The biggest. In the words of one of the bowlers, "the best yet."
Over a four-day period, Thursday through Sunday, 539 tenpin bowlers went to the Crofton Bowling Centre to bowl in Joe Doctor's NABI Tournament, the biggest such tourney to date in the Baltimore-Washington area.
There was $16,170 paid out in prize money. The winner, Billy Wilson Jr.
of Magnolia, Del., picked up $2,000, while runner-up John Woodard of California, St. Mary's County, won $1,000. Third-place money of $600 went to Joe Gonzales of Waldorf. Susan Rogers of Alexandria, Va., was fourth and received $550. The last finalist, Rob Chassereau of Edgewood, won $500 for his fifth-place finish.
The bowlers came from many miles around to compete. One couple from the Kansas City area, here on vacation, signed up. Another from Chicago decided to bowl while visiting Maryland. Why? Because NABI tournaments offer the average amateur bowler a chance to compete on equal terms and to win some interesting amounts of money. Of the 539 entrants, 104 cashed in.
That's one of every five that entered. That 104th bowler received $65, getting his entry fee back plus $40. The 50th-place bowler cashed in for $100. That's why 539 bowlers showed up over the Thanksgiving weekend holiday to bowl. It was a lot of fun, a lot of money and a chance to bowl against folks who probably never will grace the pro tour but who will give you all the competition that you want.
Bowlers like Vernon Jackson from Crownsville, who has been bowling steadily for only three years, cashed. Jackson, who has a 198 average, tied for 15th place and won $187.50. He bowls Wednesdays at Fair Lanes Annapolis and Tuesdays in the Late Show League.
He has an old Brunswick GTB 16-pound ball that he likes. He's bowled a 300 game (January 1989 at Bowl America Odenton) and a 715 series. He works for the Reliant Fish Co. at the Jessup Seafood Market and likes to spend weekends bowling in tournaments.
He started bowling when he was a kid but gave it up for many years.
Three years ago, he rediscovered the joys of tenpins, and he's been at it ever since.
"I like the competition," Jackson said. "But mostly, I like the people you meet. Everyone tries to win, but it's not cut-throat.
"I have a lot of admiration for the way Joe Doctor runs the NABI tournaments. They're always well-organized."
Corinne Call is another bowler who likes the competition, the chance to compete and win. She and her husband, Elmer, work together closely. Elmer, a retired Navy man (20 years), drives a school bus for the Prince George's County school system. She teaches sixth grade at Tulip Grove Elementary.
She's been a schoolteacher for 27 years, so you know that she's not going to get nervous in a tournament.
Elmer carries a 172 average bowling in the Crofton Centre, and Corinne is proof that you don't have to be a cranker, don't have to throw a 16-pound ball and don't have to have devoted your life to bowling to enjoy the game and to compete on equal (handicapped) terms with anyone. And make money doing it.
She tied for 17th at Joe Doctor's event, collecting $175.
Corinne, bowling for only four years, throws a 10-pound ball in the Thursday Elk League and the Friday Night Mix-up League at Crofton Bowling Centre. She maintains a 135 average with a high game of 225 and a 513 high series. That 513 set was in another NABI tournament about three weeks ago; it enabled her to pick up $40.
"Anyone can bowl," she said. "Any age, any size, it doesn't matter. You can compete and you can win."
After school, between 4 and 6 p.m., she brings some of the schoolchildren to Crofton Bowling Centre for a few games. They range from 4-year-olds to seventh-graders, and at times as many as 20 have attended.
"Bowling is a good, positive thing for youngsters to get interested in," Call said. "They can compete on equal terms, they're safe from injuries, they learn sportsmanship and finally it's a lot of fun."
Tournament news Thirty-six high school seniors from Maryland will be bowling for $7,000 worth of scholarships Sunday at Turner's Dual Lanes in Hagerstown.
This is the 10th year the Maryland Tenpin Bowling Council has provided this opportunity to high school seniors. Four first-place awards of $1,000 will be given to one boy and one girl for scratch and handicap scores. Four second-place awards of $750 will be presented in each division.
Money for this tournament comes from adult bowlers during a two-week drive in October.
The next NABI tournament will be Saturday and Sunday at Fair Lanes Dundalk, 1101 Merritt Boulevard in Baltimore County.
Bowl magazine will be at Crofton Bowling Centre Maryland the next three weekends, presenting its 22nd annual Mixed Team and Mixed Doubles Handicap Tournament, which is sanctioned by the American Bowling Congress and the Women's International Bowling Congress. First prize in the team event and the doubles event will be $3,000.
Donald G. Vitek's Bowling column appears every Thursday in The Anne Arundel County Sun. Bowlers are urged to give Don a call with scores and tidbits at 247-0850.