They called it the Pioneer League, and it was one of the first tenpin leagues in Anne Arundel County when it began 32 years ago.
And Elmo Butler was there for every one of those years.
Elmo (don't even think of calling him Elmer) Butler has been secretary of the Wednesday night Pioneer league at Bowl America Odenton since its inception. This season is the first that the leaguewill havea new secretary.
Born in Gambrills 68 years ago, Butler lives less than a mile from his birthplace.
"I've never even thought of living any place else but Anne Arundel County," he said. "Especially this area."
Prior to suffering a stroke last year, Butler was the bowler you could count on to be there every league night. In his 50s, Butler would bowl five nights a week, carry a 180-plus average and havea career-high game of 277 and a high series of 675.
"I just couldn't seem to ever hit that 300 game or that 700 series," he said, "but, believe me, I tried. The important thing to me is that I was able to meet so many wonderful people over that 32 years. The bowlers are my friends, the bowling center is my home away from home, and while the stroke has stopped me bowling for now, I'll still be showing up at Bowl America just to see my friends."
On Dec. 19, just over a weekafter he had been honored by the Pioneer League at Bowl America Odenton for his 32 years of service, Butler's wife, Ruth, passed away after a lingering illness. She will be missed.
John Hance bowls at Bowl America Odenton in the Saturday Mixed League. After five years of bowling, he's starting to get the hang of the game.
Hance, who lives in Harmons and works as a mechanic for Maserati Automobiles, throws a 16-pound Blue Hammer for a 192 average. And he's learned something that every bowler should remember: Wipe off the ball before you throw it.
"I never bothered to wipe the oil off my ball since I started bowling," he said, "but this season, I began to wipe it off after every shot. It seems to hook a little better, a little sharper."
On Nov. 23, John threw games of 248, 220 and 254 for his first 700 series. On Dec. 14, he had games of 279, 255 and 186 for a 720 career-high series.
That first game of 279 could have been his first 300. It is his career-high single game.
Now, will you wipe off the cotton-pickin' ball?
The 11th annual Maryland State Tenpin Council Scholarship Tournament took place Dec. 8 at Elk Lanes in Elkton. Four $1,000 scholarships were awarded to winners of the four divisions -- the highest scoring boy and girl in both the handicap and scratch events.
* Shawn Blake of Harford Lanes won the Boys Scratch Division with a six-game total of 1,251.
* James Townsend Jr. of Aberdeen Proving Grounds had a six-game handicapped total of 1,550.
*Ivy Parkinson, bowling out of Crofton Centre, threw a six-game totalof 1,017 to win the girls scratch event.
* Stephanie Porter of Bowl America Glen Burnie had a six-game handicapped total of 1,372 to win that division.
Parkinson lives in Annapolis with her parents, Alexander and Madeline, and carries a 162 average in the Saturday morning youth league at Crofton Centre. The Broadneck senior has a high game of 245 and a high series of 568.
She started bowling duckpins and stayed with it for seven years. Five years ago, she switched to tenpins.
"My mom and dad didn't want me to bowl in the tournament, because I haven't been bowling too great the last few weeks, and it'sa pretty good distance from Annapolis to Elkton," she said. "But I went anyway."
And she beat some of the finest youth bowlers in the state to win the $1,000 scholarship, which she plans to use to attendAnne Arundel Community College before transferring to a Florida college.
Parkinson also was second to Stephanie Porter in the handicapevent.
Porter is a senior at Southwestern, and she's going to useher $1,000 scholarship to study computers. She carries a 145 averageat Bowl America Glen Burnie and has a career high series of 509, with a high single game of 215.
Her mother, Nancy, doesn't bowl, but her father, Robert, carries a 180 average.
"Dad helped me a lot with my game," she said. "It made a big difference in the tournament. Some of the kids weren't happy with the columns in the Elk Lanes center, weren't used to them, but I didn't let them bother me. In fact, I was concentrating so hard that I didn't even notice them."
Don Patterson Presents The Holiday Scratch Tournament will take place Saturday and Sunday at Greenway Bowl Odenton. This is the first of what will become an annual event, bringing together the best tenpin bowlers in the area, as well as national Professional Bowler Association members.
ABC rules will apply, and the first prize is a guaranteed $500.
The entry fee is $40.00. Five dollars from each entry will be donated to the Old Mill High School wrestling team.
For information, call Don Patterson at 536 -0375 or Greenway Bowl Odenton at 551-7100.
Severna Park Youth League
Duckpins scores: In the Pee Wee Division, Katie Kobin had the high girls game with a 68. The high boys game went to Steven Cahn with an 80.
Joey Sachs threw a 76 game, 25 pins over his average. Jonathon Jones had a 63. Erica Trovinger was 15 pins over her average with a 46.
Tiffany Fontz, a Prep, had a 100 game, 25 pins over her average, for high girls game. Michael Davidson took the high boys game with a 111 and had a 321 series for the Prep boys.
In the Bantam Division, John Blume had a 128/302 to lead the division. Steven Schmidt threw a 102, 31 pins over his average.
In the Major Division, Kevin Butschkyhad a 133/382 score.
Brandie Falanga, a Junior, was 23 pins over average for a 114 game.
Junior Satellites tenpins scores:
* Derrick Jackson, 423 set.
* Amy Norfolk, 101 game
* Amy Buser, 136game
* Christy McNew, 109/256
* Marc Porto, 91 game
* Mike Williams, 122 game
* Chris Bowles, 93 game
* Kenny Grabarski, 78/194
* Ryan Admiral, 131/335
* Sharon Thacker, 89 game
* Andy Jones, 117/308