Reporting from the U.S. National Senior Sports Classic, aka the Senior Olympics, in May 1997 in Tucson.
Here’s the story as it appeared in The Arizona Daily Star:
For bowler, 89, good times continue to roll
By Ed M. Odeven
Special to The Arizona Daily Star
Once Joe Norris finds something he likes, he sticks with it.
In 1925, he fell in love with bowling while working as a pin setter at an old-fashioned manual alley in Detroit.
It’s a love affair that has lasted nearly 72 years and produced an illustrious career.
Norris, 89, teamed up with Andy Gagliano yesterday morning to capture the 85-89 doubles championship at Fiesta Lanes, then bowled 191, 186 and 208 in the opening round of singles competition in the afternoon at Lucky Strike Lanes.
It was just another day at the office for the San Diego resident, who won numerous tournaments over the years as a high-caliber amateur. The doubles gold medal will be added to his collection of approximately 180 medals and trophies.
Norris never officially turned pro, but that didn’t stop him from becoming a household name.
He has been voted into seven halls of fame, including one he can’t remember.
He was named to the American Bowling Congress Hall of Fame in 1954. He was also voted into the Detroit City Hall of Fame, the Michigan State Hall of Fame, the Sportsmen’s Hall of Fame (Bradenton, Fla.), the Southern California Hall of Fame and the San Diego Bowling Hall of Fame.
Norris used to bowl 75 to 100 games a week, and he proudly remembers the days when he carried a whopping 226 average.
Norris has 13 perfect games to his credit. He also has rolled eight 299s, two 298s, one 297 and one 296.
Despite all of this, Norris is more proud of one accomplishment.
“In 1934, I went to Stroh’s to go get me a beer and I got them to sponsor the team,” he said. “That was the year we won the American Bowling Congress team championship. You see, that’s a title that every bowler would like to get — an ABC championship. That’s No.1.”
He retired in 1963 from Brunswick Lanes, where he worked for ABC as a lane installation supervisor, a job that took him all over the country.
“I bowled in so many darn places,” he said. “When I was in charge of putting the lanes in, I would be on location for three months, and then I would bowl in that city.”
These days, Norris averages 190 and relies on experience and knowledge to beat the competition, but he plays less — nowadays, it’s between 15 and 20 games a week. He also organizes, promotes and plays in a senior bowling league called the Joe Norris Trio.
But he still puts together some extraordinary games. At age 86, he set an American Bowling Congress record for being the oldest man to bowl 300.
“In 72 years, you better have some good games,” Norris said.
He certain has.