SPORTSBEAT by Peter Jakey: Nautical Lanes oldest bowler has still got it

The cheers got louder and louder as Ray Foerster started racking up the strikes at Nautical Lanes.

He is part of the senior league that meets Tuesday afternoons, and from all appearances, everyone in the building was having a good time – especially Ray.

There is a not a lot of power in his delivery, but when the ball gets on the other side of the foul line, it’s has nice action and each shot was hooking right into the 1-3 pocket. The pins were wiped clean from the lane.

By the time strike number five went down, everybody wanted to get a high-five from Nautical Lanes’ oldest bowler. He will celebrate his 95th birthday Tuesday.

The Allis Township man drives across the county two times a week to bowl in Rogers City. On Wednesday, he rolls with the Presque Isle Harbor Association League.

Tuesday, all eyes were on Ray as he went up trying to make it six in a row. The ball again had nice spin but hit the one pin high and left the 3-6-10 pins on the right side and the seven on the other. It was a lousy split. It’s not one of the tougher ones to bring down, but remember he is five years and a week short of making it to 100.

Ray, who has been bowling for 80 years, has way too much experience to be concerned about a little space between pins. He threw a nice ball, nicking the three pin to the left, but pushed it too much to the back, leaving that stubborn seven pin on the lane.

The next ball left the six and 10 in the right corner; however, he mowed them right over and put another mark on the board. Family members don’t like to bowl against him because he always wins.

“My average is 162 now, I’m slipping,” he admits. It was 170 last season. His best game was a 287, and yes, it was in Rogers City. When it occurred has been lost to the sands of time. Numbers like that never fade from memory, though.

There is nothing super natural about this senior citizen either. He works at his longevity every day, riding two miles on a stationary bike and walking a mile-and-a-half on a treadmill.

“He remains active in his church and everything he does,” said daughter Hollie Sabathos. “I think that keeps him going.”

Bowling has been in his blood for eight decades. He started setting pins at three-cents game when he was 14. His dad was part owner of a bowling alley in East Detroit. That’s when customers paid 15 cents a game.

Ray was president of the Presque Isle Council on Aging for 30 years before stepping down, but he still serves the board.