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-Editorial: Tribute to Joe Norris

02/21/2001 - By George Freeman

      In an era where politics and maneuvering dominate the sport today, Joe Norris was an example of what is good and right in our sport. 71 times he walked down the center aisle in the ABC National Championships, missing only once (not counting World War II). The physical aspects of his ABC Tournament career are staggering enough: 192 average in 71 years of bowling, all time pinfall leader with 123,770 pins, 3 Eagles, and 8 Hall of Fame inductions. What is more impressive is the manner in which he carried himself during his long career. He was always approachable, always positive, and always a gentleman. He was able to be all these things and still be a fierce competitor, proving that you don't have to be a wild man or a bad guy to be competitive. He was every inch a warrior, and he never gave up, and you very seldom saw him without a smile on his face. In last month's Bowlers Journal International, there is a story about a phone call Norris received from another fierce competitor, Dick Weber, who has been a PBA champion in 5 different decades, asking Norris to bowl again this year in Reno at the National Bowling Stadium. Norris told Weber he'd be better off not bowling doubles with him, because Weber was still bowling good, and Norris wasn't. Weber told him he didn't care, he wanted to bowl with him. That says something about the kind of man both men are.

      We could all learn something from Joe Norris, the only thing bigger than his drive to compete and do well was his heart. It's hard to believe that a heart that big could ever stop beating. We will miss you Joe.


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