They call him Boomer.
Robert Miller was bowling in a tournament called "Meet the Champ" and on one of those balls where you know all 10 duckpins are going to fly into the pit, he turned around on the lane and said, "Boom."
While Bob Miller doesn't throw a hard ball, he'll always be stuck with the nickname Boomer.
Earlier this month, in the Monday Night Men's league at Mount Airy Lanes, Boomer had one of those nights bowlers dream about; the best game ever and the best set ever. When you're a 128 average bowler, as Miller is, you always think about the 200 game, the 500 series. On Nov. 5, at Joe Rineer's bowling center, it happened.
The first game was 212, the second game 163 and finally, the third game, 136, for a 511 set. Miller has been bowling since 1969 and never had a night like this one.
"I'd like to be a little more consistent in my bowling," he said.
I think what he meant was that he'd like more 500 sets.
Miller lives in Mount Airy, is employed by Navistar International in Baltimore and bowls in the Wednesday Night Majors at Mount Airy Lanes, as well as subbing on some Tuesday nights, and of course, he bowls in the Monday Night Men's, where he had the overpowering series. Miller was born in Ellicott City, Howard County, but has lived most of his life in Carroll County.
He likes to use a 3-pound, 10-ounce duckpin ball and says, "I like duckpins more than tenpins because I think it takes a little more skill."
Well, sure, when's the last time you saw a tenpin bowler chop the 1 and 5 pins? As far as being consistent is concerned, it's what all bowlers yearn for, it's why we have "averages."
It's also the reason that everyone who bowls remembers the big game, the big series; but on the other hand, no matter what your average is -- under 100, over 150, anywhere in between -- we can all look forward to the time when all 10 pins go "Boom."
John Schramm knows a lot about all 10 pins going into the pit at the same time. He carries a 151 average, his high game is 246 and his high series is a fantastic 579. He throws a 3-pound, 12-ounce duckpin ball in the Wednesday Classic Triples at Fair Lanes Middlesex and the Friday Professional Mixed Doubles at Greenway East.
He's lived in Westminster for the past year with wife, Lola, who was also bowling until recently. Schramm has been bowling since 1978 and he is the current president of the Duckpin Pro Bowlers Association.
Schramm is an estimator for G.H. Nitzel Inc., a mechanical contractor and works part-time at the Thunderhead Westminster Lanes.
The DPBA was formed in 1963 and has 241 members this year. Last weekend at Westview Fair Lanes in Baltimore County, the organization had its Duckpin Professional Bowlers Association Masters Championship. The finals were taped for television viewing at a later date. When all the statistics are completed, I'll let you know about it.
If your average is over 130 and you would like to compete against and bowl with folks like Jeff Pyles, Swede Lavers, Doug Shipley -- last year's Masters winner -- and Joe Rineer, stop by the Thunderhead Lanes and see Schramm.
"What I like the most about duckpin bowling is the competitiveness," said Schramm. "The level of play in the tournaments is very high and you have to make a great effort to bowl against this caliber of bowler."
Since Schramm began bowling in 1978, he has seen a lot of changes in the game, some good and some not so good. Of course, one of the things he's seen is a leap in scores; perhaps due to that he's also seen a continuing high interest in the sport, especially among the younger bowler.
Would he like to see any changes in the duckpin game?
"I would like to see more cooperation between the bowling center proprietors," Schramm said. "I'd like to see them working more closely to improve all the aspects of the sport, to work together for the continuing success of duckpin bowling."
Makes sense to me.