Earlier this month, local resident Michael Swearingen was inducted into the Ohio Bowling Council’s Bowling Hall of Fame. Swearingen, an avid bowler for over 50 years, first began bowling, on a regular basis, in the early 1960’s. Now, after a bowling career that has spanned through six decades, and continues to this day, Swearingen can now call himself a Hall of Famer.
For the past 28 years the Ohio Bowling Council (OBC) has been honoring the best bowlers in the state, in three different categories, Meritorious Service, Superior Performance, and Pioneer.
To be inducted as a Pioneer bowler, nominees must be at least 60 years old, and have outstanding bowling accomplishments, which are worthy of being labeled a superior performance, prior to the creation of the OBC Hall of Fame. Nominees are also judged on outstanding service to the sport as well, according to the OBC.
Swearingen has had no trouble meeting any of those requirements, as he has had numerous, superior performance worthy, accomplishments over his extensive bowling career.
His bowling skills have been witnessed by many in the area. For nearly 20 years, Swearingen was the highest averaged bowler in the Portsmouth area. His average stayed above 200 for 20 consecutive years, which was higher than the standard set for professional bowlers, at 190.
On two separate occasions, Swearingen has bowled an 804 series, his highest ever series. The first time he bowled an 804 series was in 1991. He would hit that mark again six years later, in 1997. Swearingen was the first person in the area to hit the 800 series benchmark in the area.
More firsts for Swearingen include being the first person in the area to bowl more than one perfect game. The 300 game, has been a standard of excellence for bowlers, and one that Swearingen has hit multiple times.
Swearingen has appeared in many professional tournaments, bowling with some of the greatest bowlers of all time. He has also bowled in tournaments in 29 states throughout the country.
Aside from personal accomplisments on the lanes, Swearingen has given back to the sport he loves. He has served on the Ohio State USBC BA Board. His served several positions on the board, director, committee chair, and even President. He was the first person to ever serve more than one term as President.
Michael has even helped develop a league for blind bowlers, through his work with the Portsmouth Lions Club.
At the age of 79, Swearingen is still an active bowler. He currently bowls in four separate senior level leagues in the Portsmouth area.
Although he hasn’t been able to officially confirm who nominated him for this position, Swearingen believes it was one of his long time bowling friends, Jim Hufferd.
“I think I know who it was, but he won’t admit to doing it,” Swearingen said.
After spending a lifetime bowling, Swearingen said he is still motivated by the pursuit of a high score.
“I don’t care how long you go, you want to shoot high scores,” Swearingen said. “I bowled my last 300 game when I was 70 and a half. I’ll be 80 on my next birthday, in July. I’m going to try like the Dickens and try to squeeze one in there.”
Swearingen has 12 career perfect, 300 games.
He continues to encourage people to bowl, as well as helping out and giving pointers when he can.
“I’ve had a lot of fun down through the years,” Swearingen said. “It has been remarkable, the number of nice people I’ve met, and being able to travel all over the country. I would have never been able to do that, had it not been for bowling.”
“I never thought about being a pioneer in bowling, but I guess you have to start somewhere,” Swearingen added with a laugh.
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext 1931 or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82.
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