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Jef Goodger

XXXX - Hambone

By December 23, 2009

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This is the fourth in a series of blogs to once and for all establish the proper names for x number of strikes in a row. These terms come from my (and my bowling associates') personal bowling vernacular, and you may have differing opinions. Still, strings of strikes need names, and if we're all going to agree on a set of names, we might as well agree on mine.

"Hambone" is a major point of contention for many bowling purists. I consider myself a purist in all sports, even those I've never played nor even heard of, and yet I embrace the hambone.

I'm interested in the opposing viewpoint but I don't understand it. The main point I've heard is "hambone" is a ridiculous name. I will not deny that. But as a guy who refers to a strike as a Jim J. Bullock, it's quite obvious ridiculous names don't bother me. Plus, calling three strikes in a row a turkey is ridiculous in its own right. So why the hatred toward the hambone?


The hambone is credited to ESPN play-by-play man Rob Stone, who took over the announcing duties in the 2007-08 season. Like anyone else, he wondered why a three-strike string was called a turkey. Naturally, he wondered what four in a row might be called.

The previous accepted term for four strikes in a row was "Four bagger." For an in-depth explanation on why that's a horrible term, see this blog.

Stone chose hambone, presumably to keep with the edible-animal theme. Whether or not you agree with the term, you have to respect the man trying to do the right thing by giving four strikes in a row, which is no small feat, a special name.

Current Use

Rob Stone did what anyone else would've done. Four strikes in a row didn't have an acceptable name, and he used his prominent position to establish one. I'm subscribing to it.

When you throw a hambone, the proper reaction is to turn around and shout, "Hambone!" You may also raise one or both arms into the air for emphasis, but the important thing is shouting "Hambone!" to everyone within ear shot. You can see Pete Weber doing this during the opening to this season's PBA telecasts.

Even though you do get to shout, you don't get to shout repeatedly. You get one shout - make it a good one. Also, make it a humble shout. To use a phrase many hockey goal scorers also need to hear, act like you've been there before.


March 5, 2011 at 7:02 pm
(1) keith says:

At least the turkey has an origin. Back before the turn of the 20th century a bowling proprietor would present a turkey to bowlers that bowled three strikes in a row. Hambone is just something that Stone came up with.

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