How do you get into the "Guinness Book of Records?" Simple. If you're young Richard Daff Jr. you start by staying with your sick mother. And, of course, later becoming the youngest person to bowl a 300 game.
But it all started three years ago, in the summer of 1987, when Laurie Daff, Richard's mother, was recovering from a serious operation and Richard would not leave her side. Laurie knew that Richard needed a diversion, but 9-year-old boys can sometimes be difficult to divert, especially where their moms are concerned.
Enter Pat Brady Clark. Clark, who now is living in Damascus with her husband of a few months, Mike Clark, was living in Odenton at the time. She had lived in Odenton for more than 30 years. For all of that time she had been associated with either the B.F. Saul Company or, currently, the Chevy Chase FSB, where she is executive assistant to the chairman of the board, B.F. Saul II.
And she was a bowler, a pretty good bowler, with a 171 average and a high game of 235 and a high series of 597. She still bowls in Odenton at the Bowl America lanes in the Saturday Night League. And in 1987 it was to this same house that Pat Brady Clark took Richard Daff Jr. to get his mind off of his mother's illness.
"He was a natural," is the way Clark put it. "I gave him a couple of pointers and he just took off. All I really taught him was to accept both the good and the bad breaks that come with bowling."
That, apparently, was all he needed. His first year of organized bowling, Richard was the Youth Bowler of the Year at Bowl America Odenton.
What does his coach, Carole Brady, have to say about Richard?
"His 300 game hasn't changed Richard one bit. He's still the same. He listens to what he's told and puts it to use, but he still won't bend that sliding knee," Brady said.
Brady has been bowling since 1970 and has been coaching for youngsters for 10 years. And yes, she can bowl a little bit, too.
Brady carries a 177 average, her high game is 277 and she missed that coveted 700 series by only five pins with a 695 set. At Towson State, Brady was on the bowling team. Since she's been Richard's coach for three years, some of the credit for that 300 record must go to her.
And a lot of credit has to go to Pat Brady Clark. This past Saturday when Bowl America Odenton lanes presented Richard with a ring commemorating his 300 game, no one at the ceremony was more proud of it than Pat Clark.
"I love to bowl. It makes me feel good to bowl, and it doesn't matter if I bowl good or bad. I just love to bowl," she said.
It seems pretty easy, now, to understand why Richard Daff Jr. hasn't let his record-breaking 300 game change him.
A young lady who competes at Bowl America Odenton also "loves to bowl."
Her name is Nicole Nebeker, and she's 5 years old. She bowls in the Pre-Bantam division of the youth leagues on Saturday mornings and she just received the Good Sportsman Star Award from Gretchen Smith, the youth director at the center.
Smith, who has been bowling for about 10 years, has been the youth director for three years and looks after about 100 kids every Saturday morning. They range in age from 3 to 18. And she has about 30 seniors in the O'Malley Prime Timers League. And she is the secretary and treasurer of the Atlantic City League in which she also bowls on Friday nights.
I'm not sure how she works this out, but Smith also is a county crossing guard at Chapel Gate in Odenton.
This Saturday, the Baltimore Women's Bowling Association will conduct a singles tournament at Bowl America Reisterstown.
On Nov. 23 and 24 at Bowl America Glen Burnie, the Young American Youth Alliance will play host to the city tournament.
The Amateur Bowlers Inc. will conduct a tournament this weekend at Forest Hill Lanes in Forest Hill.