Sage's advice leads to perfect game

? Son credits dad for his 12-strike game last week at Forest Park's Circle Lanes.

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The phone call Cliff Sage got at 2 a.m. last Wednesday may have disrupted his sleep. But it lifted his spirits during a business trip. Sage's son Chris had some news to share with his father that simply could not wait until morning.

Chris had just bowled the round of a lifetime?#34;12 strikes on 12 rolls. A perfect game. 300. There was no one in the world Chris more wanted to share his joy than his father, his bowling partner and teacher.

"He did not say one word about it being late. He knew everything I was feeling, that I was shaking in disbelief and going crazy," Chris Sage said.

It was only a year and a half ago that Chris Sage, then 18, began to take bowling seriously. Chris and his father joined a weekly bowling league at Circle Lanes in Forest Park. For the Oak Park pair, league night became a father-son bowling tutorial.

"Every single time I bowled he would give me little pointers here and there. That is what made me the bowler that I am. I owe him the credit," Sage said of his father.

A perfect game is no shabby accomplishment. Last bowling season, there were 40,000 perfect games nationally (including professionals). Three of them came at Circle Lanes.

"It is a lifetime bowling accomplishment for most people," said Jason Weidler, Circle's manager. Weidler was particularly impressed that Sage was able to roll a perfect game at such a young age. "Most kids when they bowl as a kid they do it for fun. The fact that he (Chris) has done this so young shows he has learned the game quickly."

When Chris walked into Circle last Tuesday evening, he had no idea what was about to happen.

I did what I could never expect. I didn't think I could possibly do it," Sage said. It wasn't until midway through his round that Sage realized something special might be on the horizon. As the number of strikes mounted so did the crowds and pressure.

"The strikes kept coming pretty easily until the 9th frame, the last four were the hardest," Sage said. When it was all said and done, he fell to the floor shaking and shocked with what had just happened. It could have been skill or luck, conceivably a combination of the two.  One thing is for certain, it is perfection.

"Any of those strikes I could have thrown a perfect ball and it still could have left pins up," Sage said. 

Sage has framed his score sheet. His name will be placed on the honor board at Circle Lanes.  However, the finest memento he will have of his triumph is a sense of pride and accomplishment.

"My bowling career is the biggest thing that ever happened to me.  I am really proud I could learn something so well," he said.

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