Tom Biebl, general manager of County Lanes in Westminster has issueda general invitation to the bowlers of Carroll County.
"On Saturday night at 7 p.m. if you want to see some real good bowling, stop inat County Lanes and watch the Interstate Traveling League bowl."
He's right. The league has several dynamite tenpin bowlers, including Harry Baker.
Baker works as a mechanic at Terrace Lanes near his home in Frederick and bowls out of County Lanes in the InterstateTraveling League. The league includes 22 teams from Carroll, Frederick and Washington counties as well as Pennsylvania, with some centersentering as many as five teams.
It's a tough league.
"I'm looking down the road for a chance to turn professional," Baker said. "And bowling in the travel league the past two years as helped me a lot."
Baker carried a 220 average last year, and he's off and running this season. He has one 300 game and a 789 high set and earlier this season at County Lanes, he put together games of 226, 279 and 259 fora fine 764 series.
That's the house record at County Lanes, breaking Chuck Ludwig's 761.
"It's nice bowling at County Lanes," Bakersaid. "The lane condition is great for both left-handers and right-handers, and you know you're bowling in a house where the owner reallycares about the bowlers."
Baker throws a 16-pound ball and leans toward the Hammers.
"I've thrown all of my big games except one with a Hammer ball," he said. "I'll stick with it."
That means that some day soon you may see Harry Baker throwing a Hammer bowling ball on the professional tour.
"That was one the greatest head-to-head duckpin matches that I've ever seen," said Joe Rineer of Mount Airy Lanes. "And it probably set a record."
Rineer's right. It was a great match and it did set a record, as far as my research has determined.
It was a head-to-head qualifying match last month between Jim Vanfossen, who bowls at Mount Airy Lanes, and Mike Domonick at the Holiday Lanes in Manchester, Conn., on the Pro Duckpin Tour, and itwas a heart-stopper.
Vanfossen had no strikes after three frames,with a total of 27. Domonick, meanwhile, threw a 10 in the first frame and followed that with a spare and a triple-header strike. Looked like a blowout, right?
Not for a competitor like Vanfossen, who threw a strike in the fourth frame and hammered out five more strikes in a row, broke 7 in the tenth frame, picked it up and threw a strike for 214 game.
Domonick never gave up either, throwing a nice 203 game -- it just wasn't enough.
Vanfossen bowls in the Wednesday Men's Majors at Mount Airy Lanes and carries a 147 average with a high series of 534 and a high game of 231. He lives in Jefferson, FrederickCounty, with his wife, Darlene, and also bowls in the Thursday MajorLeague at White Oak Lanes in Montgomery County.
"I love duckpins," Vanfossen says. "I try to catch all the tournaments."
That 417 total is thought to be a tour record in head-to-head competition.
If you want more excitement than that, you'll have to fall off a cliff.
OK, duckpin bowlers, how many of you are really involved inthe game?
Oh, I don't mean showing up to bowl in your league and throwing a few practice games, I mean involved in the game to the extent that you try to build interest in the sport, that you try to makeit better in every way, that you try to advance the sport every year.
Well, Bill Hunt, president of the Baltimore Bowlers Association,says the association welcomes volunteers.
The next meeting is at 1 p.m. today at the nearby Fair Lanes Owings Mills center. If you can't make this one, meetings take place every month.
It's your sport, it's your association, it's your move.
Information: BBA office, (301) 766-3186 or Bill Hunt, (301) 761-8852.
Two recent athletic surveys give some interesting information about bowling.
A recent survey of 10,000 households by the National Sporting Goods Association shows that 40.1 million people age 7 and older bowl more than once a year. This compares with 23 million golfers and 18.4 million tennis players.
Of those participants, 20.1 million bowlers come from households with incomes of $35,000 or more, with 11.3 million of those residing in households with incomes of $50,000 or more. Golf is second in each category, with 15.2 million in the $35,000-plus household and 9.07 million in the $50,000-plus category. Tennis has 11.3 million and 8 million in the respective categories.
In another study,American Sports Analysis, a sports participation tracking study of 15,000 households conducted annually by American Sports Data Inc., found bowling trails only freshwater fishing and camping as the most popular participant sport in the United States.
During 1990, 53.5 million Americans over the age of 6 went bowling at least once, while 11.1 million bowled 25 times or more.