Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mark Roth's Burning Desire

We both need to have a little fun, and nothing could be better than for him to have a chance to spend some time with his second family. After all, Mark Roth is bowling, and bowling is Mark Roth.”
--Denise Roth

Mark Roth changed bowling more than anyone who came before or after him. At least this is what many say, and I can't think of one good reason to disagree. Roth's "grip-it-and-and-rip-it" technique ushered in the power game so prevalent and generally dominant on tour and in our local bowling establishments today.

For how could a youngster or not-so-youngster fail to be drawn and dazzled by the romping, stomping seven-step approach, the explosive release, the ball that crossed more boards than a polyester ball of that era had any right to cross, and by the way the violent speed and rotation of that ball flung pins all over the deck with unprecedented fury? Mark Roth was exciting. He was captivating. He was literally a game changer.

But a catastrophic stroke last May 31 reduced this lion of the lanes to, at least on the outside, a shell of his former self and has kept him struggling desperately just to stay alive and out of the hospital ever since. And to compound his and his family's misery, he has no health insurance and has had to rely on the kindness of strangers, friends, and titans of the bowling industry to help defray the ever-escalating costs of his never-ending medical treatment and rehabilitation complicated by diabetes and heart disease.

Some of that kindness will come from donations from sales of bowling balls commemorating the Mark Roth Plastic Ball Championship next week, and it was with great joy that I learned that Roth himself plans to attend the event. As reported in an article appearing yesterday on, the tournament has ignited the flame of Mark Roth's indomitable will to overcome his illness and debility enough to show up in a wheelchair at the AMF Babylon Lanes in West Babylon, N.Y. next week, and he's progressed from almost daily emergency trips to the hospital to six weeks of being hospital free and relentless in his efforts to steel and strengthen himself for the trip.

"Most of his facial paralysis is gone. Most of his speech is back and pretty clear. He’s had a lot of problem with his left shoulder, hand, arm, but he’s going to get a Botox treatment that will help him make the trip to Long Island. He has been working so diligently just to get to that tournament. He doesn’t want to miss it," reports his wife Denise. “I think people will be surprised to see how well he does look at this point. About six weeks ago, it seemed pretty hopeless.”

I am profoundly moved by his determination. Mark Roth has inspired countless millions with his bowling. Though his bowling days are decidedly over, perhaps he can now inspire millions more even more next week.


  1. When I read about how much Mark Roth's stroke affected him, I am thankful that the stroke which I suffered on December 23, 2004 was not nearly as severe as his was. When I had mine, I was unable to stand or walk for 3 days but after that period, I was able to start walking again. While my brain still doesn't have full control of my right arem, most people don't realize that I have suffered a major stroke. It was several months after the stroke before I could actually bowl any at all and finally was able to raise my average to around 170. That was really hard to accept when I had been averaging 220 in two leagues before the stroke.
    I saw that had a place to donate mone to Mark's cause and made a donation as soon as I saw it. Go here to donate if you can - . I am sure that they can still use our help.
    Another thing, make sure that you try to prevent the same thing happening to you by keeping an eye on your blood pressure!

  2. It seems almost miraculous that you rebounded as well as you did as quickly as you did. Furthermore, I continue to respect and admire how gracefully you handle what must be the constant frustrations you face on the lanes, especially given your former bowling successes and triumphs. Perhaps there are ways to compensate at least in part for your loss of control over your right arm, and if what I saw the other night is any indication, perhaps you're beginning to regain more of that control already or to find ways of your own to compensate.

    Thanks for posting the Bowlers Paradise link and for your advice about keeping one's blood pressure in check.

  3. Having been a Libertarian for 35 years it is very difficult to endorse national health care, but I now feel I must. No I don't like the plan in Congress now and would not vote for it, but something needs to be done. I know more and more people like Mark that are bankrupted by illness, even some who thought they had good health insurance. So many are afraid of the expense of going to the doctor at all that they ignore danger signs until it is too late.

  4. Jim, the way I see it, we have a fundamental right to accessible and affordable health care regardless of where or even whether we're employed and whether or not we have pre-existing conditions in just the same way that we have a fundamental right to be protected from enemy attack, crime, and fire and other disasters. And I don't see how this right can be enforced without the government taking a much more active role in it than it has. I personally support a single payer nationalized system--Medicare for all, if you will. But if we can't have that, at least not yet, I don't see a viable and even minimally effective alternative to the current bill.

  5. No two-handed bowling period. Bowling was intended to be a one hand one arm sport. Two handed bowling is absolutely absurd. Please change the rule, it is only the right thing to do before this thing gets out of hand. Wearing a bowling glove...??? Same thing, totally absurd. Pete Weber...please remove your glove and don't be such a panzy.....step up to the plate and be a man, and the same goes for the kiddie, wimpy, two handed bowlers....GET A LIFE !!!!