The Maryland State Games bowling tournament draws bowlers from the entire state, as the name implies. This past year about 3,000 teams entered.
It's a rather difficult event to win, to cash in, or even to get through to the finals. Many bowlers form teams far in advance and practice together.
But there is another method, one used by the Carroll County bowlers known as the Chapsticks.
A bunch of guys who bowl at County Lanes, guys who had never bowled together as a team, decided it would be fun to enter the tournament.
And on a spring day in 1990 at Forest Hill Lanes in Harford County, it was a great deal of fun. That was the day the Chapsticks from County Lanes won the Maryland State Bowling Association Tournament and split the $1,300 first-place prize.
All members of this team have one thing in common: they "just love to bowl," said Bill Chapman, lead-off bowler for the team.
And the Chapsticks took their team name from Chapman. If you read this column, you know that Chapman just came very close to a 700 series, a 686 set, with a tough split in the final frame that robbed him of the 700. This gave the team a lead-off man with a 186 average.
Second in the line-up is Larry Davis, a pattern maker with London Fog.
Born in Michigan, Davis spent some time in New York State and now lives in Westminster with his wife, Carol, who carries a 120 average and bowls with Larry in the Friday night mixed league at Thunderhead Taneytown.
Davis, who is averaging 186 with a 278 high game and a big 763 series, does his bowling with a 16-pound Columbia U-dot. Wednesday nights, you'll find him bowling in the scratch triple league at County Lanes. Is there anything about bowling that Davis doesn't like?
"Short oil. Get rid of the short oil. It's the only thing I don't like about bowling," is the way Davis, who's been bowling since 1973, put it.
The third team position was filled by a bowler whom just about everyone in Carroll County will recognize: Ken Frock Jr. He currently manages the County Lanes for Chuck Ludwig and was associated, with his father, Ken Sr., with Lucky Strike Lanes, the forerunner of County Lanes.
He bowls in the Thursday night men's classic at County Lanes and on Monday night at Kings Point Lanes in Randallstown, Baltimore County.
He was just 11 pins short of a 300 game, with 289 for a high game; high set is 718 and he carries a 178 average.
Now whom do you put in the foundation position, the number four spot?
That's easy. You just write in the name of a guy who's only been bowling three years. That's right, Chico Garcia, former footballer, baseball player, and basketball player, is bowling today because his wife Patricia came home one day three years ago and said, "I just joined you up to bowl."
Three years later, Garcia is averaging 172 and his average increases each year. He has a 268 high game and in the Miller Lite tournament at Martinsburg, W.Va., last year. With Patricia as his partner, he threw a career-high 699 series to go with Pat's 482 and take third place in that tough, tough tournament.
That brings us to the anchor man on the Chapsticks: George Meade. He was born in Severn in Anne Arundel County and now lives in New Windsor with his wife, June. He is a supervisor for Martin Marietta in Baltimore.
He's been bowling since 1968 and throws a 16-pound Cobra, left-handed.
He carries a 188 average with a 267 high game, a 670 series.
On Monday nights, June bowls with him in the mixed league at County Lanes, and on Wednesday he bowls in the scratch league at County Lanes.
The only improvement Meade would like to see in the game of bowling is very simple: "I'd like to see all the houses use the same oil. Short or long, I don't care, just that each house was consistent with the other centers."