July 25, 2002

Skee-Ball Week Continues! Click here to go to the beginning of the story.

[Editor's Note: Unfortunately, we here at The Donk have been unable to locate the May or June 1938 issues of Happy Boy Magazine despite countless phone calls, e-mails, and time spent searching the microfilm and periodical departments of several university libraries. There is a lack of any real collector's market for magazines like Happy Boy, making them extremely difficult to find (it would actually be easier for us to locate them if they were considered rare and valuable!). If any of our readers can provide us with these elusive issues, you will have our eternal gratitude.

That being said, we were, at last, able to locate the July 1938 issue of Happy Boy (our eternal gratitude goes out to Dick Gibson, the Skee-Ball Hall of Fame's Director of Research, for his patience and diligence), featuring the climax of the Guy Sterling: Skee-Ball Champion storyline. We hope you enjoy it.]

From the July 1938 issue of Happy Boy Magazine: For Boys Like You!

Episode 15 of Guy Sterling: Skee-Ball Champion!

When we last saw Guy Sterling: Skee-Ball Champion, he had defeated Jehoshaphat Smith, Adirondack Al Acres, and Buck D'Lish (not to mention a nefarious German Agent attempting to infiltrate the world of Skee-Ball!) to reach the final round of The Championships. His opponent: the mysterious, bearded Joe Doe. Guy and Joe Doe had each won one game in the finals; the winner of the third game would become the World Skee-Ball Champion.

Guy Sterling put down his glass of lemonade, walked over to the alley, and put his nickel in the slot. He heard familiar metallic whoosh of the resetting scoreboard and the clack of the nine wooden balls as they reached the bottom of the chamber. Guy was getting ready to play a game of Skee-Ball, something he had done thousands and thousands of times.

There was one small difference, however. In none of those thousands of times had a whole dome filled with screaming fans been watching Guy roll, and in none of those thousands of times could a good game make Guy the Skee-Ball Champion of the World. Thinking about all that wouldn't help, Guy thought, so he just kept reminding himself that it was just another game of Skee-Ball: the balls weren't any heavier, the lanes weren't any longer, and the 50-point hole wasn't any smaller.

The bellowing voice of the announcer broke his concentration. "Ladies and Gentleman, the final game of the 1938 World Skee-Ball Championships! Let's hear it once again for both of our finalists: Guy Sterling and Joe Doe!"

Guy looked over at his opponent, the mysterious Joe Doe. Guy had never heard of Joe Doe, and neither had any of the other rollers in the tournament. Nobody even knew where he came from, since he refused to talk to anybody. Even when Guy tried to wish him luck, like his Ma had taught him to do, Doe just grunted and walked away, tugging at his bushy beard. He hadn't seen anybody that mean since the time Barkeep Billy kicked a pig in the middle of Main Street!

Well, he might have been an unfriendly son-of-a-gun, but he sure could play some Skee-Ball! After losing the first game by more than 50 points, it took all of Guy's nerve and concentration to fight back and eke out a win in the second game. Now it was time for the final game, and Guy was tired. It had been the busiest, craziest, most exciting week of his whole life, and one way or the other it would be all be over in a few minutes.

"Gentlemen, start yer Skee-Balling!"

Doe rolled first, another 50. Gosh, Guy thought, this guy sure is good. How can it be that somebody this good would just appear out of nowhere? The way he was rolling he would have won a whole bunch of trophies, or at least come close! And if he had been in tournaments, surely somebody would recognize him, what with that big, bushy beard. Still, Guy thought while watching Doe roll, something about him seemed awfully familiar...

Guy threw his first ball: it hit the lip of the hole but banked in for the 50. Whew! In a match like this, even one little mistake could be the difference. Guy knew he had to stop worrying about this Joe Doe character and just worry about his game.

The two rollers went back and forth, trading 50's. Both seemed to know that it was going to take nothing less than perfection to win this title. 150-150. 200-200. Like 50-making machines, the two rollers were both throwing perfectly. 250-250. 300-300. The tension in the Skee-Dome was growing thicker with each roll. 350-350! 400-400!

Joe Doe got up to throw his last ball. Though he had thrown nothing but 50's, Joe Doe was looking a lot more tired and nervous than he had at the beginning of the match. That nervousness, combined with the heat inside the packed Skee-Dome, was causing him to sweat something fierce. He was wiping his hands on his shirt and furiously scratching at his beard. He looked like he needed a nap and a tall glass of ice water, but that would have to wait. Doe rolled the ball.

Like his previous eight throws, the ball banked off the right wall and up towards the 50. But this one seemed to be moving a little faster than the others, and rather than sailing into the 50-point whole it bounced off the top of it, rebounding into the 40. The crowd gasped, and now Guy could win the whole thing with his last throw. The 40 caused Joe Doe to utter his first word of the tournament: "Geesmackit!" he screamed, then stomped back to his chair, still pawing at his face.

As excited as he was about the chance to win, Guy couldn't help but notice that something strange seemed to be happening as Joe Doe scratched his face, that his beard seemed to be...shifting a little! That was something that never happened to Gramps' beard! And that "Geesmackit!" sounded awful familiar! He ran over to Joe Doe and grabbed his beard. Gosh, Guy thought, I sure hope I'm right about this. Guy grabbed tight, gave a yank...and the beard came off in his hands!

The crowd was stunned into silence, broken only when a man in the mezzanine screamed "It's Spats Muprhy!" And it was! Reviled by the sport and booed mercilessly at tournaments, Spats had adopted this cunning disguise to compete in the Championships. Immediately, NSBA officials ran over to Guy and Spats, screaming that the tournament was over, that Spats was disqualified, that there would need to be new matches, and a whole bunch of other stuff.

And, of course, it was Spats screaming loudest of all, screaming about how he was being framed, how some gamblers were forcing him to wear the fake beard, how he just wanted to beat the damn punk kid.

"Wait a goshdarn second," Guy screamed, silencing everybody. "Spats might be a sneak and a liar and a jerk and an all-around terrible man, but near as I can tell he didn't cheat here today. He may have done it in a real funny way, but he won a bunch of matches to get here, and he was rolling real good today." Guy turned to Spats and looked him straight in the eye.

"But you know something, Spats? Today, you just ain't good enough."

With that, Guy turned and walked over to the alley, a smile on his face. Like it was the easiest thing he was ever going to do, he reached down, picked up the ball, set himself, then rolled it down the lane. And like his little brother jumping off the rope swing into Critters Creek, the ball sailed through the 50-point hole quiet and pretty as can be.

And with that 50, Guy Sterling was the Skee-Ball Champion of the World!
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