 first prize. Weber sat waiting for the ax to fall.

Ballard, who throws a big hook, made his approach, released and -- the ball skidded into the right gutter.

Ballard's score remained at 207 and Weber was the victor. No PBA staffer could recall a championship ever before being decided on a last-shot gutter ball.

"I feel bad," said Weber. "You shouldn't win a title like that. I knew it could come down to me and Del. I think the person I least wanted to face was Del."

And Ballard, when it was over, least wanted to face himself.

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