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If anyone can talk about the highs and lows of professional bowling, it’s Steve Jaros.
Jaros, who grew up in Bolingbrook, currently lives in Yorkville and works for Classic Products, was one of just 18 bowlers to throw a perfect 300 game on television on the Pro Bowlers Tour.
Jaros also owned the lowest televised game in television history – a 129 until Tom Daugherty bowled a 100 game.
He owns eight PBA titles and many more regional titles, has a good attitude about it.
“It’s sort of cool in a way,” Jaros said. “I have the highest and lowest games on TV. I’m on both ends of the spectrum. Nobody could say that right now except myself. Once you get to the show, you never know what’s going to happen.”
The 300 game is broadcast on ESPN Classic a couple of times a year. The 129? That can be found on YouTube – even being announced in foreign languages.
The St. Dominic Elementary School and Bolingbrook High School graduate has an interesting storyline about the 300 game, which occurred 10 years ago.
Jaros rolled the perfect game on Feb. 13, 1999 against Ricky Ward at the Holiday Bowl in Chattanooga, Tenn. The match was supposed to be taped and shown on ESPN the following day.
But there was a technical glitch in the taping process and, unbeknownst to Jaros, ESPN had no master tape to show.
“My wife (June) was pregnant at the time with our twins (Evan and Hannah) and she was at the show,” he said. “We had a motor home and we drove pretty much the whole day so that we could get home to see the show. We drove from Chattanooga to Bolingbrook and literally pulled in 20 minutes before the show was supposed to begin.
“Everyone gathered around the TV to watch the show and they were showing car crashes. We had no idea what was going on. I called the PBA right away and they told me what was going on.”
Thanks in part that the bowling center made its own copy in the production truck and some editing magic, ESPN was able to make a usable copy a few days later. It was first broadcast at 1 a.m. but has been a staple on ESPN Classic ever since.
“It’s still exciting to see it,” Jaros said. “It brings back memories. You feel like you’re right back there again. It brings me back to that moment and it will be around for years to come, even when I’m done bowling.”
On the other side of the coin…
In 1992, Jaros bowled in the World Open in Lake Zurich and made the televised finals only to roll a 129 against Mike Edwards.
“Every time someone starts struggling on the show, they bring my name up,” Jaros said. “People have been close to beating it. It was obviously a low point for me that day.”
So what happened? He failed to convert splits in two of his first four frames, threw a gutter ball and then things didn’t get much better.
“They tried to do something different with the lanes that they hadn’t done all year,” Jaros said. “They wiped the back ends of the lanes off with a towel before we went on the air. We got one (practice) shot on each lane. That was our lowest scoring tournament of the year. That’s the only time they ever did that.
“It was one of those days when everything went wrong. I missed a couple of spares. I had one bounce off my ankle and I threw it in the gutter. If that hadn’t happened, I would have been in the 140s. No matter what I tried to do, I couldn’t get anything going. The wheels fell off.”
But that’s a rare occurrence in a solid career.
He started bowling when he was 10 when his father, Ron took him to a center in Lisle and was hooked ever since. He was a fixture when Fair Lanes in Bolingbrook opened.
He bowled professionally since 1984 and his best season was 2003-04 when he won three events. He won his lone major tournament, the Tournament of Champions, in 2005.
Ron Jaros, who coached Steve early in his career, died in 1990. But Steve’s mother, Helen, helps run the J and J Bowling Supply Shop, which started in Bolingbrook and is now in Wheaton.
He’s still a top-20 bowler on a tour that has constant changes not only in equipment but tournament format as well. He’s been in the TV finals at least once in 18 consecutive seasons and entered the current season 13th on the all-time money list.
“I’ve been fortunate the last couple of season of starting quick,” Jaros said. “From a points standpoint and qualifying for the next season, that gave me a good jump start. The second halves have not been as strong as the first.
“I’m just trying to stay competitive. You look at the guys out there and you are always trying to find ways to get close to that.”
Steve has 8 PBA titles and has earned $1,412,186.00 in career earnings