"Of course, duckpin bowling should be the official state sport of Maryland," said Toots Barger. "It already is the unofficial state sport."
Barger should know. No woman in any sport at any time was ever able to dominate a sport so clearly over so many years.
She was No. 1 duckpin bowler in the nation for 13 years and No. 1in Maryland for "Oh, I guess, 26 or 27 years," she says.
Barger, who lives in Pasadena and still bowls in three leagues, was front andcenter at Fair Lanes Pikesville when the campaign to make duckpin bowling the official state sport of Maryland was kicked off.
And whyshouldn't duckpin bowling be the state sport? It's the only sport that started here, that flourished here and is still played here in 50 duckpin centers. And it's reached out to other states: Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Last year 9 1/2 million games of duckpins were played. I believe that you will find that figure is a bithigher than the number of jousts that took place.
Oh, you didn't know that jousting is the official sport of Maryland? Understandable,if you don't happen to be one of the 12 or 13 people who joust. Yep,jousting has been the official state sport since 1962. You're right,nobody knows how it happened, or if they do know, they ain't talkin'.
Some people have tried to have lacrosse entered into the race for the state sport. Well, that's OK, but again we're not going to get too excited about a bunch of guys named Buzz and Sonny running aroundin short pants while they paw at each other with little sticks that have little crab nets on the end.
Duckpin bowling started here, about 250,000 play the game and you don't have to feed a horse to enjoythe sport. What more could you ask?
Jamie Grimes of Chesterfield bowls duckpins at Riviera Bowl in the Sunday Night Mixed League,and you are not going to get him to joust after the night he had last weekend.
Grimes, son of Glenna Grimes who manages Riviera Bowl, threw seven strikes in the first seven frames.
"By the sixth frame, everyone in the house had stopped to watch," Glenna said. "When he chopped the one- and five-pin in the eighth frame, everyone started to compare the game to the 272 that Tiger Baker had in Norfolk last month."
Tiger Baker converted that nightmare split and went on to throw three more strikes. It wasn't to be for Grimes, though.
He didn't convert the split, and in the ninth frame chopped the 1-5 again. He came back in the 10th with a strike and a 10-count for a 229 game that was the cornerstone for a fine 525 series.
"I never bowled inthe youth leagues," he said. "I started right in the adult leagues when I was 14 years old."
The 27-year-old draftsman for a local company carries a 134 average bowling in just one league a week.
It must have been a full moon that week, because Rob Dickson in the Thursday Night Mixed League threw a 202 game. That's a nice game for anyone, but Dickson carries a 108 average.
On the Sunday Night Mixed League, Luke Balmaceno, who carries a 118 average, threw a 204 game.
It looks like Riviera Bowl is the place to look for the high scores this year.
At Greenway Bowl Odenton it appears that high games are becoming commonplace for the tenpin bowlers.
John Babbitt, achief master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, drives from Fairfax, Va., to bowl in the Monday night league. That's about a three-hour drive. Why?
"I bowl at Greenway because of the people," Babbitt said. "The people who bowl there are great, and the people that run the center are great. My friend Steve Bergan lives in the area and he got meto try Greenway, and I just love the place."
Babbitt carries a 217 average with a high series of 813 and four 300 games. Last month inthe Monday night league at Greenway, he threw his fourth 300 game.
"I like the new system of bowling with its three units of oil," he said. "I've always been a down-and-in player, and I've always felt that the game should be a challenge, not just high scores but honest scores."
Bobby Burkindine works part time as a porter at Greenway Bowl Odenton and bowls in the Saturday morning youth league and the Sunday Traveling League. Last year he carried a 173 average. This year it's approaching 190-plus.
Bobby lives in Glen Burnie with hisparents, Karen and Bill Burkindine, and is a junior in Glen Burnie High School. He'll be 16 in December.
Until three years ago Bobby and his dad were duckpin bowlers, but a afternoon of tenpin bowling atPeggy and Dan Tully's insistence converted them into tenpin bowlers.Now Bill carries about 185-plus, but "Bobby usually beats him," Karen said.
Last Saturday, Bobby put all the hours of practice together. He shot games of 212, 278 and 236 for a 726 series. That second game could have been the coveted 300 game, but the nine pin stood in the third frame and the seven pin wouldn't go down in the last frame.