By KIPP HANLEY
Capital Area Bowling Association Hall of Fame member Larry Wallace doesn’t necessarily think he has an advantage when the PBA Senior Manassas Open rolls into town this weekend.
Despite working at the alley for several years, the Manassas resident plans to practice today, just like everyone else. Lanes for the amateurs are made more difficult for the professionals, says Wallace, who’s competed in his share of events in his 18-year professional career.
”If I were to rely on previous lane conditions, I would be making a mistake,” said the 56-year-old Wallace, currently managing the AMF in Centreville. ”The oil patterns are different. The oil patterns for house conditions are a little easier for amateur bowlers. … You don’t have to be as precise with your target.”
Wallace is treating this weekend’s event as a reunion of friends whom he used to bowl with on both the PBA and Senior PBA Tours. The Nebraska native competed unsuccessfully on the PBA Tour in the mid-1980s and bowled in three senior PBA events three years ago –?finishing 16th in the Syracuse Open and cashing in a tournament in Pennsylvania.
”Normally the expectation would be to win, but now that I manage a bowling center, my time is limited,” Wallace said. ”The goal in this particular tournament is not to embarrass myself.”
Growing up in Lexington, Neb. –?a town of just 6,500 people — Wallace played running back for Lexington Senior High School. However, he always followed the PBA Tour, along with some of his childhood friends.
”I guess like any other kid, we watched the bowlers on TV, and thought how cool it would be to be on TV,” Wallace said. ”I had that dream that I wanted to do that.”
After years honing his amateur skills internationally — Wallace served as an administrator in the Air Force and lived overseas — he was convinced by friends that he could make it on the tour. The first time he competed in a professional event, he won a regional title in 1985 at Denbigh Lanes in Newport News. He eventually competed in approximately 15 national events before giving up the lifestyle to work at bowling alleys in Prince William County and the surrounding area.
”It was not good and that’s of the reasons I came home,” said Wallace of his early playing days as a traveling professional. ”I went out for a while and had no success whatsoever.”
However, he did have success on the local level, winning several PBA South Regional Senior Tour titles while setting the previous Association record with an 869 three-game series. He was inducted into the Capital Area Bowling Association Hall of Fame in 1993 and has rolled 22 perfect games (300) in his career, including one last year in Manassas.
Since he recently became manager, Wallace’s focus is on the business end of the sport. However, he admits that going out on tour again could be exciting.
”If I do well [this weekend], the incentive would be to go out again but since I am fairly new at managing, my concerns for the next six months would be to really learn what I am doing as far as what a manager does,” Wallace said. ”But after it settles down, I might pursue national stops again.”
If so, he might get to ”cross” with Hall of Famer Dave Davis again. Wallace bowled next to Davis several years ago in Baltimore and it was a memorable experience for him.
”He was the one I always try to model my game after,” Wallace said. ”He was an outstanding player on tour and is in the PBA Hall of Fame. I don’t know all his stats but he was definitely one of the most recognizable names on tour. I always tried to copy my style after his. … He was left-handed too.”