At one time Marshall Holman was heralded as one of the world's best bowlers. Now, he's content just to be one of the best bowlers in his Thursday night league in his hometown of Medford, Ore.
Retired from the PBA Tour "since 1996 or 1997 - there was no official announcement," he recalls, the 50-year-old PBA Hall of Famer now fills his time marketing his Liberty Tax Service franchise, golfing in an occasional Celebrity Pro Tour event, bowling in league and spending time to support his favorite charities.
Holman was in Milwaukee recently taking part in bowling and golf events to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
The 22-time PBA Tour titlist became involved with the cystic fibrosis charity through a friendship he developed with Milwaukee restaurateur Jerry Arenas whose 21-year-old son, Tony, has the illness. CF is caused by a defective gene that causes the body to produce an abnormally thick mucus that clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections.
Holman's and Arenas' friendship dates back to the mid-1970s when he bowled the Milwaukee PBA Tour stop. Arenas' restaurant was popular with PBA Tour players because it was one of the few places where bowlers could eat after late qualifying squads.
"That's when I met Jerry and learned his son had cystic fibrosis," Holman said. "In addition to becoming good friends over the years, we have formed a partnership to bring attention to the disease and do our small part to hopefully find a cure some day."
This is the fifth year for the charity bowling event in Milwaukee where Holman bowls a few frames with each team that enters. In those five years approximately $25,000 has been raised for the charity.
Compared to cancer or heart disease, cystic fibrosis doesn't affect nearly the number of people (approximately 30,000 children and adults in the U.S.) so consequently it doesn't get the attention that some of the other charities get, according to Arenas.
"We share a passion to find a cure," Arenas said. "Our work together has strengthened our friendship over the years. We can't thank Marshall enough for what he does for us."
When he competes in Celebrity Golf Tour events, Holman is able to obtain autographed memorabilia from other sports stars in addition to donating his own used bowling equipment to the charity. Holman obtained an autographed Michael Jordan basketball which fetched $2,000 at auction. According to Arenas, another $35,000 has been raised through autographed items Holman has provided for the charity.
Holman has done quite well on the celebrity golf tour. Along with fellow bowling great Walter Ray Williams Jr. and retired St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andy Van Slyke, the threesome recently won the Tom Dreesen Celebrity Golf Tour event in suburban Chicago.
As for bowling, gone are the days when Holman was what may be called the "original bad boy" on tour. Now he's just happy to be a card-carrying, dues-paying league bowler as he puts it. In addition to bowling once a week in league, he also bowls in local association and state tournaments.
"I think I've rediscovered the fun of bowling," he said. "Even with the career I had, bowling wasn't always fun. Now I can relax and enjoy it with friends like millions of other league bowlers."