Morgan rolls trio of perfect games
by Erich Hilkert
TALLADEGA — E.J. Morgan removes two rings from his fingers, the red numbering visible at the center of the rings, and places them on the table.

“This is what the USBC (United States Bowling Congress) gives you. This is for the perfect score,” he says while pointing to the ring on the right, before pointing to the one on the left. “This is for the series I rolled.”

On May 23, Morgan rolled a bowler’s dream: a perfect game for a score of 300, while also rolling an overall 800 points over a three-game series. It happened at the Talladega Bowling Center in lanes three and four. Prior to the 300, he rolled a 256 and followed the perfect game with a 244. Morgan said having most of his family present is what made the event feel special.

“When I shot the first 300, it was in our championship game for the league,” Morgan said. “It was the final series to determine who finished first for the two halves of the league. I was bowling with my wife, with my mother, with my cousin and my dad was here and two of my kids were here — just to have all of those people, who have seen me be so close so many times and have something happen and not get it — to have all of them here cheering me on and celebrate with me when it finally happened, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”

Morgan’s wife Brandy and cousin Kenny Williams are regulars on his bowling team, while his mother Betty and father Ellis alternate each week as the fourth member of the team. His oldest son Devin Morgan, his stepson Taylor Hall and daughter Kailey all bowl, too. In fact, Taylor was recently the winner of the junior league.

Not surprisingly, Morgan started bowling when he was young also. While he has bowled elsewhere in the state, he’s partial to the Talladega bowling community — not necessarily because he and his wife work at the Talladega Bowling Center, but because of his long history bowling here.

“I’ve been bowling here for the better part of 27 years,” Morgan said. “I started bowling here as a junior league bowler when I was 12 years old. We have city tournaments every year and we’ve been able to win the team event. My wife and I won the doubles event a couple of years ago. My mother and I have won it before. With Talladega being a smaller town, it’s not like Birmingham. I know all these people. I work with them outside of here because I run an electrical business too.

“Being able to do it around that many people that you know and have your friends and all around you — I’ve bowled in Birmingham, I used to live in Athens, I’ve bowled in Huntsville and Decatur and those are just big, big centers and you’ve got so many teams that you don’t know the people — here we’re a lot smaller community so you know everybody. You get to watch them grow as bowlers and see their accomplishments, and they’re there to stand behind you and see yours. It’s more like a big family. Most of the time, everybody here is rooting for you. It makes it a little easier than some of those bigger cities.”

Morgan went on to roll another perfect game on June 19 and a 300 again on July 17. Morgan believes his recent success is simply the fruition of working on his game over the years.

“It’s just years of refinement and experience and working on it that kind of got me to this level,” he said. “I’ve been a higher-average bowler for a while. I’ve been really close to some perfect games, but they’ve always eluded me — one pin here, one pin there. We were in Birmingham and I shot a 299. It was the very last ball; one pin stood up. So, I’ve been close a lot of times as far as the actual perfect score goes. But it’s been years of just hanging in there and working on it.”

Morgan’s 800 score is the highest in a series since Talladega started a bowling association, and he’s the only person to roll multiple 300 games in Talladega.

Morgan’s recent success can’t be attributed to any changes to his game. He always bowls with his AMF ‘Green Mamba’ ball and his white Dexter bowling shoes. Morgan received words of encouragement from the man who rolled 896 in a three-game series.

“A real good buddy of mine in Birmingham, a real good bowler — as a matter of fact, he’s the state record holder, he set the record for a three-game series — Paul Ealy, he told me ‘Man, just hang in there,’” Morgan said. “’It’s coming and once you get that first one, the others will fall for you.’ So far, it’s kind of been that way. Like I said, I’ve had two more since then. It’s been quite a ride. I’ve enjoyed it.”

© 2013