Resting on a shelf in the Serra Bowl general manager’s office sits a discolored bowling pin.
It was 40 years ago — May 29, 1971 — that the pin was collected by Mike Leong at Downtown Bowl. The 15-year-old junior league bowler had just completed a 299 game at the now defunct Tenderloin district alley, with this 3-pin the only thing separating the boy from a perfect game.
“I started crying,” said Leong, now the Serra Bowl GM. “I thought that I’d never get a chance to throw a 300 game again.”
The San Francisco native and Washington High School graduate went on to roll 13 300 games in addition to six 800 three-game series. These accomplishments, in addition to maintaining a 200-plus average over a span of 40 years has landed Leong a spot in the San Francisco United States Bowling Congress Hall of Fame.
“It’s quite an honor, one that I would have never thought,” Leong said as he looks forward to the July 16 induction ceremony at Nick’s Rockaway Beach in Pacifica. “I guess I never really considered myself to be that good. And, I think that if you’re in the Hall of Fame of anything, you’re pretty good.”
Elected on the basis of “superior performance,” Leong could have just as easily been inducted in the “meritorious service” category.
The kid who was bused from his parents’ Richmond district house to some of the tougher schools in San Francisco while being dominated at home by an overbearing older brother, is committed to helping youth in the community.
Leong, who also serves as Bowling Management Group VP, 20 years ago created Kops and Kids Day at Serra Bowl.
“I first put this together to get kids not to fear police officers, but to look at them as people,” said the 55-year-old divorced father of two. “After I spoke to the chiefs of police, I realized that they liked it too, as the officers got to see that there are nice kids out there. It got to be a two-way street.”
The June 4 event is also the annual kickoff for the “Kids Bowl Free” program, inviting Bay Area youth to participate in a free, fun activity during the summer months.
The weekend following Kops and Kids Day, Leong, who had knee surgery on April 20, will return to competition sooner than expected in Reno at the National Tournament.
Leong bowled his most recent 800 series in February of last year, less than two years removed from kidney cancer recovery.
WHERE: Serra Bowl, 3301 Junipero Serra Blvd., Daly City
WHEN: June 4, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
WHAT: Free bowling and “dramatic displays of fire and police equipment”
INFO: www.serrabowl.com or (415) 992-3444
FREE PROGRAM: “Kids Bowl Free” program available at Serra Bowl in Daly City and Bel Mateo Bowl in San Mateo