Sports

Miller sets senior PBA circuit on fire

Islander Hugh Miller is currently on the senior Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) tour. Miller won seven national titles earlier in his career with the PBA. - Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter
Islander Hugh Miller is currently on the senior Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) tour. Miller won seven national titles earlier in his career with the PBA.
— image credit: Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter

Two things have been constant in Hugh Miller’s life — Mercer Island and bowling. And while he has drifted away from each at one time or another, he has returned to both. Miller grew up on the Island and graduated from Mercer Island High School in 1975. That was when the lane of life rolled him into stardom.

“I won seven national titles on the PBA (Professional Bowlers Association),” said Miller about his career. “That was back when it was on ABC and drew two million viewers.”

But one of the highlights of his career took place when he bowled two perfect 300 games during a Senior PBA tour event with his son, Quinton Miller, in attendance.

“It was pretty special,” said Miller, who works for Windermere on Mercer Island. “How many sons get to see their dad win a sporting event?”

The performance clinched a victory at the PBA Senior Epicenter Classic in Klamath Falls, Ore., June 23-26. The second-year southpaw claimed his first Senior Tour victory, defeating 2005 champion Dale Eagle, 300-268, to earn the seventh perfect game in a senior final. It was also the first since 1999. Miller has two more events this August.

“I am in the top five, and if I win one more, I might be in contention for player of the year,” said Miller.

The Islander became interested in bowling as a youth when Mercer Island had a bowling ally.

“My mom bowled, like many women back then,” said Miller. “She used to take me with her.”

Miller’s passion for sports also branched into baseball, and he excelled from the mound. In 1974, Miller accepted an invitation to bowl in a national competition, making him ineligible for WIAA sports.

“That was when I really got into bowling,” said Miller, who joined the PBA in 1979 and began winning events in 1980.

The timing could not have been better as bowling then competed with all the major sports for fans and viewers. Miller’s first time on TV was one of the most memorable moments of his career.

“I competed in over 500 national tournaments,” said Miller, who is still ranked 40th all-time on the money list for the PBA. “The money isn’t there anymore.”

The PBA began to fall behind other sports during the early 1990s, and Miller turned to real estate. His time away from the game ended three and a half years ago, and he became the 10th ranked player.

“When you’re in your 40s with a family, traveling doesn’t appeal to you as much as when you were younger,” said Miller, who is now 51.

Miller said these days he bowls for the competition, despite earning $20,000 this year on tour.

“It is fun to be able to compete at the top level,” said Miller. “It is still a rush.”

Through his travels, he has gained friends all over the world who he still keeps in touch with.

The riggers of bowling 23 games in one day still “tears up” his wrists, but he has been able to stay away from some of the big injuries, he said.

“I am what is referred to as a stroker,” said Miller. “The young players like to crank it, but I am more about accuracy.”

Miller lives on Mercer Island with his family. In addition to bowling, he spends much time caring for his mother, who set him on his path down the lanes.

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