Brushes With Greatness: Meeting Mika Koivuniemi

Most of you probably have no idea who this is. In fact, I’ll guess that 99% of you don’t know who this is. Mika is often featured on Sunday morning/afternoons on ABC Sports. Get it yet? Ok, if not, Mika is a member of the PBA.

Back in 2003, I was bowling for the Western New England College bowling team. We were invited to help set up and then attend a live televised PBA event in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Little did we know, we would watch history in the making.

The PBA folks had us sit in the area known as “The Pit”. That is the area to the side of the lanes where they keep the rowdy crowd. They also brought us paper and markers to create signs to cheer on the bowlers. Everyone was choosing to make signs for Jason Couch, however I chose to make one for Mika Koivuniemi. Mika and I have a similar bowling style and we are both pretty tall guys so it was a no brainer to root for him throughout the finals.

Then came the finals matchup between Mika and Jason Couch. The strikes kept on coming. They were coming so fast and furious that Mika decided to throw 12 in a row, a perfect game. This was one of the few perfect 300 games ever shown on live TV. I chose the perfect bowler to root for that day.

Turns out, Mika would win two more matches to win the tournament that day and throw one of the best series of 3 games in a finals in PBA history.

After the final match, I saw Mika getting ready to leave as I was helping take down the set. I grabbed my poster I made with a marker and made my way over to him. I congratulated him on a great game and great series to win the championship. He was very appreciative and he signed my sign for me. “The Mika-Nator” it said after I heard one of the bowlers hanging around that morning refer to him by that.

That sign was shown several times during the telecast and also on ESPN that night in Chris Berman’s Top 10. In fact, I still had the signed sign on my wall until I moved away for college. When I moved all my stuff out to Oregon, it was destroyed. But I will never forget meeting a man who threw one of the few perfect games live on television that day.