LAS VEGAS - In the storied history of the USBC Open Championships, nearly 600,000 five-player teams have taken to the lanes for their chance at tournament glory.

While each bowler's definition of success may be different, there are some accomplishments that are indisputably impressive, including making 50 tournament appearances.

On Friday afternoon, William DeHaven of Tucson, Ariz., joined this elite group of bowlers when he became the 104th member of the tournament's 50-year club.

DeHaven's passion for bowling started in 1937 when he and some friends went to a local bowling center for fun. After that visit, he was hooked and never looked back. Before long, he found himself on bowling's biggest stage.

"I was a much better bowler back then," said DeHaven, an 88-year-old right-hander. "Bowling for the first time was frightening. I'd never been to such a big event before. The ceremonies were amazing. I never dreamed of anything like that before."

The Dayton (Ohio) Bowling Association and Ohio State Hall of Famer made his first tournament appearance at the 1940 event in Detroit, and although his journey into the history books took a little bit longer than expected because of World War II and various personal reasons over the years, he was glad to finally reach the milestone.

"There was no such thing as participating in 50 tournaments back then," DeHaven said. "When I started seeing people get their 50th, I started thinking about it and making it my goal about seven or eight years ago."

Along with his love for competing on the lanes, DeHaven also took an interest in the administrative side of the sport and spent 23 years working in the Dayton Bowling Association. He also served as USBC President from 1984 to 1985.

While DeHaven has many great memories from his 50 tournaments, the 1979 event in Tampa, Fla., stands out the most. That also was a significant year in tournament history because it marked the debut of automatic scoring at the USBC Open Championships.

"My favorite memory has to be Tampa," DeHaven said. "That was the first and only time I shot 1,900. Another good memory is 1978, in St. Louis. I shot a 687 and won what was a good amount of money back then."

While those memories will not fade, they likely will now be a close second to his ceremonial walk down Center Aisle at Cashman Center on Friday, which he mentioned ranks right up there with becoming the organization's president.

"I would say this is tied for first, right along side being president," said DeHaven, who received a plaque, chevron and diamond lapel pin Friday. "I was once told that walking down Center Aisle is like walking out to the mound at Yankee Stadium. That's exactly how it felt today."

DeHaven rounded out his 50th celebration with 536 in singles, 402 in doubles and 384 in team for a 1,322 all-events total. In 50 tournament appearances, he has knocked down 72,625 pins for a 172.9 career average.

Presenting sponsors for the 2009 USBC Open Championships are the Coast Casinos in Las Vegas and the Eldorado Hotel Casino, Silver Legacy Resort Casino and Circus Circus in Reno, Nev. Other participating sponsors are Kegel, official lane maintenance provider; Brunswick, capital equipment supplier; Storm Products, Inc.; Binion's Gambling Hall and Hotel and Four Queens Hotel and Casino, the official brackets sponsors; Sapphire Gentleman's Club; Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino; MGM Mirage; Jerry's Nugget Casino and Fitzgerald's Casino and Hotel.