Legendary professional bowler (and triple crown Pro Bowling Association Champion) Billy Hardwick passed away last Saturday at the age of 72. He got a nice obituary in the New York Times–but it still feels as if the media has passed over the passing of one of the most underrated sports legends of our time.
Granted, bowling may not be the pro sports powerhouse that it once was because we have more interactive forms of entertainment that make throwing a ball at some pins look like that cup with the ball on the string game that orphans in Charles Dickens’ novels would kill to play with for a few minutes. However, that doesn’t make Hardwick any less of an athlete worth celebrating. He not only became the first professional bowler to win all three of the PBA’s major tournaments but he did it despite the fact that he suffered from a rare and debilitating form of arthritis at a long age and a mangled finger on one of his hands. Hell, the fact that he was able to make a living from bowling at all is a major accomplishment all by itself.
These days, however, bowling has barely been in the spotlight compared to other sports and news of his passing seemed to bury that lead under another noticeable fact about the man: He’s the father of Nerdist founder and Talking Dead and @midnight host Chris Hardwick–who wrapped up Sunday’s Talking Dead with an admittedly wonderful tribute. Of course, we’re not saying that being the father of a successful comedian isn’t something special. We’re sure that Billy was very proud of his son.
It just feels very seedy and cynical of the media to assume that our culture would assume that procreating a future celebrity would be a man’s biggest accomplishment in life the way that CNN and UPI did in the wake of the man’s death. They barely mentioned Billy’s life story and didn’t even feature a picture of the poor guy who actually passed away. They didn’t just bury the lead. They poured a layer of concrete over it and built a subdivision on top of it.
[Image via YouTube]