Author Topic: 1981 Firestone

A very special thank you to Charlie Tapp. You made my holiday season!

The date was April 25, 1981, and for whatever reason, people out there seem to remember Steve Cook's 287 game at the 1981 Firestone. For me, it sticks out as probably one of my top 5 moments in PBA history. You had this 6' 6" huge guy making a run at perfection with a very powerful ball, something no one had seen on TV in 7 years. Cook was simply awesome that day. He self-financed his run on the PBT, and needed to win. He came out probably more focused and aggressive than anyone I had seen up to that time. He was running out strikes, and each shot was solid in the pocket. I will never ever forget the shot in the 11th when he left the 6-7 split.  It's amazing to watch something 25 years later after the fact that you have seen only once in your life. I was 15 years old at the time. Afterwards, me and my buddies got together, went to West Bloomfield Lanes (in Michigan, which sadly, is now a Barnes & Noble bookstore), and probably bowled 15 games each. What a way to end the winter season on the 1981 Pro Bowlers Tour. In fact, the show itself was an awesome show. It featured Mark Roth, Earl Anthony, Pete Couture, Gary Dickinson, and Steve Cook. In the first match between Anthony & Roth, Roth actually missed a 10 pin (to the left), which unless you saw it, you wouldn't believe it. He missed so far, it was over the 9 pin spot. Talk about nerves. In the Couture/Anthony match, they had a double roll off, tieing 205-205 then 40-40 before Couture shot 60-40. It appeared that the match ran so far behind, that they actually cut into Wide World of Sports. It's what the PBA and the Pro Bowlers Tour was all about, and perhaps that's why people remember it fondly. Thank you so much Charlie once again.

I have posted the match at youtube to share with everyone else, it's in two parts:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Here is some additional information about the match from the PBA website:

Riviera Lanes, Akron, Ohio, Apr 20-25, 1981
Cook Snaps Slump Almost Perfectly

Steve Cook was clearly the best player on the PBA Tour in the $150,000 Firestone Tournament of Champions as he threatened perfection in the championship match before settling for a 287-183 victory against Pete Couture.

Cook, a 6'6", 260 lb. southpaw, belted out 10 consecutive strikes in the championship game, each one solid in the pocket, before coming light on his eleventh attempt and leaving the 6-7 pins.

Couture had no chance against that onslaught but had performed courageously to get that far, including a double overtime win earlier in the finals.

The 5'8", 130 lb. Couture had one of two 300 games in the 16th annual Firestone and put together the top match play record of 18-5-1 in securing third place going into the championship round.

The other 300 game was by Gary Dickinson in a sixth-round match against Mark Roth in which Roth lost by two pins. The 300-298 match play clash (a record later to be broken), propelled Dickinson into second and Roth into fourth for the finals, just ahead of fifth-place qualifier Earl Anthony.

Cook, meanwhile, while never owning a large lead, came through at crucial points throughout match play and prevailed with a 218 average at Riviera Lanes. It was not only his first TV finals effort of the year but the 24-year-old had not finished above 19th all season. The slump had affected Cook's confidence to the point that he considered he might be overmatched on the pro tour and began thinking of quitting.

All that, the self doubt and the financial struggle, was to change.

Anthony defeated Roth in the first match. Anthony and Couture then rolled to a 205-205 tie, forcing a roll-off of two frames in which they each scored 40. As the almost unbearable tension mounted for both the players and viewers of the historic match, Couture rolled four straight strikes in the second roll-off and was declared the winner when Anthony missed striking on his third attempt.

Cook waited for his chance to bowl for the largest first prize on the PBA Tour. As he had done in the past in such a position, the Roseville, Calif., native determined to play aggressively, as if attacking the lane and pins much more than usual.

His first 10 shots could be mixed up and replayed out of sequence and only the sharpest bowling eye would be able to put them back in actual order. An extra $10,000 was on the line if he could come up with two more.

"But as soon as I threw that second shot in the 10th frame I knew it wasn't right," said Cook. "I thought it might have a chance to carry but I wasn't counting on it."

He didn't have to. He had already counted the $30,000 for the title.


Pos. Name, City/State Total Amount

1 Steve Cook, Roseville, Calif. 287 (1 game) $30,000
2 Pete Couture, Windsor Locks, Conn. 586 (3 games) 17,000
3 Gary Dickinson, Burleson, Texas 179 (1 game) 10,000
4 Earl Anthony, Dublin, Calif. 426 (2 games) 7,500
5 Mark Roth, Spring Lake Heights, N.J. 192 (1 game) 5,000

Alt: Larry Laub

PLAYOFF RESULTS - Anthony defeated Roth, 221-192; Couture defeated Anthony in a double roll-off, 60-40, after they tied 205-205 and 40-40 in the first two-frame roll-off; Couture defeated Dickinson, 198-179; and in the championship game Cook defeated Couture, 287-183.