Perfect tribute: Illinois bowler rolls 300 game with father’s ashes in ball

PEORIA, Ill. — It was perfection in Peoria for a longtime bowler.

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John Hinkle is no stranger to rolling 300 games. He won a pair of NCAA bowling championships while competing for Western Illinois 20 years ago. But on April 12, he had a special ball when he rolled a 300 -- the thumb hole contained the ashes of his father, who came close but never had a perfect game.

“I had tears in my eyes in the 11th and 12th frames,” Hinkle told WMBD. “I couldn’t tell you where that last ball went, I had so many tears just throwing it.”

Hinkle threw the perfecto during his regular league night at Peoria’s Landmark Lanes, the television station reported.

John Hinkle’s father, John Hinkle Sr., died July 27, 2016, in Peoria, according to his obituary. The 62-year-old bowled in the American Legion League at Landmark Lanes for more than 30 years, according to his obituary.

“It’s special. Dad shot 298, 299, never had a 300. I had goosebumps, chills,” John Hinkle Jr., 39, told WMBD. “He was there. This is the best (300 game), and definitely the hardest. I was shaking.”

The younger Hinkle bowls two-handed. To do that legally, a competitor cannot have three-finger holes in his ball, WMBD reported. Hinkle wanted to get his father’s ashes placed in a bowling ball, and last week it finally happened.

On April 12, Hinkle used the special ball for the first time.

“I was talking to my brother (Joe Hinkle) and told him, ‘I’m shooting a 300 with this ball,” Hinkle told WMBD. “And Joe said, ‘Do it!’”

John Hinkle Sr. taught his sons how to bowl when they were youths. The brothers have bowled on the same team for years, the television station reported.

“This makes up for so many nights growing up when we slept in a bowling alley while our parents were finishing league night,” Joe Hinkle told WMBD.