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KCK man bowls a 300 game at age 85 two years after heart surgery

Updated: 2013-12-25T01:47:29Z

By KATHLEEN GIER

The Kansas City Star

James Yankovich still remembers the first time he bowled. He’d never done it growing up, but in 1951 when he was serving in the Army in Temple, Texas, he decided to give it a go. He bowled a 179 in his first game.

He didn’t bowl again till he joined a league in Kansas City in 1989, but he hasn’t stopped since. Not even open-heart surgery in October 2011 could keep him away from the game for more than his required eight weeks.

Now, just more than two years after his surgery, the 85-year-old Yankovich accomplished the ultimate bowling feat with a perfect 300 game on Sunday afternoon at KC Bowl in Kansas City, Kan.

“I finally did it after all these years,” said Yankovich, of Kansas City, Kan. “I got another strike and another strike and all of a sudden I’m down to the last strike and not excited a bit, just went up there, had fun with the guys, talked, joked and threw the ball down and every ball was in the pocket like I knew what I was doing.”

Yankovich said the celebration was quiet, just a round of cheers from his buddies, a couple of high-fives and congratulations from the workers at the desk. However, once the leagues start back up after the holidays and the word spreads, he expects more excitement.

“I’m not too excited yet, but I will be,” Yankovich said. “When they hear about what I’ve done, I’ve got bragging rights now.”

Yankovich said he came close to 300 one other time, bowling a 288 about eight years ago, but he missed a couple of pins on the last frame.

Prior to his big accomplishment over the weekend, he said his numbers had been down this year, but he’s hoping this changes the trend.

Yankovich bowls in two different leagues, one on Tuesdays and one on Thursdays, bowling three games in each.

Then, every Sunday at noon, he and a group of two to six men gather to bowl a casual 10 games.

“It’s a fun game, I really enjoy it,” Yankovich said. “It’s been a big part of my life.”

| Kathleen Gier, kgier@kcstar.com

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