Peoria Champion Retires Bowling Ball Containing Late Father’s Ashes

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — It’s been a crazy two months for John Hinkle.

The avid bowler who honored his late father by placing his dad’s ashes in a bowling ball and rolled a perfect game with it on the first night he used the ball in Peoria league play, is finally taking a breath. His story, first told on WMBD-TV in April, was embraced around the world.

“Once that hit, I was getting messages left and right,” Hinkle said. “Friends I hadn’t talk to (in years) said, ‘Dude, you’re on ESPN, TMZ and CNN. I was on (TV) in Taiwan. That was pretty funny to me.”

Hinkle said he cried when Sports Illustrated reached out to him to talk about his father John Hinkle, Sr., his 300 game and his “dad’s ball.”

Hinkle then used that ball to win Peoria’s 65-team Tournament of Champions for the first time. His Landmark Lanes teams had finished runner-up in the year-end Tournament of Champions twice before but won the 2021 title on June 8.

And the Tournament of Champions, which includes all the league champs from Peoria’s bowling centers and those in surrounding communities, was the final tourney he bowled with his father prior to his death in 2016.

“I shot the 300 with it, which was amazing,” Hinkle said. “But to be in the last tournament that I bowled with my father and to win it, says it all. It needs to go into retirement.”

So now that ball is officially retired. This week, Hinkle has given it a final resting place.

It’s in a lighted trophy case at his home, alongside a Landmark Lanes tumbler given to the TOC winners.

Also in the small glass case, an urn with his father’s remaining ashes.

“It’s engraved with my dad’s name, not mine,” Hinkle said of the casing. “He’s the one who accomplished this. I finally accomplished this for him. This is what I came up with.”

Hinkle’s five-member team signed the nearly seven-foot tall bracket sheet from the Tournament of Champions and gave it him. It’s the finishing touch to the classy display that was completed this week.

Completed just in time for June 24th.

“That’s my dad’s 67th birthday,” Hinkle said. “It’s his birthday present. This is definitely all for him. I guess you can say ‘Happy Birthday, dad.’”

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