I've heard plenty of good things about Mark Roth's recovery from the devastating stroke he suffered in May 2009.
But I didn't realize just how far he'd come until reading this PBA news release put out Friday.
It reports that the Hall of Famer is bowling again and even passed his driver's test.
"I've gone from a point where they thought I would never walk again to where I can bowl three games at a time using a 12-pound ball," Roth said in the release. "I can use a 15-pound urethane ball for a few frames, but I'm not able to keep the speed up and it hooks off the lane."
I grew up in the era dominated by Roth, Earl Anthony and Marshall Holman and it's hard to describe what a thrill it is to compete against your heroes, as I had a chance to do when I went on the PBA Tour.
I'll never forget Roth making me laugh on the one of the lowest days of my bowling career. I was in the top five after two of three rounds of qualifying in the 1988 PBA Tour stop in Milwaukee, effectively my hometown event. But I woke up on Thursday morning for the third round — and presumably the first round of match play later that day — with a wrist is even more stiff and sore than usual and plunged out of the top 24. (I would be having wrist operation two of three less than a year later.)
I ran into Roth a bit after that horrific third round ended at Red Carpet Celebrity Lanes and said to him, "Well at least I tied Mark Roth" (for 30th, if I recall correctly).
With a glint in his eye, he replied, "No, I tied Jeff Richgels."
I think that was the only time I smiled that day.
It's certainly appropriate to celebrate the legend's recovery on the day the Mark Roth Plastic Ball Championship title will be decided: the PBA Tour event's stepladder finals airs at noon Central time on ESPN.