Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Recreational Sports

Bowler finds perfect groove despite illness

Dick Otto, 72, tossed his first perfect game this past season to go along 
with three 700 series. Otto is also a U.S. Bowling Congress honoree.


Dick Otto, 72, tossed his first perfect game this past season to go along with three 700 series. Otto is also a U.S. Bowling Congress honoree.


It's rare to see a bowler or athlete in any sport reach his peak at the age of 72. Dick Otto, no stranger to competitive bowling, did exactly that this past season. Otto has competed in Parma, Ohio, where he used to reside, and also at Neffer's Lanes in Homosassa. He hovered around a 200 average for some time now before he spent his first season in Hernando County and Spring Hill Lanes. But Otto began to ascend into elite company on the lanes, beginning with his first U.S. Bowling Congress honor score in August. He tossed a 297 game to start off his evening in one of the first weeks of league play. He followed that game with consecutive 200s and a 734 series.

"I didn't know much about Dick (for most of the season) except that he had come down from Ohio," Monday Night Men's League teammate Ciro Verdi said. "The first night we bowled, his very first game was a 276 — he's all right in my book."

Still, Otto or any of his teammates, couldn't have known that was a sign of things to come. Powering along for most of the season with high scores and his highest-ever scoring average, Otto was satisfied.

Everything changed May 5.

In the midst of another good night knocking down pins, Otto began to feel pains in his chest. It was just mild discomfort, but enough to concern the retired senior. Upon examination by his doctor, it was determined that he would need an angioplasty, which is the technique of mechanically widening a narrowed or totally obstructed blood vessel.

"I feel good now," Otto said, "but it was definitely a scare."

Otto did his best to live his life normally and move on before what many cardiologists refer to as a routine procedure. However, he did one better only a week later. On May 12, Otto threw his first perfect game during the Monday Night Men's League at Spring Hill Lanes.

"I ended up having three stents put in the artery in the back of my heart," Otto said. "Ironically, I felt no pain at all when I shot my first 300."

The meeting with perfection came in the night's second game, following an opening 259. He then wrapped up the evening with a 198 while trying to overcome the rush of excitement from the previous game. The scores gave Otto a 757 series for the evening, one of his nine 700s this season.

After more than 50 years of competitive bowling, Otto finally reached the top of the mountain and will forever have the jewel-encrusted ring on his finger to commemorate that night.

With the support of his wife, Dee, and his ability to commit to bowling as a hobby in retirement, he shows no signs of slowing down.

"He gives me hope," Verdi, 69, said. "I haven't bowled my first 300 yet, so it makes me ecstatic to see him do something like that."

Submit feedback and story ideas to

>>Fast facts

Meet Dick Otto

Age: 72

Town: Spring Hill
USBC Achievements

297 game, Aug. 27, 2007

300 game, May 12, 2008

700 series: Nine times in 2007-08 season (including 784 and 770)

High average: 216, Monday Night Men's League, Spring Hill Lanes (2007-08)

Bowler finds perfect groove despite illness 07/21/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 22, 2008 2:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Want elite college football athletes? Recruit Tampa Bay


    Now that college football watch list season is over (I think), here's one takeaway you probably already knew: Tampa Bay produces a lot of great athletes.

    Robinson High produuct Byron Pringle has gone from this performance in a high school all-star game to all-Big 12 at Kansas State.
  2. 'Ready to win, and win big:' Dick Vitale sees Bucs going 10-6


    ESPN's Dick Vitale, whose love and optimism for Tampa Bay sports teams goes far beyond basketball, has high hopes for the Bucs in 2017.

    ESPN's Dick Vitale, shown at One Buc Place last year when he announced a Bucs draft pick, has high hopes for Tampa Bay this fall, predicting a 10-6 record for the Bucs.
  3. Rays beat Orioles, but tough stretch looms that could change their plans (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tuesday was a step back in the right direction for the Rays, who halted a season-high five-game losing streak by hanging on — and we mean that pretty much literally — for a 5-4 win over the Orioles.

    The Rays’ Tim Beckham celebrates with Mallex Smith after hitting a three-run homer in the second inning for a 5-0 lead.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    Rookie RHP Jake Faria had his lucky rubber duck — OG, the original one he has had since high school — with him, and the Rays had nothing to worry about as he put his rocky Wednesday outing well behind him, working into the eighth while scattering seven hits.