Vicksburg’s Strange set for induction to bowling hall of fame

Published 8:00 am Saturday, July 24, 2021

Two years ago, Jackie Strange was honored for a lifetime of service to the bowling community by being elected to the Southern Bowling Congress Hall of Fame.

Making it official has taken longer than he ever expected.

The induction ceremony was postponed three times in 2020, in three different states, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the various restrictions on large gatherings. Finally, he hopes, Strange will be recognized next month when the SBC’s Hall of Fame Class of 2020 is inducted at the organization’s annual meeting in Jackson.

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“To me, it’s worth it,” Strange said of the long wait between his selection and the induction. “I never in a thousand years thought I would be selected for the hall of fame for the Southern Bowling Congress. I just tried to do what was asked of me and the best job I could possibly do, and tried to make things happen when they were supposed to happen.”

Strange started bowling as a teenager, took about a 10-year break to play football at Itawamba Community College and get his life started, then found the game again in his mid-20s. He’s been doing it — and doing it well — ever since.

Strange has won 14 Mississippi state championships and one national championship. He has rolled seven perfect 300 games — and figures he’s come within a shot of about 30 more — and one 800 three-game series.
Earlier this year, the 67-year-old earned a bronze medal at the State Games of Mississippi.

“I still enjoy the game even though I’m not as competitive as I once was. When you get these new knees and you have blockages and all this kind of stuff, it wears on you,” he said with a chuckle. “The competitive edge is still there. The ability is just not what it used to be.”

Strange said his Hall of Fame selection, however, was based less on his achievements and more on his service to a number of bowling organizations in Mississippi and the South. In addition to organizing hundreds of leagues in Vicksburg, he is a past president of the Southern Bowling Congress and Mississippi Bowling Congress, and was already in the Central Mississippi and Mississippi state halls of fame.

Being selected for the SBC Hall of Fame, he said, was the cherry on top. The Southern Bowling Congress covers nine Southern states.

“When you get selected by your peers over nine states to be considered a hall of fame member, that’s a really humbling experience,” Strange said. “To me, that’s one of the highest honors you can have in your sport. It’s humbling to think that you’re good enough, or you have gained enough respect that people think you deserve to be there. I don’t know whether I deserve to be there or not. I tried to do the best job I could do and treated people like I wanted to be treated, and so far that’s worked out pretty good for me.”

What didn’t work out as well was actually being inducted to the Hall of Fame. Strange was picked in August 2019, and is listed on the SBC’s web site as having been inducted that year. The ceremony, however, was scheduled to take place during the SBC’s annual tournament in Baton Rouge in March 2020.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic caused that tournament to be canceled a third of the way through, and before the hall of fame ceremony took place. It was rescheduled for August 2020 at the SBC’s annual meeting in Jackson, but that too was canceled. So was the 2021 tournament in Pensacola, Florida.

“If nothing happens, we’re finally going to have an induction. Our executive director told me the other day, ‘I’ve still got your jacket, I’ve still got your plaque, I’ve got everything and have been holding onto it for two years,’” Strange said with a laugh.

The next opportunity is at the SBC’s 2021 business meeting in Jackson on Aug. 22, two weeks after Strange’s 68th birthday. Instead of a lavish evening banquet, the ceremony will take place early in the morning over breakfast. Strange didn’t mind a bit.

“I have been considered a hall of fame member for two years but have not been officially inducted. That will happen on Aug. 22 at our breakfast meeting at 7:30 in the morning,” he said. “But it is a tremendous honor. A lot of people come through our organization and not a lot of them get to the hall of fame. I’m excited about it, and I’m proud of it, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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