For more than three decades, Bob Bittner dreamed of bowling a perfect game. He did so this week and died of a heart attack.
Bittner, 40, collapsed at Fairlanes Skore about 15 minutes after bowling his first perfect game in 31 years of participating in the sport. He was pronounced dead at a hospital within 30 minutes of his moment of triumph.His lack of a 300 game before Monday was a curiosity and a frustration, friends said. He was one of the best bowlers in the Detroit All-Star Classic leagues. He had four 800 series and had league-leading averages.
But in an era when 300 games flourished, perfection escaped his grasp.
He never gave up.
When Bittner stepped up for the final frame of his perfect game, he was the only one on the lanes.
"Everyone was cheering for him," said Dan Konwinski, league secretary. "Because of a delay at the start of their game, he was the last one in the league to bowl."
After Bittner got the three strikes in the 10th, the spectators joined his teammates in congratulating him.
"Everyone was asking him how many perfect games that made," said Konwinski. " `That's my first,' " Bittner said softly, Konwinski recalled Wednesday.
At first, some people attributed Bittner's low-key reaction to disappointment that his team had lost a key game by a pin.
"We noticed that he looked a little white," Konwinski said. "Someone brought him a chair and he sat down. Then his head dropped down."